This Week’s Insights: Study points to arts audience class bias… That would be a no to intermission ads in the theatre… Do we need trigger warnings for theatre?… How public libraries are reinventing themselves around their audiences.
- You Get The Audience You Deserve? We talk a lot about the kinds of audiences the arts attract and the kinds of audiences we’d like them to attract. The audience you get depends on many factors – some direct, and others systemic. This story speaks more to the systemic. A study rounding up many other studies in the UK reports that “people with higher incomes attend arts events in disproportionately high numbers, but they are less likely to actively participate in cultural activities. Participatory arts activities are more popular among those with flexible working schedules and more disposable time than among “those who are both objectively and subjectively ‘busy’, who opt for less time-consuming forms of leisure.” The consequence is that arts audiences and arts participants are sharply divided by class and income level. The notion that “the arts are for all” is a fallacy, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What it means is that we need to be intentional about the kinds of audiences we want and then figure out not just the art that will appeal to them, but the systemic means of getting it to them.
- Keep Your Ads Out Of Our Theatres! So it wasn’t exactly a scientific survey, but an online poll showed significant audience resistance to running ads during intermissions at the theatre. The online survey was held in response to news that English National Opera is seeking permission to project adverts on to its safety curtain. Of 443 respondents to the poll, which asked: “Would you object to theatres screening adverts during the interval?”, 62% said they would object and 38% said they would not. We were frankly surprised that the vote in opposition wasn’t higher – who wants yet another piece of our attention cluttered with attempts to sell us things?
- Should Theatre Come With Trigger Warnings? As theatre addresses more of things like mass shootings and sexual assaults, the warnings have arrived. “The phenomenon has led to searching discussions at theaters large and small, pitting a traditional impulse — to preserve art’s ability to surprise, shock and stir — against a modern desire to accommodate sensitivities and not alienate paying customers.”
- The Astonishing Willingness Of Public Libraries To Adapt To Their Users: Many thought libraries might simply fade to irrelevance in the digital age. Far from it. Public libraries are thriving, having reinvented themselves to all manner of public service. Many have become the new community centers with events and classes. Others have experimented with broadening the things users can borrow. Some libraries in upstate New York have begun adding cake pans, cookie cutters, and other bakeware and utensils to their circulating collections. It’s part of the spreading practice referred to as the “library of things.”