Monday, February 18, 2008

Into the blue: The future of live arts

Ben Cameron, program director for the arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, earlier today evangelized about the challenges facing arts organizations, including the collapse of social planning beyond 48 hours and the time/energy drain.

Cameron provided the keynote speech at the 16th annual Performing Arts Managers Conference in Phoenix.

He woke up the early-morning audience with an impassioned delivery that noted today's audiences are looking for personalized and customized experiences, and that we're in an industry that demands attendance on a certain day and a certain time. Unfortunately, you can't timeshift live theater. Yet, anyway.

He also noted that young people increasingly want to be part of the creative process. Anybody with a computer can compose a song or make a poster or edit a movie.

Although official arts education is down in many schools, he sees a bright side:

"We're in a golden age of arts education," he said. "The difference is that it's no longer the 'we will teach, and you will learn' model."

He said arts education takes place every day, peer to peer and in social networks, and that nimble arts organizations will try and figure out how to enlist that creativity as "activators, engagers and harvesters of culture."

Cameron ended by reminding us of the importance of the arts, that the arts connect us, provide a means of understanding ... provide "our family photos" of shared history and culture.

As always with conferences, attendees take away kernels of knowledge or inspiration and then try and plant them at home in their organizations.

It's too early to know what we'll do with Ben's thoughts, but when we do, you folks here at Culture Shock will be the first to know. -- MichaelK

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