'Necessity is the mother of invention," the saying goes, and for Mom Culture founder Lenore Moritz, it was her personal need for a regular "culture fix" that inspired her to create opportunities for other moms to stay connected to the arts and culture scene.
"After the birth of my first son, I still wanted to keep attending the events I had been used to going to, but I had a newborn and that didn't work very well," said Moritz, who lives in Minneapolis.
She would often take Harper, now 4, to baby gym and baby yoga classes, which she enjoyed but recognized as being all for the baby.
With a background in public relations, Moritz knew there must be a way to fill the culture void she was experiencing while helping other parents do the same. In 2007, she began approaching local arts organizations, such as the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Walker Art Center and the Minnesota Opera, to see if they would be willing to help her create events geared for moms and their kids, ages newborn to 5.
The response from the organizations was positive and soon Mom Culture Live, a series of Friday morning performances, was born. Scheduled at different venues around the Twin Cities, the 45-minute events, typically held five to eight times a year, draw moms, dads and grandparents.
"Even though the performances are geared to parents, it has been really cool to see how the kids respond," said Moritz. "As soon as the voices or the music start, the space gets really quiet. The kids are just captivated."
A website is born
Although Moritz's culture fix was being met, she wanted to remove the geographical boundaries for moms unable to attend performances and also delve more deeply into the arts world. That led to the creation of her Mom Culture website.
"The purpose of the site is to really help moms and others feel like insiders about the arts and culture scene," she explained. "People want to be in the know. They want to learn about creative people and what inspires them."
Moritz, who lived in New York City for several years, taps into a variety of resources -- online art journals, the New York Times and other publications -- to find interesting artists, musicians, filmmakers and writers to interview for her site.
Because Moritz loves pop culture "as much as I love my high culture," she has interviewed a diverse selection of artists, from photographer Alec Soth, local hip-hop artist Dessa and actor/director Ed Burns to "Top Chef" finalist Brian Malarkey and Candy Spelling, mother of Tori and author of "Stories From Candyland."
In addition to maintaining her own website, Moritz is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, writing about families and the arts, and to MomLogic, a national website that tracks nearly 750,000 hits a month.
Now as a mother of two young boys (Hudson turns 3 years old this month), Moritz said she finds herself putting full-time effort into part-time hours to maintain Mom Culture, but her enthusiasm for creating other mom "insiders" never wanes.
"I believe the arts can be so grounding, so fulfilling and so uplifting," she said. "My mission is to bring this service to people, so they, too, can feel connected to the arts even when life is really busy."
One of Moritz's favorite places to visit with her sons is the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "One of the things I like to do is give them a task. I'll tell them to find horses or flowers in a painting," she said. "It just gives me a little extra time to spend on the art while they are looking."
Julie Pfitzinger is a West St. Paul freelance writer.
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