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from "Partying for Charity," by Allison Schrager, More Intelligent Life, 12 November 2008 :: via Ideas blog

Nonetheless, a few months ago I became a ”Young Fellow” at the Frick museum ($500 per year; “all but $340 is tax deductible”). I’ll admit I felt slightly ambivalent about it. As much as I enjoy going to museums and sincerely believe they help to make the world a better place, giving to them is not quite on a par with giving to a cancer hospital. Cultural institutions are a luxury in our society. Surely there are more pressing concerns.

My agenda was to join an organisation that promotes community. In my research, I found that cultural institutions have a monopoly on providing frequent, affordable events that also, frankly, seem fun. My hard-earned, limited income could instead go toward feeding starving children in Africa, which is surely a worthier cause than maintaining the art collection of an old mansion on Fifth Avenue. But starving children do not provide fun parties. Point: museum.