What can the American orchestral world learn from major league baseball? The two industries have more in common than you might think–as Elizabeth Scott explores in this post. After years as a media executive for MLB, she joined Lincoln Center last fall in the newly created role of Chief Media & Digital Officer. She joins us in San Francisco on Sunday, May 13 for our free Talking About Audiences event—register today!
Broadly speaking, audiences today occupy a vastly changed position in the entertainment landscape, compared to only a decade ago. In that relatively short time span, technology has enabled and encouraged audiences to be far more active in their entertainment experiences. Technology has also amplified that activity. Industries that are harnessing rather than hampering this audience empowerment stand to thrive in an ever-fractionalizing entertainment environment. As the character Billy Beane says in the film Moneyball, “Adapt or die.”
Them’s fightin’ words. But entertainment consumers wake daily to a participatory, perpetually plugged-in culture of community conversation. Multi-platformed, interactive experiences of entertainment have increasingly become an audience norm. Today’s sport fan, TV reality contest viewer, and YouTube surfer don’t necessarily have more opinions than audiences of earlier eras; they just have more immediate, more numerous and farther-reaching microphones than ever before. (more…)
Sunil Iyengar directs the Office of Research & Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts. Since his arrival at the NEA in June 2006, the office has produced over 20 research publications and revised the major federal survey about arts participation. What does this mean for administrators, audiences, and musicians? Hard data on some of the thorny issues we think about everyday.
As we gear up for Sunday’s Talking About Audiences event, one recent NEA study certainly helps quantify a trend we’ve been exploring in the last few months—how technology is changing the orchestra’s relationship with its audience. (more…)
Where do we find audiences? In this post, Ben Cameron—Program Director for the Arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation—argues that the concert hall is only one place we should be looking. Ben Cameron joins us in San Francisco on Sunday, May 13 for our free Talking About Audiences event. Register today!
How questions are framed inevitably guides and often limits our thinking. I am especially struck by the observation in this blog that “…the core orchestral presentation—a live, on-stage concert—is essentially unchanged over the past 100 years. Will that, can that, remain the case for the next 100 years?”—a “can” that seems to imply an aspiration to retain that format and an overall frame that provokes several questions of my own.
Are there reasons that the experience of the last 100 years should be definitive? (more…)
Next week, we’ll be sitting down with Ludovic Morlot and leaders of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) to discuss Community, Creativity and Audience—the three big topics we’re exploring here at the American Orchestra Forum. Morlot is leading the BSO this month in concerts on the West coast and is also Music Director of the Seattle Symphony.
The idea of civic engagement is popular these days, and many conductors give it lip service without much real substance. Morlot, though, has done more than talk; he has put energy and ideas behind his words. He has conducted not only gala and subscription programs but also family concerts. The Seattle Symphony has instituted a program offering two free tickets for children between the ages of 8 and 18 to any adult who buys a ticket to a subscription concert. There is a post-prison education program as well. Morlot even threw out the first pitch at a Seattle Mariners game in August. (“I did pretty good, actually. I had a 20-minute training session the day before, on the hill.’’)
He is especially proud of a project called “Sonic Evolution,’’ for which the orchestra commissioned three composers to write new pieces, each inspired by a legendary Seattle musician: Jimi Hendrix, Quincy Jones, and Kurt Cobain. The undertaking “is destined to be addressing an audience that might be intimidated by the classical music genre and repertoire,’’ Morlot explains. “But still, I think everybody deserves to have that first contact with live symphony music. So I’m trying to be creative with my team – to be as versatile, as flexible as possible – as diverse in what the offering is, so that the audience can be versatile and diverse as well.’’ Read the full article.
While the event next week isn’t open to the public, we hope you’ll join us here at symphonyforum.org to follow our live blog. We’ll also be posting podcasts developed from the discussion later this month. If you have a question for the BSO, we’d love to hear it! You can leave a comment below or email us.
Jesse Rosen, President and CEO of the League of American Orchestras, will speak at our first live event in San Francisco on Sunday, October 23. In this video, he shares a few reactions to recent conversations happening here on the American Orchestra Forum website — from the Attica prison riots (really! see this post if you missed it) to how music can be the catalyst for deep personal transformation. In the end, it’s all about how music, and orchestras, can connect with people and communities on the most fundamental level.
Deborah Borda is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and will appear in conversation with Gustavo Dudamel at our live event on Sunday, October 23rd. She recently sat down with Jim Farber of San Francisco Classical Voice for an interview and had some interesting things to say about the role of the orchestra in its community:
You can’t manage an orchestra the way we did 20 years ago, even five years ago. It used to be that as a manager all you had to worry about was the artistic imperative of putting the best show you could on stage. Of course, you still have to worry about that. But in addition, as our society has changed, there is a new moral imperative that we have not really addressed or thought about. Symphony orchestras are cultural institutions. But we are also human service institutions and we need to consistently demonstrate our value. That’s especially true when you are saying to the community, “You need to give me 60 percent of my budget to sustain the institution.” Read the full interview.
Afa Sadykhly Dworkin is the Vice President of Programming and Artistic Director for the Sphinx Organization in Detroit. She will be joining us for our October 23 live event. Here is an introduction to the Sphinx Organization, featuring an interview with Ms. Dworkin. “Sphinx is working towards a future where every young person, regardless of their cultural background, can make classical music a part of their everyday life.”