Today’s topic is a little controversial, but I want to put this out there. Are we as artists expecting the world around us to change to bring us an audience instead of us being pro-active and possibly changing a little ourselves to get a better audience?
I recently commented on the Jazz.com blog. They are having the discussion about “is jazz in crises?” They are talking about how jazz is close to being dead and why it is close to being dead. There is a finger pointing game that is going on without any real solutions. I popped in to offer some questions for them to get them to think about solutions and not just the problems. However, I think there might be a mindset that jazz is jazz and should not change in the least bit. I’m not sure this attitude is getting them an audience.
I also want to point out that the museum, theater and classical music worlds used to be in this vicious cycle, but I think we are finally coming out of it. I am now seeing some innovative audience development and marketing ideas that are getting noticed. I am seeing attempts to change the way we promote and collaborate to stretch the boundaries, to think outside of the box. It’s a very exciting time! This does not mean that the core offerings have to change, but the ways we bring new people into our circle did need to change.
Change is not easy, but it can be taken on as a fun and interesting endeavor. I think most of us are afraid of change, but most of us also do not see that changing a little of how we connect and promote will also give us the good changes that we want, a bigger and better audience. In some ways, these changes will leave us feeling more fulfilled and more honestly ourselves than we were before. We want to share our art forms, right? If we keep trying to share our art on our own terms without bringing the audience into the equation, will we still be able to share our art? We would mostly be creating for ourselves and no one else. Is this the point of art? Maybe sometimes, but if we want to make a living on our art, it definitely is not the point.
I may be rambling a little here, thinking this through myself, but after visiting the Jazz blog, I see that we are so hesitant to make the changes necessary to better our lives because we are afraid of it changing who we are. But, is who we are now, the not being able to obtain an audience and share our art really who we want to be?
I think we all need to push through this fear of “it will change us” and continue to allow ourselves to evolve. We need to let ourselves reach out with our art in new and inventive ways and make new and inventive connections. This is the only way, in my opinion, that we as artists and arts organizations, especially those of us in the more classical arts sectors, will be able to continue sharing our art forms with what we perceive to be healthy audiences.
The bottom line, audience development requires effort and it requires change. Change is the only constant, but with good audience development, change for the better with a constant audience can be our future.
Until next time, may your audiences be happy and loyal ones, and if they are not, feel free to contact me!
Shoshana Fanizza is the founder of Audience Development Specialists. Her mission is to introduce artists and arts organizations to their existing and potential audiences and to help them to form more rewarding relationships.
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