I had the opportunity to attend a forum held by the Arts Engagement Exchange entitled, The Beautiful Struggle: Art & Commerce. It featured acclaimed storyteller Mike Daisey as the guest speaker.
In his speech, he brought up some amazing points, one of them being that art allows for a place to tell the truth. A seemingly obvious statement until he pointed out that in many areas of our life we don’t tell the truth. Being apart of something that examines life and speaks truth without fear of who hears is a rather bold action.
The forum itself examined art from a marketing/ administrative perspective. The role of the administration is to support and promote the arts. That’s all fine and dandy, but as Daisey pointed out, we are using business strategies that are most often used in the promotion of a tangible product to promote something as abstract as art. So at the end of the day when we are tallying numbers and ticket sales we are truly doing ourselves a disservice because we are reducing a nuanced emotional experience to that of an everyday product, his example was bologna.
His goal and his challenge to the people in the room was to focus on the connection between the audience and the art. To promote the experience that brings these groups of people together. Of course the artist gets it but we have to relay that idea to the audience as well. As administrators our challenge is to spread this message but instead of taking the easy way out and looking for simple connections we must go deeper and look to answer the hard questions, such as the “why”. I can assume that people in the 18-25 demographic would enjoy this production but why? Why is there a connection between older people and classical music? Once we answer the why then it becomes clear on how to move forward in sharing this experience with the proper audience.