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June 15, 2007

Should we all care? No... But...

by Steven J. Tepper

I like Lynne's framing of the question - "who cares if audiences are engaged?" And, I agree with her that many more organizations need to see themselves as part of a larger cultural operation in which the quality of the audience experience is as important as the quality of the art. Nonetheless, I think there will be some organizations and some arts leaders who will read the book and will opt out of the "engagement" mandate. And, that will be o.k.... for some. There is probably a place for certain organizations to focus only on artistic innovation, with little regard for audiences. These organizations might be doing critical R&D which has little day-to-day relevance. Good for them. In the end, some will be serving a public interest if their innovations take hold and animate a new generation of audiences and artists. But, we likely do not need 30,000 such organizations in the country, most of whom make some claim on public money. If you have access to enlightened patrons, then ignoring "engagement" is a reasonable strategy. But, for the vast majority of organizations, this is not possible and "engaging" audiences will be the only way forward. And, engaging, as Conner suggests, is not about marketing or simply getting people to attend an event. It is about co-authoring meaning.

Posted by stepper at June 15, 2007 6:02 AM


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