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Friday, May 14, 2004

Weblogs extended

Weblogs like those on ArtsJournal and around the world have disrupted the traditional communications stream for ideas, public discussion, news, and information. At least one arts organization is now engaging that disruptive force for their own creative work.

Seattle's On the Boards, a contemporary performing arts nonprofit, just launched a series of weblogs on their own website (thanks to the good folks at ArtsJournal) that extends the power of public voice to their audience and a few select commentators. After the opening of each show, select bloggers will comment about what they saw, and audience comments will be posted to the system as well. The system now has two shows up for comment, with one blogger entering their opinion just 40 minutes after seeing the opening last night.

It's nothing new, even for arts organizations, to have a discussion list or threaded conversation on a website. But the standard technology for such features lacked energy, and usually died from lack of use. The weblog approach provides a more curated and focused approach to the same idea, by making a few interesting people responsible for posting their ideas, and giving them the tools to do it well.

But what if those comments are negative about the performance or the organization? On the Boards has a great response:

Actually, we expect there will be criticism; we're very critical ourselves. But part of being an organization dedicated to contemporary performance is experimenting. And sometimes experiments don't work out. It's only by trying new things and seeing what works and what doesn't that better art gets made. If we don't make mistakes and miscalculations, then we're not taking enough chances.

Art should move you. Good art should make your blood boil. Great art should grab ahold of your soul and compel you to respond. No reaction is the worst kind of failure for an artist. Unfortunately, for most of us, there are too few opportunities to get embroiled in passionate discussion about art.

Arts organization could never really control the public opinions of their audiences and critics, and they generally lost credibility when they tried ('...the performance...was....good...' says the New York Times). Weblogs such as this are an attempt to turn that perceived weakness into a own the conversations they generate, good and bad, and make them part of the art.

posted on Friday, May 14, 2004 | permalink