You Can Bring a Blogger to the Show, But You Can’t Make ‘Em Write

Back in the beginning of February among the theatre type blogs I listed in an entry was one to the Impact Theatre web page where they were offering free tickets to people who would see a show and blog for them.

As promised, I sent an email off to them yesterday to see how successful it was for them. I got a letter back from their graphics person, Cheshire Dave, who has given me permission to excerpt the email here. Apparently, as much as people seem to want to regale the blogosphere with the inane details of their lives, no one wants to write about theatre–even with a direct appeal.

Quoth Cheshire:

I am depressed to announce that yours is the very first email I’ve gotten from that link in the six months or so that it’s been up. No joke; no exaggeration. By and large, this initiative has been a spectacular failure. Except for one case, no blogger has taken me up on it, even ones I solicited directly (some of them didn’t even get back to me, and I emailed several times). The sole exception has been SFist (, and that’s a site that I write for (I’m not the one doing the reviews). But the point of SFist is to fill a need for a regional blog, so it’s not like an individual’s blog in that regard. So really, my plan has been totally unsuccessful.

It kills me that I can’t find even one blogger who wants free tickets to theater that he or she would probably really enjoy. With bloggers more or less looked down upon by a great portion of the print establishment and not known about by even more people, it seems to me that what bloggers want is legitimacy. But when offered to them on a silver platter, they can’t be bothered. It’s really disappointing.

I did go to and typed “Impact” into the search field to see what sorta stuff was going up. There were some nice articles for their productions with the sort of disclaimers about being involved with Impact Theatre that you would hope people being paid to promote governmental initiatives would make. Its a practice to which all uncredentialed journalist types should aspire. (I try to keep the blog generally apolitical, but sometimes, the opportunity to comment is just there.)

I sent him a couple links to some of my “bloggers as the next reviewers” entries (here, here, and here) in my inquiry email. He noted though that “One thing I didn’t see in your entry about bloggers as reviewers that is a benefit to the arts organization is the opportunity for almost-instant response on the blog.”

I thought I had said that somewhere already, but it certainly bears repeating. As he noted, his theatre gets most of its review driven audiences from the free weekly paper so by the time the review appears, the show is in to its second week. With the daily papers, you are sort of at the whims of the editors. A Sunday or Friday review is great–but god help you if it appears in Monday’s paper as it is the least read of any day.

Since bloggers are typically very quick to report their impressions, finding a good one with a dedicated readership can potentially be worth his/her weight in gold–so a couple free tickets to a show ain’t nothin’ But as I noted a couple days ago, I think blogging still has to have some time to mature as a information media. Once it does, I bet you see individuals with sites like that appear well run and probably have a dedicated group of visitors.

Until then though, I encourage everyone to be like Impact and pioneer the way.

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.

Art from 1s and 0s

If you read reports on why people are no longer attending arts events, inevitably television, video games and computers will be mentioned.

What isn’t mentioned is that there is sort of a conservation of creative energy going on over the internet. Even though people are online more, there is a creative itch that they seem to need to scratch. Take for example the MUD Achaea (FAQ on MUDS here). They are a text based mud meaning no graphics are provided over the screen–all the colors, textures, etc are created within the player’s mind from the description presented.

However, for the past 5-6 years they have held monthly artisianal and bardic contests where players create visual representations of life in this text based game or songs/stories/poems reflecting the same. Considering that they also award runners up and merit awards, that is a fair bit of art being created to give tribute to an imaginary world.

Even more–they have a sophicated mechanism that allows players to create their own plays in game on a stage in one of the towns. It even goes so far as to allow you to set ticket prices, reserve private boxes, build sets and costumes and employ special effects.

This can give some hints as to the direction technology and theatre may be headed together.

Using MUDs for something other than entertainment has long been contemplated as seen in this paper on their use in education written a decade ago.

And the theatre world has been using a form of MUDs called MOOs to hold meeting and forum for almost as long. The Association of Theatre in Higher Education created ATHE MOO to provide opportunities for discussion and debate to those who couldn’t attend their annual conferences.

Watching Me Watching You Watching Me..erm

So I was checking my visitor stats for January. The report only shows the IP addresses of people who visited, but it does give me links to websites through which people clicked through to find me.

Turns out that people have been linking to me via the blogs maintained by a paid arts blogger, I reported on in an earlier post. The blog entries in question come from Worker Bees Blog and 42nd St. Moon.

In the former blog, she talks about the importance of monitoring your statistics and how she can now track my blog and my references to her. I imagine we will now do a humorous little turn at watching each other watch each other.

In the latter entry, she mentions how 42nd St Moon is becoming powerful at leveraging blogs. This is quite true because by visiting that entry, I then clicked through to the other related blogs, one of which is focussed on the benefit of technology to arts organizations.

Given that this whole series of events was predicated on my search for other arts blogs beyond, I am starting to look at my whole effort at blogging as something of a success which is gaining momentum.

Since the December holiday season I have gotten email from people whose nieces have turned them on to my blog and from an administrator at the National Dance Project because someone brought my comments to their attention.

Makes me realize that there are a lot more people intentionally visiting the website than I realized. The web stats report tells you what keywords people used in search engines to find your website. My only comment is to look at the first word in my blog’s name. I will let you infer some of the bizarre search terms people are using from that.