Help me out here!

My son is 27.  He has a great job as a web developer, he owns his house, he has a music degree, and he appreciates art of all kinds.  I think he fits smack dab into the middle of that coveted “younger audience” that today’s arts groups are always talking about.  But like many of his generation, he has frustrations with many arts experiences.

The other night he expressed one of these frustrations to me, and honestly, it was a concept I’ve never really thought about before.  It has to do with passive vs. active arts participation, and he (like many these days) falls into the latter camp.  He’d much rather have an experience where he can do something besides sit quietly, listen to music and clap afterward.  But, according to him, nobody has really thought about how to turn passive into active beyond getting the audience interacting with the artists.  “If I come to a concert, I’m interested in the musicians, but so is the person across the aisle from me,” he said.  “What’s her story?  Why is she here?  Do we have other things in common?”

Intriguing.  How can we get the audience interacting with each other?  A pre-concert reception doesn’t really allow people who don’t know each other to meet each other and share their interest in what’s happening on stage.

What would?

I admit it, I’m stumped.  I really would like your thoughts.

Before I go, though, I really need to share a new toy with you.  This has nothing to do with the subject matter, but I really am liking my new iPad (which I’ve had for about 48 hours) and the Autodesk Sketchbook Pro app (which I’ve had for slightly less than that).  It’s my first attempt at digital art.  Enjoy!

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About Ellen Rosewall

I am Professor and Chair of Arts Management and author of Arts Management: Uniting Arts and Audiences in the 21st Century (Oxford University Press, 2013). I believe that arts and culture are undergoing a profound change in the 21st century, and I love talking with people about how we continue to bring arts to our communities and individuals give the brave new world of social media, technology and economic changes. Join the conversation!
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10 Responses to Help me out here!

  1. Sherri says:

    Don’t have an actual answer, but have thought about this. This idea occurred to me too when I realized how much more I get out of football (or other sport I know relatively little about and, frankly, don’t care very much for) when I watch something about the players and coaches and get to know more about them as people. I’m simply not “engaged” otherwise. At first I thought it might be that I just didn’t really “get” sports (the point of watching them passively, at least), or maybe it was a stereotypical gender thing (as a woman, perhaps I related more to the people – the “soft” side – or preferred the concrete to the abstract)… but maybe it’s something much more simple: the desire to CONNECT.

  2. Sherri, I think you’ve got something here. Many of us in the arts are constantly moaning about why people are more “into” sports than the arts, and it may have less to do with the sport and more to do with the experience. What we really need is Symphony Bars!!

  3. Sherri says:

    Full contact chamber choirs, methinks.

  4. Mark Zirbel says:

    Seems every Gen-Y person I know is glued to their wireless device. Using the concert example, give each “passive” participant a randomly generated list of audience members’ phone numbers. Conceivably, that concert-goers could communicate via texting or social networking sites, thereby allowing them to immediately share their impressions of the performance. Of course, all phones would need to be silenced…unless you’re aiming for a spontaneous ring tone symphony (hmm, interesting idea!).

  5. Jean Wentz says:

    There could be a group on Facebook for each specific event (i.e. 7 p.m. Wars if 1812 Concert at Carnegie Hall). When you buy your ticket, you can join the group — or automatically be signed up — and can choose to interact beforehand with others who will be there. The page might have polls with specific questions or random silly questions, so the attendees can get to know each other beforehand. Venues might consider seating sections specifically for people who have all answered a question in a certain way, and therefore you will be guaranteed to be seated with a group of people who have a specific thing in common with you.

    LOVE your digital art!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think this should be the official blog logo now. 🙂

  6. squid says:

    It seems like getting people into situations that they are likely to even start speaking to each other would be the first step–like Gallery Night, but Gallery Night has the draw-back of happening so infrequently and being kinda art-touristy. I keep thinking about the writing group that I used to be a member of before I moved to the Green Bay-area; we would get together a couple of times a month and talk about writing, exchange stories, and support each other. It’s not precisely what you’re talking about here, but it seems like we need to get ourselves-as-artists out of this removed, individuated-to-the-point-of-isolation mindset so that we can connect with audiences and help them to become something more than audiences.

    I don’t see why an “artists group” should be just artists. Why not have something like these groups where anyone who is interested in art could come to play?

    • Welcome to Artini! I like your thoughts, especially your comment that “I don’t see why an artists group should be just artists.” I’m going to think about this for a while…

  7. Pingback: art and art-lovers unite! « quixotism and curiousity

  8. Pingback: art and art-lovers unite! « quixotism and curiousity

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