Quote of the Day: "You have to find the right six people..."

From the play Six Degrees of Separation by John Guare

Ouisa Kittredge: I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people.  Six degrees of separation.  Between us and everybody else on this planet.  The President of the United States.  A gondolier in Venice.  Fill in the names.  I find that (a) tremendously comforting that we're so close and (b) like Chinese water torture that we're so close.  Because you have to find the right six people to make the connection...


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Commentary: Using technology to extend the audience experience

Peter Linnett, Asking Audiences blog, 5/1/11

My brain is still buzzing from two days of presentations, conversation, and debate at the second annual Culturelab convening at the University of Chicago. Day One was an invitational affair with a small group of philanthropic and government funders from the US, UK, and Australia. On Day Two we were joined by Chicago-area arts leaders (and some terrific grad students who will become arts leaders) for an "emerging practice" seminar. The heart of the agenda was a debate about technological layering onto arts experiences: enrichment or distraction?  For the last few centuries the dominant tradition in aesthetics has focused on the encounter of one perceiving-and-judging subject (that's you) with one work of art or performance. And that's still how most arts experiences are set up: they bring us together as an audience in order to isolate us as beholders, in the belief that connecting with the art(ist) is possible only to the extent that we're not connecting with each other.  Nowadays, though, that sounds like a lonely business. We want others in the experience with us. We don't want to have to cut ourselves off in order to have those encounters with art. That doesn't make us boors, and it doesn't mean we're not paying attention. It just means that we are, as columnist David Brooks reminds us in his new book, social animals. And back in the day, weren't arts experiences plenty social?  Most advocates of technology in the arts talk about it as an engagement tool, a way of enriching and extending that traditional connection between audience and art. Maybe that's missing the point. Maybe we should think of it as a humanization tool: a way of enriching and extending the experience by connecting audience members to one or more of their fellow humans -- artist, curator, director, musician, critic, sure, but also (and just as legitimately) their fellow beholders, friends who may not be present, social networks...


Presentations from 2011 CultureLab's Emerging Practice Seminar

University of Chicago's Cultural Policy Center website

CultureLab's Emerging Practice Seminar is a concerted effort to bring forward promising new practices in the cultural sector and transmit them to the field.  Each year, two practice areas are selected that represent important developments for the arts field. The 2011 seminar [included a session on the] uses of technology in audience engagement.  The discussion featured several case studies drawn from arts organizations from Chicago to Sydney:

Topic Introduction by Tim Roberts, ARTS Australia

Layered Arts Experiences: engaging audiences with real-time interpretive content.  Presenter: Alan Brown, WolfBrown

Tweet Seats:  Engaging audiences through Twitter inside and outside of venues.  Presenter: Vicki Allpress Hill, The Audience Connection

Mobile Interaction: adding content and context: Engaging audiences and visitors through QR codes and mobile apps.  Presenter: Ron Evans, Group of Minds

Uses of Foursquare and Other Geolocation Technologies: A study tracking 76 nonprofit theatres on Foursquare in the past year and a half, and several mini case studies.  Presenter: Devon Smith, 24 Usable Hours

Best practices in uses of video content to attract and engage audiences and visitors.  Presenters: Linda Garrison, Director of Marketing & Communications and Thomas Weitz, Digital Assets Manager at Steppenwolf Theatre.


Live Nation offers Starwood hotel guests tickets and premium music experiences

Ticket News, 5/4/11

In 2010, Live Nation experienced a disappointing year for tickets sales, but the company has hit on a new promotion this year that could help the live entertainment giant move more concert tickets.  Live Nation is teaming up with Sheraton Hotels & Resorts to offer two tickets to select amphitheater shows to guests of Sheraton who book weekend stays at one of the chain's hotels before September 5th. The tickets, which will be lawn seats, are valued at about $80.  Guests can receive tickets to see shows by artists including Brad Paisley, Selena Gomez and Sheryl Crow.  How many pairs of tickets the company hopes to give out was not disclosed, and the financial terms of the deal were also not made public.  The arrangement continues Live Nation's sponsorship alliance with the deep-pocketed Starwood Hotels brand, parent company of Sheraton, and gives the concert promoter exposure in hotels throughout North America. Corporate sponsorships have been a bright spot for Live Nation over the past year, despite slowing ticket sales, with the company posting year-over-year gains in the category.  Earlier in the year, Live Nation and Starwood announced a separate premium ticketing sponsorship deal for the hotel's Starwood Preferred Guest program. That offering centers on more upscale, once-in-lifetime opportunities for preferred guests, such as music lessons from various artists or private access to watch concert sound checks by some performers.


New audience engagement website tests sales of on-demand arts experiences

AEP blog, 3/21/11

The Audience Engagement Platform [website] aims to help artists offer "more art, more often" in ways that are unique to them and increase their sustainability. In advance of the public launch [of AEP], an early team of Case-Study Artists have published an inspiring mix of "On-Demand" experiences, where their fans can engage with their work in new ways.  As the name implies, these experiences will happen when a fan books it, making opportunities available that they never knew were possible.  No need to wait for your favorite artist's next live show any more!  These artists have created unique experiences, customized for their fans to provide a personalized entrance into what makes their work distinctive. The suite of experience types, designs and features for the artists to use will keep growing alongside the community of artists. Current On-Demand Experiences include: performance parties, original choreography, custom designs, private coaching, and many others.


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"Open source" ticketing software, ver 1.0, launches online

Andrew Taylor, ArtsJournal The Artful Manager blog, 5/4/11

Cool things are evolving at Fractured Atlas, as they announce version 1.0 of their open source ticketing and patron management software for independent artists and small arts organizations, ATHENA. The initiative is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and The Kresge Foundation, and informed by a community-driven design process. As one might expect, version 1.0 of the software is just a beginning, with essential tools and services to evolve over the coming months and over coming versions.  The software will eventually be available in two flavors:

  • In full source code, for you software geeks that want to install the system on your servers to take it for a spin (and begin designing and sharing enhancements through the open source process).
  • In a hosted version, where you can essentially plug and play through the cloud, without having to think about the server or the system configuration. This version isn't up yet, but they're accepting beta user applications.

Of course, there are a lot of options for sharing, selling, and tracking your tickets online, and more options by the moment. But ATHENA's promise is in its open-source approach, and its system-savvy hosts at Fractured Atlas (not just technical systems, but business and support systems). It will be an initiative worth watching.

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