I’m starting a new occasional series with this post: Rush Seats. These will be short posts sharing something I think you’ll find interesting and useful. I can see a few different types of posts fitting in this series:
- Thoughts on a timely topic about arts audiences
- A resource that I’d like to lift up
- Ideas or analysis that are still in process
- Other items that don’t quite merit the nearly 1,000 words that I usually write
Let me know what you’d like to read in the Rush Seats series in the comments.
First up in Rush Seats is a collection of people I’m following on TikTok sharing explainers that are friendly for new arts audiences and arts insiders alike. What I like about each of them is the depth and insight they provide while also being engaging, authentic, charming, and often funny.
If you work for an arts institution and want to try to capture the vibe that these creators have, I wish you good luck. The TikTok accounts I’ve seen from arts organizations have the tone of the everyday arts marketing. And that’s fine, it’s to be expected. I’d love to see better attempts at creating content that is truly informative and entertaining at the same time, like the people I talk about here, but the status quo is the status quo. Individual creators are simply freer to share what they want how they want it. An institution will probably never be able to hit that note. If you know of a TikTok account run by an organization that breaks free of the atmosphere of institutional marketing, let us all know in the comments.
Mary posts about what the real life of a working opera singer is like, including her experience as an autistic person. At the moment, her followers (including me) are all cheering her on as she prepares for her German language exam. A few weeks ago she took us along as she sung her way through Holy Week gigs. Look out for her common sense ideas on how to make opera more inviting and accessible to new audiences. And I’ll be using her video on personal budgeting as a freelance artist in my careers class this fall.
Jane has a self-directed project to visit every museum in New York City and share her adventures with all of us. Her videos show her and a rotating cast of friends visiting museums. She makes the most of TikTok’s short video format by showing a few of her favorite highlights and tips on visiting. Jane works in both front of house and backstage in entertainment venues, so also posts about those experiences and live performances. She is simply delightful. Every NYC museum should be clamoring to be next on Jane’s list to visit. See also this feature on her museum TikToks on CUNY TV from 2022.
Cynthia packs a lot into her videos about how the ballet world works, especially in context of its history. I have learned about technique, the ranking system in ballet companies, and what distinguishes one renowned ballerina from another. She deftly uses video footage to illustrate her points and never talks down to her viewers.
Of all these areas, I know theater best because it was my world for umpteen years of my life. I don’t know that Joe would consider his videos explainers, and that’s probably not the best word for them. Joe’s videos are mostly thoughtful reviews of shows he sees in New York (and he seems to see everything, I’m terribly envious) and other observations on current theater goings-on. He shares his informed thoughts on the shows, acknowledges his own preferences and taste, but he doesn’t squeeze out the joy of being a fan that clearly loves the art form and the business.
Art history is actually juicy topic if you get into it, and Mary is here to give you just enough to pique your interest and up your knowledge in a few minutes. She answers questions that we are probably too afraid to ask our museum friends for fear of looking like we didn’t get a well-rounded enough arts education and also current hot topics, like AI generated art.
Give each of them a follow. You might learn something new or get back to that feeling when you first discovered the art form you love.