In Your Right Mind

In case you missed seeing it on Artsjournal today because it was a holiday for you, an article appeared from Wired suggesting that the future prosperity of the US lay in right brain activities.

The author foresees that as more left brain logic based jobs either get off shored or relegated to increasingly sophicated software, a demand for people with intuitive and empathic skills will emerge.

There was an interesting section that might mean good things for the arts organizations able to fulfill an apparently emerging need people are beginning to feel-

For companies and entrepreneurs, it’s no longer enough to create a product, a service, or an experience that’s reasonably priced and adequately functional. In an age of abundance, consumers demand something more. Check out your bathroom. If you’re like a few million Americans, you’ve got a Michael Graves toilet brush or a Karim Rashid trash can that you bought at Target. Try explaining a designer garbage pail to the left side of your brain! Or consider illumination. Electric lighting was rare a century ago, but now it’s commonplace. Yet in the US, candles are a $2 billion a year business – for reasons that stretch beyond the logical need for luminosity to a prosperous country’s more inchoate desire for pleasure and transcendence.

Liberated by this prosperity but not fulfilled by it, more people are searching for meaning. From the mainstream embrace of such once-exotic practices as yoga and meditation to the rise of spirituality in the workplace to the influence of evangelism in pop culture and politics, the quest for meaning and purpose has become an integral part of everyday life.

This may present an interesting turn of events. I have been reading articles of late that talk about people skipping college or going into technical training to gain specific skills. While it is certainly true that colleges could do a better job at endowing their graduate with practical skills, if this Wired artice is correct, it may be time to shift one’s concentration back to liberal and fine arts degrees to gain marketable skills.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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