Phoenix, AZ. Opening Cultural Doors for Its Citizens
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Phoenix, AZ. Opening Cultural Doors for Its Citizens

With the start of its "Culture Pass" program, Arizona has used its library system to not only educate many of their low income families, but to open doors to different cultures, arts, and ideas. With an ever expanding number of cultural sites available to its pass members, it moves into its third year as one of the most successful co-ops ever concocted.

Despite what you may hear in the national media, Phoenix, AZ is a beautiful, and culturally diverse land, filled to the point of overflow with history, nature, and awe inspiring entertainment. 

While the average American may be inclined to think that Phoenix is simply the remnant of the cliche' cow towns that once dotted the American Southwest, that thinking would be proportionately wrong. While its true that remnants of those old cow towns still exist, and no doubt impact heavily on the native culture of Phoenix; what is most often overlooked is the rich history of the area, and the public outcry that has made many of these historical sites more readily available to their citizens.

How many people, even in the larger, wealthier metropolises can say honestly that every child, no matter what their situation or income level, has been to the city zoo? Phoenix proudly reserves the right to make such boasts, thanks to sweeping actions at the local government level. Using the Phoenix Public Library System, the local government has made all of the city's biggest attractions available to every citizen. 

This revolutionary idea is called the "Culture Pass." All that is needed, is a library card, which is available to any citizen of Maricopa County. The way it works is simple; at each of the county's librarie's there is a shelp lined with yellow cards. Each of the cards is tied symbolically to one of the cities attractions. The patron simply chooses the card with the attraction they would like to visit, returns the ticket to the checkout counter, and the librarian prints off a ticket to the chosen attraction at no cost. Each cardholder is entitled to two attractions monthly, and each pass is good for seven days once printed.

One may be inclined to think that this would only apply to the least popular of attractions in the area, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Want to see the orangutans at the world famous Phoenix Zoo? You're covered. How about viewing some of the America's oldest, and most precious Native American art at the world renowned Herd Museum? Your covered. Want to walk a tight rope at the Children's Museum? Yes, you're covered. 

The idea is part of Arizona's commitment to the expansion of both its cultural horizons, as well as its continued educational comittment to their youth. It is a little over three years old now, and is a success by all accounts.

It is estimated that last year alone, 75,000 low income children visited many of the areas favorite attractions thanks to this program. It has been so successful as a matter of fact, that many cities across the United States are considering an implimentaton of their own based on the Culture Pass model. 

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