It’s that most wonderful time of year. The season of giving. The time of year when we think of those we love and show our concern through some special holiday gift or holiday cheer.

This year, if you’re not sure what kind of gift is right for someone special in your life, ArtsPartners has a wonderful gift idea: Give the gift of the arts.

With the cooperation of dozens of arts organizations in our area, ArtsPartners offers ArtsChecks gift certificates. These gift certificates come in handy when you know someone enjoys theater or the arts, but you’re not quite sure which performance they’d most like tickets to. In this case, ArtsChecks let the recipients do all the deciding because they can choose whatever performances they’d like to attend.

ArtsChecks can be purchased in any amount, used over the course of a year, and can be redeemed at a variety of arts events-the theatre, opera, ballet, or symphony. Yet the certificates aren’t just good at professional arts events. They can also be used at the Peoria Art Guild Gift Shop or at the Contemporary Art Center’s Five Spot blues or jazz performances. Maybe your best friend has wanted to take a dance class for years? She can use ArtsChecks to purchase classes at The Peoria Park District. If you’ve wanted to treat your significant other to an award-winning foreign film but don’t know which one to pick from the roster of films presented by the Peoria International Film Group, you can purchase ArtsChecks and let your partner decide.

ArtsChecks can be a perfect gift, and at the same time, help the arts grow. Buy ArtsChecks for someone who might not normally attend, and it may encourage that person to try something new. Building audiences is one way to ensure the continued excellence of artistic offerings in the Peoria area.

Helping the arts grow helps grow the entire region. As reported in ArtsPartners’ "Report on Arts Spending in the Peoria Area and its Economic Impact," the $35 million spent in arts-related activities contributes to the Peoria area’s economic prosperity. A healthy arts community will help Peoria attract the best and brightest in the future.

By giving tickets to the symphony, opera, ballet, or Peoria Players, to name just a few-by giving ArtsChecks-or by attending more events yourself, supporting the arts is one of the best gifts you can give-to yourself, your friends, and your community. AA!