The Audience Connection – Course Description

The Audience Connection
This course is to advocate for the bridging of the gap between the arts and it’s audience for the purposes of sustainability and to make a positive and tangible difference in people’s lives.  It is designed for Arts Administration students and is also offered as an elective for Music students
1. For students to begin to be able to reach out to audiences of all ages with the arts by gaining an understanding in how to make them accessible, fulfilling, visceral, but most importantly, relevant.
2. To understand and implement sucessful advocacy and activism through performance, explanation and or administrative action to all audiences and to help with sustainability issues that continue to plague the Arts world

What the audience feels, as well as the “job” of a musician:
A survey will be given for the specific purpose of attaching spontaneous emotions, colors, shapes, seasons, times of day, objects and reactions to excerpts of music, not limited to Classical music exclusively. The purpose of the survey is to put students in the shoes of the audience, and to connect with them.  The question “What is the job of a musician?” will be debated also.
Advocacy and Activism:
A heavy emphasis will be  on world wide newspaper articles and blogs, (including some that I have collected), with students presenting to the class their thoughts on current issues by debating through.  A schedule of presenters will be given and/or formulated in class
Interaction with my co-authored blog Sticks and Drones including discussion topic requests from readers and debate on my own posts
Relevance of the Arts;

  • An analysis of the Rand Report Gifts of the Muse, on the intrinsic and instrumental benefits of the arts – a written report will be required – Link below
  • An analysis on the Knight Foundation report Search for Shining Eyes outlining the pitfalls of innovation –  a written report will be required – Link below
  • Bono – Yes the U2 guy!  A class dedicated to him relating to relevance

The Audience Experience – Field Trip
Attendance at a Springfield Symphony performance (or another major arts performance) to analyze and observe the audience –  a written report will be required and this will lead into discussions about the concert/theater/gallery etc…experience including the development of venues
Creativity in Administration
A viewing of the film Mystery of Picasso as an example of creativity and decisions under fire – a written report will be required
Students will be asked to bring something to show that moves them in a very personal way, this could be anything created, listened to, watched etc…A schedule will be given for this, the purpose for this will be discussed in class
With arts education at the University level for the most part following the European model, how can we adapt and change musical training to address the problem of small audiences, and do we need to?
What can be done on an elementary school level, including teacher training, to integrate arts into a curriculum that has no specific arts component.  This is in line with making arts relevant.


  • I will show scenes from films such as Immortal Beloved (Beethoven), the Shawshank Redemption, Philadelphia and others.  The purpose will be to illustrate the importance of accessibility, visceral reaction, and the emotional fulfillment that art and music can bring to an audience, and why those are the key elements to successful advocacy.
  • Passages of literature will also be incorporated, and authors will include E. M Forster, Spencer Johnson, George Carlin and Robert Fulghum amongst others.

Performance element (optional but encouraged):
Part 1:
Students who are preparing pieces/artwork/scenes etc… will perform them (or excerpts of them) to the class.  They will be coached to present the work, bringing in elements about themselves (personal feelings using adjectives that are clearly understood by all), and the use of every day items, activities, terms, feelings, events and objects to describe why the piece is relevant to the audience at hand.  The emphasis will be on relevance and accessibility and not on musical analysis, unless it can be used to illustrate relevance and accessibility.  There will be an additional emphasis on effective presentation to children.

Part 2 (optional but encouraged):
Students who are performance majors will be encouraged to go out and seek connections with potential audiences.  This includes, but is not limited to, organizing performances for themselves at schools, hospitals and assisted living facilities.  This fits right in line with the advocacy component of the course also.

For a starting point for blogs and arts articles:
Another more headline news style Arts site –
The Rand report (click on free downlaodable pdf) – Gifts of the Muse  –
The Knight Foundation report – (click on free downlaodable pdf)  – Search for Shining Eyes –
My Blog Sticks and Drones –

On my blog there is an Audience Connection tab on the lower left with links to the articles that are related but also the podcast:
My blog resides in this community which also has arts related authors that post regularly, the blog Adaptistration is particularly important:


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