Audience development and the passion behind the arts

This morning, I blog to you about something personal, as me, Shoshana, not as ADS.  While scanning articles this morning, I fell upon a delightfully charming concept in the The Atlantic:

How to Listen to Classical Music, and Enjoy It

This is the second post in a series by Benjamin F. Carlson. I can tell very much that this series is a labor of love for him, his attempt to share why classical music is worth listening to.

I saw the value of this type of format as an audience development tool, but you know what?  As I listened to the examples, something deeper happened.  I happen to be a musician myself.  With over 35 years of piano and  30 years of horn under my belt, I realized that sometimes it takes a little “music bath” to bring me back to the reality of why I chose to be a musician in the first place.

I spent some time freelancing in Chicago, going from gig to gig. I did get caught up at times with “how much are they paying and how long am I playing.”  I showed up to a gig, played, and went home.  I sometimes hear musicians gripe about the fact that we have a gig to go to.  We can get tired and crabby.  I wonder how this attitude can translate to the audience.

The point to all this is, sometimes as musicians (as artists), we forget the reason why we are playing in the first place.  Sometimes as artists (in general), we get caught up in the business aspects and forget the joy of our art.  I’m not saying that the business aspects are not important to consider, but do we want to treat our art as something as a means to an end or a means to a means?

When I read about artists that are connecting to audiences, I also see that most of these artists are displaying their passion for their art.  We are kidding ourselves to think that Beethoven played technically is the same as Beethoven played passionately.  We are kidding ourselves if we don’t realize that the audience can sense the difference too.

Maybe the core value to all of this is: it’s a little about what we present and how we present, but it is mainly about how we present our passion.  It is easy to get excited about art if the presentation is full of passion for the art. Maybe the decrease in patron support is a direct correlation to the decrease in passion?  Maybe we as artists need to become fully involved in our art again as the passionate artists our inner beings desire to be?

As I  took the time out to sit and listen to the examples of the post, while especially listening to the Beethoven Variations, I discovered tears were streaming down my face.  I had gotten in touch with the reason why I am a musician, why I chose to spend endless hours practicing, learning, and playing music.  I was, in a word, moved. Perhaps as artists, we need to take time on a regular basis to get in touch with the reason why we chose to become artists, and why we choose to share this passion with others.

If we don’t get in touch with this passion, and we blankly share art without it…well…what’s the point?  I highly encourage all artists to dive inward and find the reasons why they are artists.  Find what inspires you to feel that inner passion again.  The joy we feel will translate to our audience.  They will feel our joy – it’s contagious!  This is what art is about, the passion, the means to a means.

This weekend, I will be performing with the Colorado Wind Ensemble.  The music selections are old standards that are dusted off each summer.  Now that I have had my “music bath,” I will go into the performance with a more passionate attitude, be grateful that I am doing what I love to do, and play my bars and bars of after-beats with gusto!

Shoshana

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Filed under arts advocacy, arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development

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