What The Future Brings

I have been pondering the implications of my post yesterday on the status of arts organizations.

It seems clear that larger arts facilities may find themselves either owned by large media conglomerates or closely associated with artistic offerings over which these large corporations exercise influence. Large facilities may end up affliated with companies like Clear Channel and Comcast just as television stations are with networks and be guaranteed the exclusive right to present specific tours/exhibits in the region.

Smaller arts groups may lose access to these artists altogether, but gain other advantages by exhibiting flexibility. The limited niche appeal of the Professional Amateurs mentioned in yesterday’s entry may be a boon for smaller organizations and provide opportunities that hadn’t be available in the past. Museums for example, may not have large performance spaces but can certainly host a steady stream of mildly famous people each weekend while attracting attention to their collection. Perhaps a noted online director will screen his film to 100 interested people in the community this weekend and then a singer-songer writer next weekend.

Granted, some museums already do these things. But as the definition of concepts like the process by which one becomes an authority on a subject becomes blurred, so too perhaps will the idea that museums offer one type of recreational activity and film houses and theatres another.

Other than investing in technology appropriate for presenting art whose genesis is virtual, probably the most important element for success will be to include opportunities and floorplans that are conducive to socialization. If I want the experience of staring straight on at a performance framed by the square of a proscenium, I could watch the film or concert on my computer.

The impulse of organizations to add opportunities for socialization to attract younger groups is probably a good one. These initiatives might not currently be jibing easily with the performances with which they are associated. I have a feeling the socialization opportunities are here to stay and the format of the performances are what will begin to change.

Until technology is able to virtually replicate biological responses to environmental stimuli, exploiting the advantages of being physically present will increase in importance as the motivating factor for event attendance. Since the advent of broadcast media and film this has been true. It is just that the increased ability to direct one’s experience has started shifting the definition of what these advantages are. Right now I think we are in a transitional period where the validity of the current motivating elements is waning but the emerging elements haven’t become defined enough to identify.

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 (artshacker.com) 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. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

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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