Tag Archives: arts traditions

The uncomfortableness of old and new side by side?

My friend, Dale, sent me a thread to look at on Reddit: Going to my first symphony, what are some tips for my first experience?

This ongoing conversation has me thinking about traditions and their protocols.  The traditions with the respective protocols are generated by people.  People adopt these ways, and a status quo forms.

We are currently in the wave of changes in status quo and our traditions are being challenged.  I have mentioned traditions and status quo a few times now, but I have yet to explore it further than the thought that changes are happening and people are taking sides due to these changes.

Currently, I am thinking about the Amish way of life.  Back in the day, the majority of people churned their own butter, plowed the fields with horses and donkeys, sewed and washed their clothes by hand and built their own furniture.  When steam, gas, electricity, came into the picture, everything changed and the old way of living was put to rest, except in the places where people chose to continue to live the old traditional lifestyle.  We have pockets of the old among the new.  The Amish live a quiet life in a hidden pocket of our noisy society.  They are still in existence and have not died in the process of change.

I feel that we can have pockets of tradition to be side by side with the new.  The key is to figure out which end of the spectrum you choose to live in.  If you do decide to choose the old traditions, which is fine, be prepared to live in your pocket, your extreme niche.  You will still find an audience, yet it will be a smaller, more specific audience.  If you want to break out of the traditions, be prepared to risk, experiment, reach out to new audiences, and change with the times.

It doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.  We can complain about the new audiences and their disrespect for the old traditional way of presenting the arts, or we can choose to be comfortable and live in the direction that we decide is best.  Neither way is wrong.  It’s only a matter of choice!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists



“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

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Filed under Arts, arts management, Audience Development

Audience development and arts relevancy

Every once in a while, I seem to need to ramble about a topic that has popped up in my head with aspirations to be explored more.  Today, I have been thinking about relevancy.  When we think about the products we buy, they need to be relevant to our lives or we will not purchase them.  Products and services have to fill a need or a want that makes sense for us.  Why should the arts be treated any differently?  In consideration of audience development, the audience will require the art to be relevant to them in order to connect with it in the first place.  In order for us to connect and build relationships with our audiences, we too need to become relevant to them.

Though, there is tradition to consider.  Yes, some of our art forms have traditional presentations.  The presentation is a part of what the arts are all about, right?  However, as I mentioned before, the arts pre-19th Century had a different presentation that was tradition in those times.  The arts were presented among the people instead of the standard of asking people to come to the arts and be subservient to the arts that was established as the new tradition.

So, if tradition is actually a standard that is set by the status quo, in order for the tradition to make sense, the traditions need to be relevant for the time (or rather relevant to the people of the time).

The status quo needs to be what people of the day accept, expect and need.  If there are changes that have happened, the status quo will change too, right?  Just because we do something the way we have always done something doesn’t mean that this way is relevant to the new times.

The arts have gone through many changes already.  The arts reflect the surrounding times and function as historical markers for points in history.  We seem to be in a battle with a time for the arts to change once again.  The old status quo is not happy with the changing status quo.  Perhaps this happens all the time, but we are now the ones living through this phenomena so it becomes a personal and relevant issue to explore once again.

The arts are very much like a living, breathing human being.  Let’s say we have a person that wants to look like they are in their 20’s even though they are 50 years old.  This person can attempt with plastic surgery, exercise, diet, etc., but to be honest, they will never be able to turn back time to become what and who they were in the past. Since the arts is a living, breathing and a changing being as well, why are we attempting to control the changes that are upon us instead of becoming accepting and adaptable to the new times with these changes?  Maybe we need to learn to accept that the changes are going to happen and become more at peace with these changes?

The way I see it, the status quo has changed.  How the new generations want to experience the arts and what they want to experience is different than what the older generations want.  The change is upon us and is inevitable, as sure as we grow older each day, we have little control over this fate and function of life. This doesn’t mean that we couldn’t have niches that glorify the days of the old, but that is what these arts presentations will be, representations of the past for people that want to remain in this past.

In order for any art form to “survive,” in terms of audience development, it must become relevant to the new status quo and format and/or blend with new traditions that are relevant. The art form must also change with the times.  The basics of the art form may still be there, but it will be different. These changes are not necessarily bad, just different.  Sometimes the changes might end up being perceived as better.  To the new status quo, they may strongly feel the changes are better.

I see this same struggle throughout history.  People struggle for old customs or values that may not be relevant for today’s general society.  The new generation marches to a different drummer.  The new generation has a different status quo, and when this new generation becomes strong, the traditions will need to change to be relevant to their wants and needs.  Why continue to hurt ourselves when it is so obvious we have once again reached this stage in the life of the arts?

We are artists after all.  Let the arts and artistic creativity be the living and breathing entity it has always been and allow it to grow and change to be relevant for today.  The struggle against this growth only robs us of valuable time and precious peace of mind and the ability to once again reflect the times and be relevant for the audiences of today.

What do you think?

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists



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Filed under Audience Development