FROM TC: Yesterday, I invited You've Cott Mail readers to share their predictions for the arts in the coming year. Thanks to all who sent in submissions. Since the entries below were written specifically for YCM, there are no links to outside sources. Here are the responses I received:
In 2013, arts will shift focus from sustainability to accountability
Matt Lehrman, principal of Audience Avenue consultancy and ArtsJournal.com blogger
This year, the term "Value Proposition" will replace "Sustainability" as the focus of public policy, philanthropic and audience development efforts for the arts & cultural sector. In the face of strained economics, shrunken budgets and on-going advancements in communication technologies, the ambition of "sustainability" has been revealed to be a mirage. Engineers and physicists long ago concluded that the laws of thermodynamics make it impossible to create a perpetual motion machine (i.e. one that continues indefinitely without any external source of energy). Yet, the notion of "sustainability" has been advanced with expectations that the non-profit arts & cultural sector can survive (and thrive!) exclusively from the operation of its own programs and services. The focus on "Value Proposition" drives the arts & cultural conversation back to something concrete & immediate: to direct accountability to audiences, members, donors, sponsors, and communities. This is not a minor semantic change. Neither is this a theoretical question for the ages. The focus on "Value Proposition" drives right to the heart of a mighty and potentially insidious question: "Who should be paying for arts & culture in America?"
Related: In 2013, too much time will be spent on how to sustain the arts
Jane Sarther, College of DuPage [Glen Ellyn, Illinois]
Prediction: Much time, energy and money will be spent prophesying how to support/sustain arts organizations, when the reality is we should just do what we already know (mission driven organizations that serve the community and arts). And if the organization cannot sustain its mission, then the organization shouldn't exist!
In 2013, Big Data will radically change the shape of arts management
Rick Lester, CEO of TRG Arts
The reelection of Barack Obama in November marked a tipping point for the arts, but not because of a change of public policy or a shift of power in Washington. We reached a milestone because of HOW the President won. He won because of the power of big data to identify individual voters, understand their attitudes and then encourage their behaviors. Big Data tools got the President's supporters to the polls and assured the needed votes on a neighborhood basis in all-important swing states. Big Data is radically changing the shape of business. The arts will be no different. After decades of a guildhall mentality, new managers' training will forego traditional wisdom. Data and facts will find their place at the conference room table. Management decisions that now rely upon the HIPPO theory (Highest Paid Person's Opinion) will begin to fade in 2013. Instead, smart (and probably younger, not-yet top earning) managers will arrive at meetings armed with facts. Who is our audience? Who is not our audience? How do we put the needs and expectations of our patrons at the center of our organizational planning? In 2013, data will win - just like Obama did.
Related: In 2013, older arts leaders will continue to ignore Big Data
Paul Botts, a member of various theater boards
Alarms will be sounded about an erosion of arts funding from individual donors, government, corporations and foundations; hands will be wrung about a continuing proliferation of new arts non-profits "dividing up a diminishing pie"; neither of those complaints will be contextualized except in terms of vague and/or anecdotal clichés regarding how much better the arts used to be supported in this country and/or are supported overseas. The failure of the arts sector to provide a living wage to professional artists will be bemoaned; a wave of articles and books will newly reveal the inadequacies of existing arts business models such as 501(c)(3); neither of those complaints will be contextualized except in terms of vague and/or anecdotal clichés regarding how much better artists used to be supported in this country and/or are supported overseas. The new and rigorous national-scale datasets which could enable meaningful and contextualized critical thinking regarding issues such as funding trends, artist wages and arts business models [AFTA's Arts Index, the Cultural Data Project, etc.] will continue to be ignored by our sector's Boomer-generation "thought leaders"; the generations younger than us will continue to wait for us to finally shuffle off out of the way.
In 2013, a palpable positive shift in the perception of arts integrated education
Frances McGarry, Ph.D., Host/Blogger, "First Online With Fran"
With the New York City mayoral campaign fast approaching, candidates will be addressing education as one of its top issues; that said, the child who lives in a less desirable neighborhood wrote how he wanted a "SoHo education." Research data continues to show the value of arts inclusion strategies across the curricula. Utilizing the Arts (music, dance, art, theater) as an instructional tool across subject areas functions as the world's equalizer: it transcends poverty, and emboldens educators to take risks in their pedagogical practices. Voices from the trenches are being heard: children's lives are transformed by the Arts: The Arts Rejuvenate. The Arts Restore. The Arts are our Supernatural gift. No gun laws, or legislature can instill and sensitize a people to be all that they can be than to realize what makes them human and thus, contributing citizens of our nation.
Related: In 2013, a new wave of music education
Conductor and composer Stephen Brown
I predict that a new wave of music education is incorporated into more schools' curriculum, and more people than ever before attend orchestra concerts for the first time in their lives.
Three 2013 predictions about arts education, non-traditional venues, localized arts
Devra Thomas, theater manager, Deep Dish Theater Company [Chapel Hill, NC]
(1) Rather than have and have-nots (rich kid conservatories or at-risk youth programs), arts education will permeate schools to provide every kid the opportunity to express their thoughts and question who they are. Teachers will seek arts methods to encourage personal growth and understanding. Creative writing, performing personal stories, sharing written music and visual art with classmates will be important methods to identify troubled youth before they pick up violence or drugs. a volunteer arts person (parent, artist, administrator) meets with teachers to determine how to weave this story-sharing into the classroom work. It's not an afterschool after-thought, it's not an extra expense to be borne by either the school or the parent who can't afford it; it's interwoven into the school day. Every grade should be like kindergarten: tell YOUR story, through whatever medium resonates.
(2) Performing arts go to their audiences. More and more shows -- dance, theater, music --will be in non-traditional spaces/venues/outdoors. No walls means no silly "what should I wear?" barrier perception. Audiences will demand interactivity, and performers best be ready to accommodate this desire, whether it be a sing-along musical, a post-dance rave, or immersive theater.
(3) Communities will start to see massive shift in their arts infrastructure. The ones who give up their responsibility to create their own art, instead raising temples to the traveling "approved" shows, will find their artists disband and go elsewhere. Communities which support their artists will find their artists support them, and these regions will grow in economic viability. Arts training schools will encourage the new practitioners to invest their talents where they are most needed, not in the communities that are over-saturated with mediocre art.