ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas


Should Docents Be Canceled? My Contrarian Take on the Controversy

As an art critic, I frequently attend press previews (or I did, pre-pandemic), which grant journalist/critics the privilege of

Jazz Autumn: Returns, galas and even awards

If all “jazz” shares a single trait, it’s that nothing will stifle it. Adjusting to covid-19 strictures, Chicago (just for instance) in the past two months has been site of: A stellar Hyde Park Jazz Festival;Herbie Hancock’s homecoming concert at Symphony Center;audiences happily (for the most part – no reported incidents otherwise) observing appropriate covid restrictions in intimate venues where I’ve been — including Constellation, the Jazz Showcase, Hungry Brain and Fitzgerald’s; a heartening multi-kulti success — Japanese taiko drums and shamisen hooking up with Brazilian percussion trio and guitarist, Ukrainian bandura improviser, string quartet, jazz rhythm team all led by brassman Orbert Davis in the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic‘s return to in-person (as well as streamed, and free of charge) performance;the fourth annual Afro-Futurism weekend at Elastic Arts;An AACM 55th Anniversary concert by the Great Black Music Ensemble at the Logan Center;the Jazz Institute of Chicago staging a...

Enrique Márquez talks about serving young artists

Enrique Márquez, Director of Music for the Interlochen Center for the Arts, shares his leadership approach and methods for serving the next generation of artists.

What is Arts Management?

Way back in 2011, I took a shot at defining what a master’s degree in Arts Administration (aka Arts Management) was about. And in the process, I also (kind of) defined what Arts Management was about. Back then, I was focusing on fostering “a more elegant invocation and allocation of people, time, and other resources toward expressive ends.” Through a decade of teaching, research, and consulting since, my definition of Arts Management has evolved a bit. Here’s what I’m using now: Arts Management is the practice of aggregating and animating people, money, and stuff toward expressive ends. For those who wonder why I use those particular words in that particular sequence: Arts Management is a practice. While “management” is often defined as a process of dealing with or controlling things or people, or as a path to optimally accomplish tasks and achieve goals, it is more truly a practice – the actual...

Cruise Ships Turning?

From 2015 to 2019 the Wallace Foundation funded a $52 million program involving 25 large budget arts organizations called Building Audiences for Sustainability. It was designed to develop “practical insights into how arts organizations can successfully expand their audiences.” Recently Francie Ostrower of the University of Texas completed an evaluation of the program. A brief on that study “Why Is It Important That We Continue? Some Nonprofit Arts Organizations Rethink Their Value in Challenging Times” is now available. What Dr. Ostrower found, in my reading of the brief, is that some of these large organizations are continuing to evolve–in a positive way–in their understanding and appreciation of the value of community engagement. nterviewees from a substantial number of organizations (about 40 percent) . . . suggested that notwithstanding their artistic excellence and contributions, changes were needed for it to remain important that the organization continue. Here, they spoke of the need...

The Hope and Frustration of Understanding Audiences

Hannah Grannemann writes about Helen Freshwater's 2009 book Theatre & Audience, which offers relevant, thought provoking approaches to thinking about arts audiences.

#2. Five Observations about COVID and the Arts: The Great Resignation and Beyond

The arts workforce, and those being recruited into it, is changing. "We’ve never had as many openings at one time. And we recognize that in hiring so many positions at once, we have a huge responsibility — and opportunity.”

Five Observations on the Arts 18 Months into COVID: Finances

Many arts organizations are coming out of the COVID shutdown in better financial shape than they were going in.

Quick Study: Local Arts Agencies as Creative Connectors

To celebrate National Arts & Humanities Month, this episode of Quick Study looks at the critical role of local arts agencies in a post-COVID-19 environment. A transcript of this podcast is available at the NEA website.

Love, Solace and Deadly Nightshade

There’s a bit of a hidden treasure, if not quite on my doorstep, then only an hour’s drive away towards the Cotswolds. Compton Verney is an historic manor and parish, with a Grade-I listed  country house, redesigned by Robert Adam in the 1760s and landscaped by Capability Brown in 1768. The tiny parish was 119 […]

Piffaro the Philadelphia Renaissance band: A new sun rises again and again

Once the upstart child of the early-music counterculture, Piffaro the Philadelphia Renaissance Band is now downright venerable at age 40 as its founders are ceding leadership to a generation who learned about pre-Bach wind band literature by memorizing their recordings. Priscilla Herreid moves up through the ranks as the new director starting next season, replacing Joan Kimball and Robert Wiemken who have jointly been given a lifetime achievement award by Early Music America. The world never asked for a renaissance wind band, but Piffaro delivered it at the highest musical standard without ever running out of new ways to redefine our times through the lens of long-ago centuries. The success of its most recent concert in Philadelphia (available on demand until Oct. 26 through wasn’t about an old guard/new guard triumph but the accumulation of ideas during lockdown – reaching back to the Fifth Century – and the emergence...

Down Mexico Way (with a detour to Italy)

I could not at first remember why I bore a grudge against the late Angela Carter. But a rapid ...

Slow & Simple

As part of Engaging Matters’ 10th Anniversary, we are highlighting important and/or popular posts from the past. In reviewing such posts it became clear that many were grouped thematically. As a result, this Anniversary series will, for the most part, present the theme with links to relevant posts rather than simply re-posting individual items. One of the most important elements of effective community engagement is understanding that any programming must wait until the relationship with a new community has progressed far enough that the community can participate in its design and implementation. Trust must be built and mutual understanding developed. This does not happen quickly. And yet, We in the arts have an understandable desire to rush to action. Ours is an event production business. We exist to do. In community engagement work, though, this instinct is almost inevitably counter-productive. We cannot present–or even suggest–meaningful work until we have a reasonable...

“But how is it?” Audience Confidence, COVID and After

What will it take for audiences to feel confident to attend in person at this stage of the COVID pandemic?

Type? Writer.

The lede reads: “Daniel hoped he hadn’t made a big mistake. It was a birth day present coming fr om Europe. Shipping was a big part of the price.” I’m copying from the page above, so it’s all . The package arrived from the U.K. weeks before my Virgo birthday. ” ‘What if you don’t like it?’ I got nervous, but he said he could send it back.” Sure, I could retype the whole first page I wrote on my gift on my MacBook, or scan and copy a doc that would come close. But any accuracy would be challenged by age: mine and the fractured planet of typefaces, fingers, sounds. My boyfriend chose for me my first typewriter, an Olivetti Lettera 22. Not the same object with my fingerprints on it, which may be rotting in a toxic landfill, or be the exact gift to someone else. In case you’re curious,...

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