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Sustainable Entertainment Part 1: UICA

Underwriting support from:

/Scott Warren

Of the many reasons that my wife Jewly and I finally made the move to Grand Rapids, one major factor  was the multitude of options for entertainment. The rewards of the vast quantity of choices for a night out on the town, and the convenience of living near where all of these exciting things are happening quickly became apparent. All of the fun things we found ourselves doing on a regular basis made all the hassle of moving into a new place more than worth the effort. Then reality hit. We both lost our jobs within in a few weeks of each other. 

Even though money is tight for us right now as we struggle to find new jobs and pursue our options (like in my No Worker Left Behind article) for the future, we are still managing to find ways to entertain ourselves without breaking the bank. We’ve even made a game out of it all. With a little searching on the internet for financially sustainable entertainment (a.k.a. cheap or free stuff to do) we plan our adventures out on the town seeking the next story we can post on The Rapidian. We’ve also made trips to capture material for Jewly’s upcoming local foods cookbook, or for our own Web site. 

One of our favorite destinations for sustainable local entertainment is the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (41 Sheldon Boulevard SE). As a non-profit organization for the arts, the “UICA provides a forum for inclusive community dialogue, challenges stereotypes, and promotes arts and cultural awareness” according to their website. What this translates to for the average Rapidian is that the UICA is a great place to go to for cutting edge visual and performance art, and even movies. We have made over a dozen trips to the UICA within the last several months, sometimes even coming back to an exhibit multiple times to show off the UICA to visiting family members. My 9-year-old son always asks to go to the UICA whenever he comes for a visit, so I have visited the current exhibit of (S)EDITION: PRINTS AS ACTIVISM four times now. 

While some of the events and classes at the UICA cost a modest amount of money, and the films are a reasonable price ($7 after 5:30 p.m. for non-members is the highest price), we have frequently visited the UICA for free. We usually try to leave a little something in the donations box to show our appreciation whenever we visit. Supporting emerging artists, and giving local artists a venue to share their creativity is important. Having a place to take our kids and show them the value of art is important to us also.  For these reasons, Jewly and I have chosen to highlight the UICA in the first of our series of stories on Sustainable Entertainment.

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