It is ironic to me that this topic is the focus of so much current attention since, for decades, the mission statements of most not-for-profit arts organizations include explicit mention of the desire to influence, educate, inspire or entertain specific audiences — in other words, to engage them.
He’s got three simple questions that need answering. I personally like the first one – just exactly who are we trying to engage with? Most of the audience engagement techniques being used are youth oriented – Tweet seats and eating in the theatre are big topics right now,with as many for as against. (It’s interesting to note that there’s a fairly clear divide in age segments in this argument.)
From the Globe article: Canadian conductor Julian Kuerti privately expressed frank dismay at the way North American orchestras were jumping on the social-media bandwagon in attempts to draw new, younger audiences.
“As an artist, I care deeply that there is a lot of meaning, a lot of substance in what we do. That is what is attractive about it,” he said in a recent interview. “Instead, we try to bait and switch, to fool people into coming to a concert because it is supposed to be interactive … If we are not careful, we will wind up with an audience who is not there for the same reasons as the musicians are on the stage.”
This of course brings up and even bigger question about attending an arts event – Why are we there? What are the rules of engagement in attending the arts? Do we need a whole new set? Do the previous rules need to be examined and added to or subtracted from? Or can it be viewed as a challenge to audience members – asking the question, are you capable of unplugging for 90 minutes? Or, to a whole new tech generation, is that even an option? From the G+M comments (abridged)
I can’t think of anything more stifling than paying to sit next to strangers in a dark room, with the all that entails, shoot me now. Life is physically hard enough having to commute to work every day and take public transit. Why would anyone thinks this is a commendable activity…?
Lots to think about today. While I’m thinking I’m gonna go book some rehearsal space at the Creation Lab.