Info You Can Use: Expertise As Entertainment

So much to do and so little time to do it! I am a little short on time for my post today but I wanted to direct attention to Eric Ziegenhagen’s TEDxMichiganAve talk, Expertise as Entertainment.

There have only been 74 views so I know you all haven’t seen it yet!

What Ziegenhagen talks about is the increasing prevalence of expertise being valued as an attraction. He focuses a lot on restaurants. It is no longer dinner and a show, dinner is the show. With the increased appreciation of culinary skills of chefs thanks to myriad television shows, people are valuing exposure to that skill as an attraction.

Restaurants in turn are designing the dining experience in response to this interest by providing information about the different components of the meal and providing more opportunities to watch the preparation process.

Ziegenhagen speaks of one restaurant that sells tickets to their seatings essentially intending them to be scalped. They apparently researched the laws governing resale of tickets and designed their reservation process in a way that permitted them to be transferred.

Ziegenhagen references the burgeoning TED lecture franchise as a evidence that people are beginning to value what is basically the pre-show lecture/post show talk back as much, if not more, than the actual show itself.

Looking at them in that context and taking a look at what makes the TED talks so engaging and interesting may provide some insight into how to make pre and post show talks more valuable to your audiences. (Clue: It might mean bringing in someone with no association to your organization at all.)

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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