Commentary: The arts are in trouble because there is not enough excellent art  

Michael Kaiser, The Huffington Post, February 14, 2011

The arts are in trouble because there is simply not enough excellent art being created.  Today, far more inventiveness can be found in popular entertainment than can be found in the classic arts. The embracing of new technologies and the willingness to try new things seems to have become more the province of rock music and movies than of opera, ballet and theater. We are losing the attention of Americans because we are not producing work that is new, fresh and daring. No wonder so many newspapers are no longer covering the serious arts. The classical arts have simply not kept up. There is so little work that is new and daring. In an effort to build our audience base we have tried to substitute celebrity for excellence and bigger sets and costumes for insight and true beauty.  The institutional nature of our arts ecology means that groups of people are now more responsible for arts making than the individual. Boards, managers and producing consortia are overly-involved.  And these groups are misbehaving. They are overly-conservative, subject to "group think" and so worried about budgets that they forget that bad art hurts budgets far more than risk-taking does.  It is popular to bemoan the fact that young people spend too much time communicating vapid thoughts on Facebook or Twitter. I think this is unfair to younger people. We in responsible arts positions must give them something to talk about. 



















Video: "The Future Of Art", February 14, 2011

The Future of Art was shot from the 1st through the 6th of February 2011 during Transmediale [festival in Berlin]. The short film asks the following: What are the defining aesthetics of art in the networked era? How is mass collaboration changing notions of ownership in art? How does micropatronage change the way artists produce and distribute artwork? The creators behind The Future of Art describe the project as "an immediated autodocumentary" where "immediation is immediate mediation -- an instant transfer of experience into media, enabling self-reflection and perspective shift. Immediation enables collaborative storytelling via frameworks of participation. Autodocumentary; auto as in autodidactic + documentary. Autodocumentaries are made by the people they are about."


Commentary: The theater of the future

Meiyin Wang on, February 9, 2011

In the future theater will encompass the full spectrum of performance and its possibilities: dances without people, actors without words, visual art installations, object theater, high technology and gaming, choose-your-own adventures, one-on-one interactions, flash mobs, high sensory interactions, rock concerts, radio shows, Broadway spectaculars, stories told in living rooms and fire-lit caves, full and all-consuming environments that will engulf you, one-minute gestures that will change you.  It will not replicate reality but instead turn it on its head to tell us deeper truths.  Theaters will have to turn into cultural centers, bringing the arts back to the table of civic discourse, leading the conversation in society, instead of having a conversation with ourselves. We will no longer casually import theater makers from big cities into other cities to make work that artists in their own city can. It is no longer responsible environmentally or artistically for that matter.  New ways of thinking of artistic exchange will emerge. Theater will need to become about less waste. No more disposable sets.  Speaking of recycling, shows can no longer go up for six weeks and disappear forever. I think more festivals will emerge for new work that cannot sustain six-week runs but are vital nonetheless in the theater landscape. Borders, both artistic and national, will become increasingly porous as artists will move in and out of countries.  


Commentary: Personalizing dance will draw the next generation of audiences

Andrew Carroll in Dance/USA's e-Journal, From The Green Room, February 3, 2011

For many who might attend a live [dance] concert, lack of experience and education in the art form can inhibit a personal connection.  An example of a presentation that has excelled in personalizing the dance experience for the audience is the popular Fox television show "So You Think You Can Dance." The short filmed sketches of each contestant's story personalize the viewing experience. Journalist Theodore Bale recently wrote this personal element is a key for the show's success: viewers "learned about Adechike Torbet's tough childhood in Brooklyn, Jose Ruiz's boyish crushes, and winner Lauren Froderman's student teaching in her hometown studio. When dancers share their moods and emotions, viewers form a stronger connection with them, and are more likely to return to watch them perform."   Why doesn't live concert dance take this up? Videos that depict the hardship, tears, trials, triumphs, laughter, nerves, and excitement of performing endear dancers to their audiences, who may relate to similar emotions in their own experiences. Video could be continuously played in theater lobbies where patrons pick up tickets before curtain time, or even at the start of the performance as an introduction to the final product. The video could also be played on campus or in an arts district, where people eat and congregate.  As dance advocates, teachers, and presenters, we must recognize and respect [the] changing landscape and open ourselves to strategies that may best appeal to future generations. The art, beauty, and communication of dance deserve this.


Commentary: What is the future of art without copyright protection?

Scott Turow, Paul Aiken & James Shapiro.  New York Times Op-Ed, February 15, 2011

When Shakespeare was growing up in Stratford-upon-Avon, carpenters were erecting the walls of what some consider the first theater built in Europe since antiquity. Other playhouses soon rose. Those who paid could enter and see the play; those who didn't, couldn't. By the time Shakespeare turned to writing, these "cultural paywalls" were abundant in London [and] for the first time ever, it was possible to earn a living writing for the public. At the height of the Enlightenment, the cultural paywall went virtual, [with the creation of copyright laws].  Our poets, playwrights, novelists, historians, biographers and musicians were all underwritten by copyright's markets.  Today, these markets are unraveling. Piracy is a lucrative, innovative, global enterprise. The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on Wednesday on "targeting Web sites dedicated to stealing American intellectual property," and the White House has pledged to propose a new law to address rampant piracy within the year. But writers and other creative workers should still be worried.   The rise of the Internet has led to a view among many users and Web companies that copyright is a relic, suited only to the needs of out-of-step corporate behemoths.  Certainly there's a place for free creative work online, but that cannot be the end of it. A rich culture demands contributions from authors and artists who devote thousands of hours to a work and a lifetime to their craft. Since the Enlightenment, Western societies have been lulled into a belief that progress is inevitable. It never has been. It's the result of abiding by rules that were carefully constructed and practices that were begun by people living in the long shadow of the Dark Ages. We tamper with those rules at our peril.

Please consider the environment before printing out this email.  Thanks.
YOU'VE COTT MAIL is a free service for professionals in the arts.  Emails are sent most weekdays. 
If you are not already on the distribution list and would like to sign up, please click here:

Join Our Mailing List      Follow me on Twitter     
Click here to view an archive of recent past editions of "You've Cott Mail."