The Culture of Curiosity

Culture of Curiosity

Flickr user young_einstein

I’m off to Toronto to offer the opening keynote and conversation session for the 2014 CAPACOA conference. Their theme this year is “The Culture of Curiosity,” which turned out to be an intriguing topic to explore and explain. I’ll share some of my key points from the keynote in a future post.

In the development of the keynote, I was struck by the fact that ‘curiosity’ is yet another concept we fling about in the arts as an absolute good (like ‘community’ or ‘creativity’ or many other such things). We want more of it in our constituents (at least our potential audiences). We decry the decline of it, and offer ourselves as the remedy for that decline.  And we claim unique and preferential ownership of the domain as artists, arts leaders, and arts enthusiasts.

Yet even a shallow dive into the subject reveals that we haven’t defined the term with the clarity we need to explore it, that we haven’t considered its many sides and outcomes (some of them dangerous and dark), and that the world is finding ways to connect to curiosity in which we play no part.

Curiosity is a powerful force, indeed. But so is a band saw. Best to know how it works, and handle it with care and respect for that power.


  1. Rob Manegold says

    Andrew – I find this topic very interesting as I am affiliated with the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College and our new President (Phil Hanlon – previously Provost at Un Mich.) has created a new initiative at Dartmouth. In recent years the Arts – both Performing and Studio, and the Art Museum have experienced a resurgance and have been rebranded as the Arts District on Campus. President Hanlon’s new initiative has been the creation of a Center for Entrepreneurship and located it in the Arts district. Presently the program is very new, but the intention as we understand it is to borrow from the entrepreneurial qualities of Arts Making and apply it to broader student initiatives.

    So is entrepreneurship a sexy buzz word, or a model of discovery and formulation of action which has been utilized in the arts? Time will tell.