On February 25th at 5:00 PM at the Black Dog Cafe, Ann Markusen will speak about a new paper she authored with Alan Brown that details the shifting landscape of engagement as the public moves from "audience" to "participant."
Faced with excess capacity, changing demographics, and new technology, traditional theatre owners, live performance companies, performing artists and musicians are struggling to find and maintain audiences. Conventional ways of doing so—marketing, outreach, incentives— are failing.
Why? Narrow programming is one culprit: the performing arts are still tightly tied to Euro-American fine arts conventions that do not often reflect working class, racially diverse, and young cultures. Can diversified programming diminish the distance between performers and potential audiences?
Researchers studying participation also show that contemporary audiences care as much about the setting as the performance itself, challenging venue owners and artistic directors to curate the setting as part of their offerings. Recent decisions to design, build, or renovate large new performing arts venues in the US and UK have (or have not) taken this new sensibility into account. Who has done it well, and why?
And finally, participants are seeking greater engagement in the act of artistic creation, including co-curation, a very challenging idea in the performing arts world. How can arts organizations respond?