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March 1, 2006

Sandow on classical music...again

My weblog neighbor, Greg Sandow, has been attempting a bold experiment in publishing -- ''performing'' a book on-line, posting chapters as he writes them for feedback from the world. When he's done, he'll publish it the old-fashioned way.

After some months of wonderful prose and intriguing comments on the future of classical music, Greg has now begun again, starting back at chapter one with a new focus and new approach. He'll be diving into these tiny questions as his writing progresses:

Is the classical music audience getting older? Will it die off, and not be replaced? Can we find a younger audience? And why, exactly, should we be having a classical music crisis? Has our culture degenerated? Is it now too shallow -- too noisy and dumb, too frenetic, too careless -- to support cultivated musical art? Or has classical music just fallen behind the rest of the world, and gotten out of date?

If you missed the first go-around, here's your second chance to witness and participate in a book under construction.

Posted by ataylor at 12:45 AM | Comments (1)

March 2, 2006

John Kani and the spirit of UBUNTU

The International Society for the Performing Arts has posted an audio stream and a transcription from a recent conference keynote by Dr. John Kani, South African actor, director, and playwright. It runs about 40 minutes, but is well worth a listen as you work. The topic is ''UBUNTU,'' an African aphorism with a rich and nuanced meaning: do we explain UBUNTU? ....It does not translate into English. The closest is "Menswaardigheid" which is Afrikaans. It is the value of the human being, it is humaneness, it is kindness, UBUNTU is tolerance, sensitivity, and respect. When you put that together you find UBUNTU as the lifeblood that pumps through your veins and informs the brain to think correctly, to think emotionally correct.

The larger speech is about Kani's experience with Apartheid and the struggles of his country since Apartheid fell. Fabulous stuff that eventually leads to his views on arts administration and management, where he believes the relative power of administrators has become too strong:

...our struggle now has become convincing accountants, CEO's, that the work is important. We have to return to the old days when the artistic director was the captain of the ship. We can only do that without making the CEO's and the CFO's lose their faith and their respectability, by doing of our work and explaining what UBUNTU means to them. To manage your institutions with sensitivity to the people that expect you to lead them. To be a leader that is actually a server leader.

Kani believes that the spirit of UBUNTU is essential and enduring to his country, and to all people. And, of course, he believes the role of the artist (and the organizations that support and enable artists) is to hold fast to that spirit.

...whatever we do in our daily lives, in our families, we must always remember we're dealing with human beings. They are in the image of God. They are in your own image. That which is good for you must also be good for them. Productivity yes. Profitability yes. But social responsibility has to be in the center nerve of the work we do.

Good stuff. Give a listen.

Posted by ataylor at 8:33 AM | Comments (3)

March 6, 2006

Martinis and art, shaken and stirred

If you weren't sure whether large quantities of distilled beverages, big crowds, and invaluable contemporary artworks would make a good mix, a celebration in February pretty much settled the issue. By many reports, the martini-themed rental event at the Milwaukee Art Museum's stunning Calatrava addition was about as bad as you can imagine:

People threw up, passed out, were injured, got into altercations and climbed onto sculptures at Martinifest, a semi-formal event organized by Clear Channel Radio and held at the museum Feb. 11, according to several people who attended or worked at the event.

It seems the crowd was a bit larger than planned, the tickets were cheaper than they should have been, and the controls on drinking were lacking altogether.

Corporate rentals are an increasingly important revenue stream for museums and other cultural facilities, along with weddings, parties, and special events. Not only do they generate discretionary cash, but many argue that they draw new faces into the spaces, who may decide to return. In Milwaukee, the martini event certainly made an impression on at least one new patron:

"We were sardined in," said Collins, a first-time museum visitor. "People, boy, they wanted their martinis."

See how art can bring a community together?

Posted by ataylor at 8:30 AM | Comments (1)

March 7, 2006

To be of use

While searching for something else, I stumbled onto a great (as usual) 2004 keynote by Ben Cameron of Theatre Communications Group (you can find the keynote here), which led me to a wonderful poem by Marge Piercy that Ben invokes in his comments.

A favorite passage:

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who stand in the line and haul in their places,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

Me too, although I'll admit to being a parlor general a bit too often. Read the poem and roll up your sleeves.

Posted by ataylor at 1:25 AM | Comments (0)

March 8, 2006

Attracting the 'young and the restless'

A December 2005 study from CEOs for Cities (available for download here, and discussed in the Washington Post) puts a finer point (or perhaps an exclamation point) on the ''Creative Class'' hysteria of the past few years. Beyond the hazy competition among cities in luring creative workers, this study suggests the real competition should be for citizens of a certain age: the 25-35 year old. Why? They're more mobile. They're more connected. They're more likely to live near downtown. And they're a scarce commodity as the total American labor pool takes a sudden and enduring drop.

The three decisive trends that drove the growth of the U.S. labor force -- the maturing of the baby boom generation, the greatly increased economic role of women and the increase in college attainment -- all reverse or flatten out in the next two decades. The baby boom generation, now in its peak earning years, will soon begin retiring, depriving the economy of some of its most seasoned workers. Women's labor force participation, which has doubled since the 1950s and been a key part of growing the U.S. economy, cannot go much higher. And finally, the expansion of college education in the last two generations, which has raised college attainment rates from less than 10 percent of the population to more than 30 percent of young adults, has stopped growing. The combination of baby boom retirements, no net additions of women to the labor force and a constant college attainment rate mean that labor is likely to be in short supply over the next two decades.

Now, the connection arts leaders make between this problem and their own work is a complex one. But the report's recommendations expose a few places that the professional nonprofit arts might play an important role:

  1. Make people the focus of economic development
  2. Become a city where women and ethnically diverse young people can achieve their goals
  3. Openness and engagement are key to rooting talent in place
  4. Investing in higher education is important, but it won’t solve the problem
  5. Vibrant urban neighborhoods are an economic asset
  6. The economic importance of being different

A conclusion within that final item is also useful, suggesting that ''local voice'' and ''local character'' might be an essential criteria even among the nationally significant cultural institutions.

We live in a nation (and a world, thanks to globalization) where culture has become increasingly homogenized, where one suburban community, strip mall, freeway exit looks exactly like every other. But a reaction is brewing, emerging from the ground up. Many people want choices and a sense of place that moves past the bland of the national brand.

Posted by ataylor at 9:26 AM | Comments (3)

March 9, 2006

Do we ''age into'' arts attendance?

In a comment to my post yesterday about demographic shifts in the labor market, a weblog reader asked the essential question:

Won't the aging Boomers come into the demographic that attends cultural events? Older, empty nesters with education and assets? Or are they too glued to their TV's?

It's a common question and a core issue for the future of the professional arts infrastructure, described more specifically in this 1997 report summary from the National Endowment for the Arts:

One expectation is that [baby boomers] will ''age into'' arts participation as they embrace midlife obligations and perspectives. The alternative prediction is that the lower level of arts participation is a consequence of their early liberal experience and will persist over the coming decades, while post-boomer cohorts, raised in a more conservative atmosphere, will enjoy levels of arts participation comparable to pre-boomers.

Why does it matter? If age is really a primary predictor of arts attendance, we're all in the gravy as the big population bubble moves into the ''arts attending'' years. If factors other than age are the primary predictors of attendance (life experience, arts exposure as a child), we're in trouble, because we'll be drawing a decreasing percentage of the larger pool.

So what do we know about the answer? Not much until we can measure it in ''real time.'' The NEA study offered a gloomy perspective on what we might expect:

  • Among post-boomers, it was only for jazz that a few respondents account for the cohorts' attendance. For all the rest of the art forms, a larger number of Generation X attendees attended fewer times on average. This means a large number of people were sampling widely.
  • For baby boomers generally, a large number of attendees attend infrequently and this trend grew more pronounced from 1982 to 1997. That means that these boomers, like the post-boomers noted above, tend to sample widely without showing a strong commitment to any arts form.
  • In marked contrast, the attendance figures for pre-boomers are accounted for largely by the frequent attendance of a relatively few people in these cohorts.

Unfortunately, only time will tell how worried we should be. But we might as well start worrying now.

Posted by ataylor at 9:12 AM | Comments (10)

March 13, 2006

Knowing your audience, knowing your stuff

An interesting overview of Trader Joe's in the New York Times (also summarized here) sheds some light on this quirky but successful grocery chain:

There is nothing quite like the chain anywhere else on the American food landscape. ''Trader Joe's is radically different in many ways from other food retailers,'' said Stephen Dowdell, editor in chief of Progressive Grocer magazine. ''The stores are small, they don't rely on national brands, you can't do price comparisons and they definitely don't offer one-stop shopping. But every product has a story.''

Part of the strategy to stay on-target and off-kilter is a panel of ''category experts,'' who comb the world for interesting cuisine, and then work like crazy to adapt and translate those ideas into products that will enthrall their shoppers.

The company also has a sharp focus on who it's serving, particularly the ''well-educated, well-traveled and underpaid,'' according to its founder. One result is an emphasis on ''speed scratch'' items -- prepared foods and precut vegetables that let busy people still play an important part in making their meal. Says the current president:

''Trader Joe's customers are people who really care about cooking,'' he said, ''but like everyone else in America, they don't feel like they have time to chop all the vegetables, cook the chicken and make the dessert -- but they want to be in the kitchen.'' The stores stock lots of things like precut butternut squash and beets, "simmer sauces" that make quick stews, and marinated salmon fillets packaged with fresh herbs in oven-ready cooking bags. ''We are very careful about marinades,'' [V.P. for Merchandising Matt] Sloan said solemnly. ''Dill can be very polarizing.''

But the most striking quote comes at the end of the article, where a customer recognizes all the hard work and focused effort that goes into Trader Joe's product choices:

''This sounds crazy, but you feel like the company likes food even more than they like money,'' said Marcy Benfiglio, who lives near the branch in Larchmont, N.Y. ''You don't feel that at the supermarket.''

Category experts, laser focus on the lives of customers, quirky but creative choices that stretch what consumers think they want...sounds like a model for another type of enterprise. Hmmm.

Posted by ataylor at 8:02 AM | Comments (1)

March 15, 2006

The next generation

I'm off blogging in another part of the ether this week (although I will still be posting here, as well), with another iteration of the ''Hessenius Group,'' a hosted conversation curated by arts policy wonk Barry Hessenius. This week, the topic is young professionals in nonprofit and public cultural institutions, and the questions in play are these:

How are the arts doing in terms of recruiting, training, mentoring, and involving younger people in their organizational structures? Are we developing the next generation of arts leaders? What grade would you give us in terms of our engaging those future leaders? Equipping them with the tools they will need? Including them the in the decision making processes and seating them at the tables at which we sit? Are we listening to them?

It's a great group to attack this particularly important issue, including many young professionals who are providing their own personal perspectives. Should be fun. Take a look.

Posted by ataylor at 8:37 AM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2006

What does a ''great organization'' look like?

Jim Collins' book, Good to Great, has been making the rounds in corporate America and in the social sector...defining the factors that differentiate competant organizations and leaders from exceptional ones. It's about focus, discipline, people, and the long view, as you might expect.

Good to Great and the Social SectorsOf particular relevance to nonprofit managers, however, is the available monograph addendum to the book, focusing on the social sector (excerpts are available here, and TCG's Ben Cameron muses on some of the ideas here). It's a compelling read (and a quick one, at 35 pages long). Collins captures many of the core challenges of the sector and its structure, and offers specific steps for any leader or organization to move forward despite those challenges.

Within the text, he describes what ''greatness'' looks like for a social sector organization. And he uses language that I love. In his view, a great organization:

Delivers Superior Performance
In business, performance is defined by financial returns and achievement of corporate purpose. In the social sectors, performance is defined by results and efficiency in delivering on the social mission.

Makes a Distinctive Impact
The organization makes such a unique contribution to the communities it touches and does its work with such unadulterated excellence that if it were to disappear, it would leave a hole that could not be easily filled by any other institution on the planet.

Achieves Lasting Endurance
The organization can deliver exceptional results over a long period of time, beyond any single leader, great idea, market cycle, or well-funded program. When hit with setbacks, it bounces back even stronger than before.

Aspirational, I'll admit...even a bit sappy. But compared to the dry and distant language in most mission statements, it's downright poetic.

NOTE: You don't need to read Good to Great to benefit from the monograph. But you'll likely want to refer to the larger book for depth and detail on the key principals. So, spend the $8 on the monograph and then decide whether or not to buy the book.

Posted by ataylor at 8:41 AM | Comments (3)

March 20, 2006

Economic impact: strike two

More trouble is bubbling for those who hope to make economic arguments for major public/private capital projects -- for sports specifically, but also by proxy for the arts. This article in the Boston Globe suggests that the equation linking major facilities to major economic return is losing believers, if not losing steam:

This new skepticism of public sports team funding is thanks in part to a small community of economists who have taken up and methodically rejected many of the claims made about the economic benefits of major league sports teams: that they create jobs or bring money to local businesses or otherwise spur economic growth. ''Generally speaking,'' says Andrew Zimbalist, a professor at Smith College and a leading sports economist, ''the independent research suggests that we can't anticipate any economic impact'' from sports teams and stadiums.

Thankfully for the sports franchises, many cities are immune to the consistent perspectives of economists on the issue. (According to economist Allen Sanderson, ''Cities would be better off...if the mayor were to go up in a helicopter and dump out $100,000.'') Whether it's for sense of pride, sense of place, love of the sport, or the bidding frenzy associated with a strategically scarce resource (professional sports franchises), they continue to invest significant amounts of taxpayer cash.

While the Globe article focuses exclusively on sports facilities, you could easily replace the phrase ''major league sports facilities'' with ''world-class cultural facilities'' to see where the debate is going. Even though most city officials have yet to catch on, we'd best be polishing up a different set of arguments (and start thinking differently ourselves) for the battles yet ahead.

Posted by ataylor at 9:25 AM | Comments (4)

March 21, 2006

Feeling the squeeze

Grant Thornton just released its 12th annual ''Survey of U.S. Business Leaders,'' which seeks to capture the tone and strategy of for-profit business decision-makers and their sense of the current business climate. A few of their major trend discoveries should sound strangely familiar to nonprofit cultural managers, and the corresponding strategies seem handy, as well (these come from the printed publication, not the web site):

  • CEOs are feeling the squeeze
    CEOs today are under a tremendous amount of pressure from all sides. Operational costs continue to mount as fuel, raw material and health care costs escalate, and ever-demanding customers refuse to allow companies to pass these costs along....CEOs can no longer afford to focus on just one side of the equation at a time. They must manage costs and customers simultaneously and at a more rapid pace than ever....
  • Cost reduction is a team sport
    CEOs are enlisting employees in the fight against operational costs. Not only are these business leaders challenging employees at all levels of the organization to search for cost-cutting opportunities, they are also working with their partners to trim the fat at each step in the supply chain....There are no more sacred cows, no more uncontrollable costs.
  • Ensuring the value proposition is still valuable
    Gone are the days when a company's value proposition could be etched in stone and mounted on a wall....U.S. business leaders understand this and have put processes in place to facilitate change. They are reviewing their value proposition on a continual basis, refining it or completely redefining it as required....They are staying in close contact with customers to understand and anticipate their needs. And, they are organizing the right mix of skills to execute changes quickly and effectively.
  • Creating tighter bonds with customers
    Competition is intensifying. The market is becoming more crowded with competition from international companies to larger companies playing in smaller markets to companies diversifying into new markets. Customers are, therefore, not as loyal as they once were, making it increasingly important to strengthen relationships with key customers.
  • You are only as good as your employees
    A mediocre strategy executed well is better than a great strategy executed poorly....To leverage the power of their human capital, business leaders are more aggressively educating employees about the company's value proposition and their role in delivering it, as well as empowering employees to take the actions necessary to deliver on this proposition.
  • What gets measured gets managed
    The abundance of data available to businesses today can be overwhelming. This data can be powerful, but only if companies are able to harness it. The majority of survey respondents have distilled the mounds of data available to the few critical measures needed to manage day-to-day operations with more precision.

You can request a free copy of the survey report on-line, if you don't mind getting on the marketing list for Grant Thornton (mention your budget size, and they won't bother you).

Posted by ataylor at 8:45 AM | Comments (1)

March 22, 2006

And you thought you had a youth marketing problem

A recent consumer product survey asked me what I thought of the product concept shown here, with the following marketing text:

Natural spring water in the Aquapod bottle is the cool new kid on the block -- Aquapod makes drinking water fun. Its unique bottle style is intriguing enough to get kids excited to drink water, a healthy choice over artificial and sugary drinks. Aquapod comes in a convenient 11oz size, so kids can sip, slurp and gulp up the same great taste of natural spring water wherever they are.

Good to know that flashy packaging and trendy text engages the younger crowd...not the actual content. Clearly, it's time for ShakespearePod, or SchönbergPod, or ChagallPod, or some other ingenuous (no, I don't mean ingenious) sleight-of-hand ''intriguing enough to get kids excited'' to observe art. Or not.

Posted by ataylor at 12:13 AM | Comments (12)

March 24, 2006

Measuring progress in ''smiles per hour''

Let's assume you wanted to foster a sustainable and vibrant community over time, and you wanted to be publicly accountable to that goal along the way. What would you do? The city of Port Phillip, Victoria, Australia, came up with 13 indicators of what they believed to be a sustainable community, and then dared to publish their progress for all to see. The Sustainable Community Progress Indicators (SCPI) project is an attempt to focus the efforts of a city and its citizens toward making real progress. Says the mayor:

If we were to think about whether our lives are better or worse now than they were 10 years ago, many of us may consider the state of our health, what our bank balance is compared to what it was like, whether our children are happier than they used to be, or the number of good friends we have.

The SCPI project seeks to make similar assessments about the sustainability of our community. We know that the quality of our community's life does not merely rest upon its economic condition. While we recognise that economic factors are important, it is clear that our well-being is also heavily dependent on the environmental, social and cultural conditions that support us.

Smiles per HourSo, what do these measurements look like? Take a peek! Each of the 13 indicators is described and detailed, and each gets a happy face, neutral face, or sad face depending on the community's progress.

Of course, to measure things like ''connectedness'' or ''diversity,'' you need to get creative. My favorite such effort is ''smiles per hour,'' where certain streets, intersections, and public areas are ranked for their cordiality between strangers. How, exactly? Here's how:

A 'Smile Spy' volunteer walks on a defined section of the street (averaging 400m) for a 15-minute period keeping their faces up and their expression open. In that time everyone who passes them on their side of the street is counted. People who smile, nod, or make any kind of positive greeting are counted separately. These two numbers are converted into a percentage, and this becomes the Smiles Per Hour rating for that section of street. Therefore the highest rating a street can get is 100 and the lowest is 0.

Imagine if arts organizations tried to express with clarity the outcomes they hoped for, and then measured those outcomes over time...even in small, simple, and slightly whimsical ways like this. How much better could we become at our jobs? And how much clearer would our constituents be about what we hoped to accomplish?

Posted by ataylor at 12:39 AM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2006

Access vs. excellence

A passionate essay in the UK Times rails against the emerging emphasis on access and public palatability among museums, claiming that it distracts and destroys the true purpose of the institutions. According to novelist/journalist James Delingpole, that true purpose is this:

They exist today, just as they did 250 years ago, for the preservation, collection, display and study of precious objects. If in the process they also manage to create some kind of beneficial social change be it bolstering its visitors' education, self esteem or sense of community, then all to the good, but these are no more than side effects, not a museum's raison d'etre.

He suggests that bending that purpose toward popular appeal distorts the organization rather than improving it.

The flaws in this access-for-all argument, are nicely exposed by Josie Appleton in her paper for the Institute Of Ideas - ''Museums For The People?'' By endlessly trying to second-guess the needs of their audiences, she argues, museums are failing in their primary function of preserving, displaying, studying and where possible collecting the treasures of civilisation and nature.

Resources that might have gone into the maintenance of collections are instead being diverted to fashionable ''access'' projects; curators are now so busy interacting with the public that they barely have time left for study; and the harder they try to make themselves more user-friendly and socially relevant, the less they fulfil their purpose as wholly distinctive institutions which provide a refuge from the mundane cares and concerns of ordinary life.

Along the way, Delingpole challenges the trend of hanging artwork lower to accommodate children and the disabled (''thus are politically correct considerations given a higher priority than scholarly or aesthetic ones''), as well as the effort to increase the diversity of staff and leadership (''Does anyone really think when they enter a museum: 'Goodness me. All the curators and staff here look hideously white'?'').

Which leads me to this eloquent retort to Mr. Delingpole: ''tough noogies.'' Considerations of access, accessibility, relevance, and equity are part of the museum's job, just as are collection, preservation, display, and study. The most effective institutions are masters of ''uncompromising compromise,'' committed to providing both access and excellence, even when the two seem at cross purposes.

The answer isn't to retrench into some centuries-old conception of the museum, but to stretch forward to a 22nd-century vision of one. Those institutions that internally focused on their collections and their scholarship a century ago misunderstood their purpose, just as those that over-emphasize their external focus misunderstand it now. This doesn't mean museums should live in the middle of the road, but that they should embrace the entire thoroughfare. It's horribly complex and difficult to do so, but such are all necessary and noble things.

Posted by ataylor at 8:16 AM | Comments (4)

March 28, 2006

The physics of friendship

The Physics of FriendshipPhysics, by at least one definition, is the science of matter and energy and their interactions. So nobody should be surprised when that particular science strays into social analysis, as well. One particularly cool application of this physics crossover is this effort to model social interactions based on laws of the physical world.

The physicists crafted a model of particle interaction, and compared it to empirical data taken from a survey of more than 90,000 U.S. students regarding friendships. They found that the patterns of behavior matched quite well -- social clustering, the way friendships evolve over time, the shortest path length in a large group, and some features related to group structure. Says one of the scientists:

''We consider a system of mobile agents (students), which at the beginning have no acquaintances; by moving in a continuous space they collide with each other, forming their friendships.''

After a collision, a particle moves in a different direction with an updated velocity, just as how an individual’s chance of meeting a new person depends on their most recent acquaintances.

While abstract and academic, the model does have practical implications for those who gain from understanding social dynamics (are you listening, cultural managers?):

By knowing the shortest path, communicators can optimize the information flow and improve productivity in a business. With the ability to determine hot hubs or holes in a community, business managers can identify leaders or points that require an organizational change.

Beyond the strategic benefits, the model reinforces something we already know: a rich social network is the result of a large number of people bumping into each other. If we can add energy to that process [insert ''cultural or creative experience'' here] we can influence the shape and flow of our communities in rather dramatic ways.

Posted by ataylor at 8:22 AM | Comments (2)

March 29, 2006

The board-of-directors disconnect

CompassPoint's new report on nonprofit leadership trends (Daring to Lead 2006, available for download here) has lots of great insights for cultural leaders and their boards. Among the most striking of their summary conclusions is this one:

Boards of directors and funders
contribute to executive burnout

Negative perception of the board of directors is strongly associated with executive director turnover. Although a majority (65%) of executives feel personally supported by their boards, most don’t appear to be experiencing a strong strategic partnership. Fewer than one in three executives agree strongly that their board challenges them to be more effective.

If that didn't smack you in the head, you must have ducked.

Compare that finding to John Carver's concise description of a governing board's role:

Simply put, the board exists (usually on someone else's behalf) to be accountable that its organization works.+++

Either a bunch of board members are intentionally doing the wrong job, don't understand their job, or can't do the job they've been given, or two thirds of the executives surveyed are confused (I'll guess it's somewhere in between...tilting toward the board side). Assuming most board members really want to promote strong, compelling, and responsive work by the organizations they govern, there's clearly a structural flaw in our system of leadership that can't be resolved by changing the players. That means we have to change the game.

Thanks, Tracy, for bringing the report to my attention.

+++NOTE: An extended perspective from Carver on how the board achieves this role might be interesting to some. Both quotes are from a downloadable article I've referenced in the past. Here's the meat of it:

Since the board is accountable that the organization works, and since the actual running of the organization is substantially in the hands of management, then it is important to the board that management be successful. The board must therefore increase the likelihood that management will be successful, while making it possible to recognize whether or not it really is successful. This calls upon the board to be very clear about its expectations, to personalize the assignment of those expectations, and then to check whether the expectations have been met. Only in this way is everyone concerned clear about what constitutes success and who has what role in achieving it.

Posted by ataylor at 9:33 AM | Comments (2)

March 31, 2006

Music and Media

The Music & Media Forum, a convening I attended and reported on back in January, has just released its summary report (available for download from the project web site). The forum gathered about 60 leaders from the worlds of music performance, presenting, and electronic media for five primary tasks:

  1. Share current ideas about the issues and opportunities for music in a changing social and technological environment
  2. Consider the emerging environment for media broadly, with an emphasis on what is happening as it affects music
  3. Imagine futures that might generate great opportunities, pose significant challenges, or challenge current expectations about what lies ahead
  4. Identify potential actions that participants could take in one or more of those imagined futures, especially in concert with others with similar interests
  5. Agree to next steps

As I mentioned in my previous post, the forum used techniques of scenario planning to help us all explore not what we knew, but what we didn't know about the future synergies or challenges of music and media.

The forum web site now offers downloadable versions of the short report, the full report with attachments, and transcripts of several interviews used to frame and inform the conversation. I particularly recommend the long version, since it includes outlines of the eight scenarios developed during the process. Each scenario builds on what the group determined to be ''critical uncertainties'' for the future, and projects a world in which these uncertainties are resolved in supportive or challenging ways.

For example, the scenario entitled ''Musical Microbreweries'' projects a world in which shifting demographics in the U.S. have strong and broad influence over all musical composition patterns; audiences prefer music as a service to subscribe to rather than a product to purchase; user generation of content is disruptive to existing media players; and new fragmentation in the music industry makes small players increasingly competitive.

While you're on the site, I also highly recommend the interview with Chris Anderson. It's brain-bending and useful stuff.

Posted by ataylor at 8:32 AM | Comments (1)

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