So, last Thursday night, as part of a new series of Forums hosted by the Adelaide Festival Centre, (In Conversation), Fenella Kernebone facilitated a brilliant discussion on Building [Arts] Audiences Collaboratively, Not Competitively with some of Adelaide arts heavy hitters, and Gordon Frost, who’s production of Wicked is currently taking over the town.
As is its won’t, a Twitter hashtag (#inconvo) was used by audience members and participants to comment on proceedings. From it, and subsequent reviews and blogs, this is where the wheels began turning on a heated debate among Adelaide’s arts community, especially concerning opinions that the forum was dismissive of younger generations and their engagement in the arts.
I encourage you to do as I shall tonight and listen to the forum podcast (an enormous 100MB+ file on Soundcloud – link here) and read through the Twitter comments and articles for background and clarity (which I’m still seeking) on this debate, which appears, at first glance, separate to the forum’s original intent to discuss Collaboration in the arts among arts organisations.
Online articles in response to the event include:
Ianto Ware (Renew Adelaide) blog post:
Kay Jamieson from Brink Productions expands on her company’s collaborative work:
Arts Blogger Jane Howard’s blog post (to which I immediately shot off the below, admittedly not researched, response.):
I’m still spitting chips about not being in Adelaide to attend this forum, especially in light of the fantastic responses it’s generated.
I’ve just finished downloading the audio from the event, and look forward to listening to it for myself before commenting more fully.
However, for now, I’d have to say I agree with a lot of what you and Ianto have said about the forum’s (apparent) dismissal of young people as uninterested and unattainable. Having spent the last almost three months immersed in the arts cultures of cities to Adelaide’s east, and knowing the brilliant work of Ianto, Renew Adelaide, Tuxedo Cat, Magazine and others in Adelaide to attract young people to the arts, I also find this hard to believe.
Maybe too part of the answer lies in (and apologies for this if it seems I’m having a go) ‘Arts Worker SA’s’ [earlier blog] response above that
“You can’t sell something to people if they don’t want it… State Theatre has examples of this sort of programming throughout their seasons of pieces that might be artistically vibrant and interesting but even the best marketing and communications with a wide audience cannot get people in their seats.”
For generations becoming increasingly individualistic, used to one on one communications with friends on social networking sites, and very wary of the mainstream media, maybe marketing messages thrown out to appeal and be communicated ‘with a wide audience’ are never going to work. (and individualism doesn’t just apply to generation y.)
Just a thought.
(and isn’t it great that we’re having this debate!)
To clarify, I haven’t yet heard the forum audio, so have only the comments of the above linked blog posts to go on in forming my – to date – comments on the forum itself.
In my opinion, to get to the crux of the original topic for the forum, I believe collaboration between groups is key – especially in a city the size of Adelaide, to building new audiences.
This extends to all levels of arts organisations talking to each other, businesses and groups outside of the arts, and especially to direct, two-way communication with their audiences.
I’m very proud to have been brought up in Adelaide, a city renowned since Dunstan for its artistic prowess, and even more so since travelling interstate and hearing of the esteem South Australia, Adelaide and particularly our festivals are held in the eyes of practitioners over east.
But is it still the case that we’re leading the nation in innovative, forward thinking arts policy and programming? Is there a buzz and love of the arts permeating through a passionate wider community?
Sadly, I don’t think we are or that there is.. at least, not to the extent that I’d like and have seen elsewhere..
Why? Not for the reasons you might think.
to be continued.. 🙂