This Week’s Insights: Arts education as a class argument… The Van Goghs in a shopping mall… China’s movie producers fudge the box office… The Shaw Festival’s audience experience strategy… Massive ticket-buying database released.
- Arts Education – The Class Argument: There’s been a shocking decline in the number of arts teachers in UK schools. So fewer students are growing up being exposed to the arts. But there’s a more insidious problem. Children from better off families likely get some exposure to the arts because their parents can take them. Same with music lessons. Or dance. But killing arts ed in schools means that children from poorer families will be much less likely to engage with the arts. And the gap between working class and wealthy further widens… David Wood: “The danger, or the sad thing for me, is that the wonderful audiences that come [to children’s theatre] on the whole are quite middle-class – they are the type of parents who want their children to go to the theatre. What we all desperately want is children who are not automatically going to come to the theatre because their parents wouldn’t take them, and the schools are the ones that are going to bring them.”
- Will Van Goghs In Shopping Malls Build Arts Interest? It’s a straightforward outreach program to connect with people who may rarely or never visit a museum, let alone Amsterdam. But the reproductions are made with a new process the museum calls “reliefography” – and (this is in a mall, after all) some of them are available for purchase. Okay – so people see knockoffs of famous art in shopping malls. Is this a meaningful experience? And the fact they have the opportunity to buy said art suggests it’s more a retail market experience than anything else. In an age that bombards every one of us with constant streams of images, surely the mall museum has little chance of delivering something meaningful.
- Audience-As-Commerce: China Tries To Fudge Audience Numbers: The movie industry is flourishing in China, and the industry is trying to go global. But how to show the biz is a winning investment? Many investors reportedly put money into films as a stock-market manipulation scheme, buying up blocks of unsold tickets and even entire screenings so that the perception of success will push up a company’s share price. Film production is also used as a way to evade capital-flight controls and transfer large sums of money out of the country.
- The Shaw Festival Engagement Strategy: Like many other arts organizations, Shaw has figured out it is selling experience, not shows. “[Artistic director Tim Carroll] points to the nearly endless number of meet-up opportunities: the post-show talkbacks, the cocktail hours, the classes and clubs, the pop-up patios, the escape rooms, the speakeasy jazz nights, and garden tours, some of which are for friends and members only, many of which are open to all. ‘I think all of that is as much part of the Shaw experience as coming to the shows,’ Carroll said. ‘People sign up for the whole ticket.’”
- Huge Data Set On Audience Behavior Released: There are now more than 600 organisations participating in Audience Finder, including “performing arts venues, touring companies, museums, galleries, festivals, outdoor arts and many other kinds of cultural organisations”. Their ticketing data has been gathered over the past seven years and dates back to 2011/12, although data from these early years is less comprehensive and accessible than more recently gathered information. So what can we learn?