Leaders Call For Disarmament Of Weapons Grade Elitism

I think there is probably enough overlap between my readers and Drew McManus on Adaptistration that I am not bringing anything new to the table when I point to his most recent post.

But man! It is so much in my wheelhouse that I wish I had written it. And with a title employing the phrase, “Weapons Grade Elitism,” it is hard leave it alone.  It pushes all the right buttons.

Drew had an encounter with program notes for a concert that were so dense, even as an orchestra insider with decades of experience wasn’t quite sure what the author of the notes was referencing. I think some of the content was worse than anything Trevor O’Donnell has criticized.

Long time readers know that I often cite findings of the 2017 CultureTrack survey and frequently discuss how the language in promotional and informational materials can be alienating to people who are just starting to be curious about different creative disciplines. I was pleased to see Drew invoking both ideas in his final paragraph summarizing his experience with the program notes:

In the end, these program notes do far more harm than we probably realize. When the CultureTrack ’17 report showed the number one barrier to engagement is people feeling like “it isn’t for someone like me,” we should actively revolt against practices that result in program notes like this. If someone with a music degree feels alienated upon reading them, imagine how the rest of our patrons will react.

Weapon’s Grade Elitism In 800 Words Or Less

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/)

I am currently the 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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