I saw another listing of an orchestra filing for Chapter 11 today. Right now I am hoping and praying that more people will start seeing the value of audience development and do what they can to give it a fair try. It is sad to see artists and arts organizations in trouble, especially when they have so much to offer.
Yesterday was my favorite pianist, Van Cliburn’s birthday. My Twitter friend @alanayu alerted me to a NY Times article last weekend:
This article points out the love that Russian music lovers have for Van Cliburn and that he was an ambassador for the United States during international high-level meetings between the Soviet and American leaders.
It pointed out how special he was to them. They gave him the nicknames, “Vanya” or “Vanushka.”
A Russian violinist, Artur Shtilman, recalled the tremulous words of a janitor who said the performance had left her strangely transfixed: “This young man, really just a boy — he plays, and I sit and cry. I myself don’t know what is happening to me, because I have never listened to this music, and I simply cannot tear myself away.”
Special artists and arts productions can do this for us – touch us so emotionally that it changes us in those moments to be open to much, much more.
I was digging through YouTubes of Van Cliburn yesterday to post various clips in celebration of his birthday. I found this absolutely amazing clip that made me feel exactly how the janitor from the article describes. I was an emotional wreck with all the different emotions washing over me. I share this clip with you now to show you that the arts are worth funding and that audience development is very much needed to ensure the future of the arts today. Audience development will provide support for the arts by helping to build audiences and getting them more involved by supporting further through volunteering, donations, sponsorships and more. Some people are naturals at it, which I feel Van Cliburn very much was. He formed relationships with the people of a country that seemed almost impossible at the time to relate to (so we thought). Through his music and his personality, they are still his friends and supporters, and he is still their “Vanya.”
I hope you enjoy this clip. Notice the picture of the full house crowd intently listening to every note. To me this example stands for everything that is beautiful about the arts.
Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Audience Development Specialists
“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”