I hope you had a nice weekend! I found this weekend to have a common theme that I wanted to share with you. The concept of copy and paste and how it is affecting our artistry, audience development, and the future of arts administration.
I started off the weekend reading The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamine Zander. I am about 2/3 into this book, and it offers a fresh perspective on how to relate to people with a broader mind and more creative agenda. It starts out with an example of 9 dots in a box formation, and you are asked to connect all the dots in one line (without lifting your pen/pencil). The solution is not forthcoming if you confine yourself to this box. You have to go beyond the borders in order to accomplish the task, and the line (spoiler alert) does not form a box in the end, but a triangle.
I also went out to dinner to celebrate a friend’s birthday. She is a professor at our local university. She was mentioning the challenge of presenting her work without using a PowerPoint presentation and instead relaying the information in a more visual way. She is a believer that her students will learn more with this visual aspect, that they will absorb more by really listening and paying attention. She received complaints on her feedback from the students. 60% wanted her to go back to her typical PowerPoint. They wanted everything point by point. They wanted the .pdf of the presentation. They do not want to “waste time” listening and attempting to create the lesson in their own words. They are afraid of missing what will be on future tests.
We had a big discussion about how education is becoming a copy and paste function instead of a creative learning process. With all the standardized testing formats, the PowerPoint bullet presentations, there is no outlet for students to take a concept and run with it. Instead, they feel uncomfortable going beyond the box and would rather copy and paste the content to get the grade. Getting the grade and graduating is the objective, not learning and creating for themselves.
If graduate level education has resorted to this copy and paste mentality, we are certainly heading toward a slippery down slope for propagating the next generation of creative minds. This also will most certainly present problems for the up and coming arts administrators in our future. We are already starting to see the Arts, in terms of audience development and marketing, falling into this same copy and paste mode, despite the fact that we are the creatives in our world.
There are still a few among us that are generating new content and new ways of outreaching to our audiences, but I see a great deal of “buzz words” and “buzz programs” being copied and pasted. Despite the original idea being sound, this will not increase our audiences because one size does not fit all. You can take a program from one area, and it may not work when recreating this same program for another area. Copying and pasting will not work for us. We all have different audiences, unique people that are attending our events. We need to get beyond the copy and paste mentality to create our own specific programs in order to build our individual audiences.
To me, this is a slightly worse scenario than the templates I had mentioned before. At least with a template, you can tweak it a bit to fit your own needs. With copy and paste, there is no individuality at all. Our audiences are being subjected to another audiences’ ideal, not their own.
So, yes, I am concerned about the future of arts and education if the copy and paste mentality becomes the norm. The only way we can get out of this box is if the arts leaders of today start creating outside of this box themselves. I do hope that they will!
Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Audience Development Specialists
“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
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