Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Global Warming or Just a Hot Day?

The way youth orchestra is done has to change. It may be charming to see young people in tuxes and gowns perform Beethoven, but it's getting increasingly difficult to talk them into doing it. And if nobody's listening--especially their peers, what's the point? Despite its history, beauty and educational value, schools don't teach cursive anymore because no one uses it. We need to find out if classical music should be any different.

I can't see how anyone paying attention wouldn't agree with Greg Sandow at ArtsJournal:

"Of course, maybe I'm just too extreme. Maybe I'm out beyond left field, raving about global warming, when all we're seeing is a hot day. Or maybe, on the other hand, the field is too conservative. Take your pick. But I'd offer the following as one perspective that ought to be more than a provocation:

1, The arts are in crisis. There's not enough audience, not enough support. Why else are we having all these debates?

2. From outside the arts, the world looks very different from how it looks inside the arts. And, above all, the arts look very different.

3. There's even a literature partly about the arts, written by people in the outside world, including such widely read items as the Richard Florida book I mentioned above, and John Seabrook's Nobrow. People in the arts don't seem to know these books. Certainly they're not cited very often, even in the middle of debates where what they say is directly to the point.

4. People in the arts don't pay enough attention to what people outside the arts think.

5. People in the arts need to pay close attention to what people outside the arts think. Because if you don't have enough audience, or enough funding, or enough advocacy...well, we can all connect the dots ourselves.

But people in the arts are, in my experience, far too focused on inside-the-arts thinking. They (including me) talk, talk, talk about how to engage a new audience, without spending enough time considering what that new audience is really like."

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