Arts Presenters: Marie Trottier

December 8th, 2008

Marie Trottier is the disabilities coordinator for Harvard University, working with the schools, departments, and performance spaces to ensure disability compliance and foster a culture of inclusion throughout the institution. She is also a successful actor and member of the regional Screen Actors Guild, who has played in a broad range of roles in commercials, music videos, and movies. Marie is a featured speaker at the 2009 Arts Presenters conference session “Reach In/Reach Out: Embracing a Culture of Accessibility and Inclusion”.

In this podcast Marie talks about how creativity and flexibility go a long way to ensuring access, why human contact between patrons is essential to a culture of inclusion, and how errors and mistakes can be teachable moments.

This interview is part of an ongoing series with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

 
 Arts Presenters: Marie Trottier [14:06m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Arts Presenters: Mark Russell

December 7th, 2008

Mark RussellMark Russell is the artistic director of the Under the Radar Festival, a two week extravaganza of exciting and experimental theater. Previously, he was also artistic director of P.S. 122 and Portland’s Time-Based Art Festival.

In this podcast Mark talks about the structure and design of UTR, the purity of voice coming from performances, and the need to continuously make the case for art in public life.

This interview is part of an ongoing series with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

 
 Arts Presenters: Mark Russell [10:56m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Prepare for Harmony

December 1st, 2008

Photo by Wally Gobetz — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

As we approach the end of a tumultuous year, we can’t help but look ahead towards 2009 with a curious mixture of hope, excitement, and given our world’s politics, religions and economies, some trepidation.

This year has inspired many of us to go back to the basics, to reevaluate our lifestyles and to redefine the things that matter — that truly make us happy and our world a better place.

To find peace is a challenge in this hyperactive world of non-stop action and twenty-four hour online communication. However, don’t we all seek a bit of a rest-stop in our fast-forward lives? A safe haven where calmness, and thankfulness, are allowed to thrive?

We want to make sure that the New Year will provide opportunities for peace, good-will, and even a touch of the sacred, the ancient traditions carried inside each of us.

KadmusArts is looking to profile festivals throughout the month of December that celebrate the music of the soul and our communal quest for harmony.

From massive concerts that encourage the practice of non-violence to groundbreaking theatre festivals where exiles and refugees share center stage, sacred arts festivals play an important role in cross-cultural connection and the preservation of cultural traditions.

Let us know your recommendations for festivals that explore the relationship between faith and interfaith, biculturalism, and the sounds of spirituality.

After all, where would we be without artists giving us their visions live in the desert or live via satellite?

Aren’t you ready for a little peace? A little soul? A little harmony?

- Bill Reichblum

Interview: Marianne Weems

December 1st, 2008

Marianne WeemsThe Builders Association has launched their new production, “Continuous City” in different venues in New York this month. The piece explores how technology impacts human relationships using multimedia and interactive tools. This Thursday and Friday it is playing at EMPAC (at RPI).

In this podcast we talk with Marianne Weems, artistic director and co-founder of The Builders Association, about the subject matter of much of her work: technology, surveillance and globalization.

 
 Interview: Marianne Weems [10:39m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Turn Off, Tune Up, Drop In

November 24th, 2008

One Less TV

Photo by Kevin Steele — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Did Timothy Leary watch a lot of television? Probably not. If he did, he might have suggested the path to total happiness would be to turn off, tune up, and drop in.

As posted in Culture News, an “extensive research study” has proven that watching television makes you unhappy. Really. You knew it to be true. Now, so do sociologists.

In a University of Maryland study that took place from 1975 - 2006 (wasn’t this before The Wire?), with 45,000 adults, co-author Dr. John P. Robinson has the numbers to show that television both comforts and leads to a miserable life.

Robinson, who is “a pioneer in time use studies”, comes to absolute conclusions: not only is television used more by people who are not happy in their lives, but using more television makes you more unhappy in your life.

“Not happy” slugs watch thirty percent more television than those of us who are “very happy.” Danger, Will Robinson: “unhappiness leads to television viewing.”

As published in the December issue of Social Indicators Research, Robinson also proves the corollary: “TV does cause people to be less happy.”

What do happy people do? According to Robinson, we read more, we socialize more, and we have more sex.

There’s more: unhappy married couples watch thirty percent more television; happily married couples have thirty percent more sex.

Pity the one whose life spirals down and out from addiction. TV as low-life addiction? “These points have parallels with addiction; since addictive activities produce momentary pleasure but long-term misery and regret. People most vulnerable to addiction tend to be socially or personally disadvantaged, with TV becoming an opiate.”

If you watch a lot of television: you are unhappy; you don’t have a lot of sex; and, you are socially and personally disadvantaged. Got it?

So, turn off the television; tune up and play some music with others; grab a date and drop in to a live performance. You know what will happen — and, your life will be better.

- Bill Reichblum

Interview: Todd Mack

November 24th, 2008

Todd MackTodd Mack is the creator and producer of FODfest — Friends of Danny. This annual festival celebrates the life and ideas of the late Wall St. Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl, who believed in the power of music to bring people together, regardless of their religious or ethnic background. Todd is also the owner of Off The Beat-n-Track, a recording studio based in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.

In this interview we talk with Todd about the origins of the festival, how a life can inspire countless artists, and planning for FODfest 2009.

 
 Interview: Todd Mack [7:44m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Lincoln 2.0: The Art of e-Lobby

November 17th, 2008

Impressionism

Photo by Antonio Rodríguez — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Artists, artistic and managing directors, board members, and audiences take note: In November of 2007, Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist Mark Penn said, with the kind of disdain only available to those of a mythic-sized hubris, Obama’s supporters “look like Facebook.”

Ooops.

The US presidential campaign losers included a Clinton who was anti-social networking (i.e. what’s the point when we know better than you), and a McCain who was anti-hope (i.e. don’t trust someone who isn’t like you and me, wink-wink).

The losing approach is, unfortunately, replicated across a number of arts institutions and organizations. Amongst so many points of inspiration, Obama’s campaign can have a direct impact on how to make the presentation of the arts more accessible, and better.

Are you looking for how to best use technology to deepen your audience’s connection and to extend your audience reach?

One of the major goals of the Obama campaign, led by campaign manager David Plouffe, was to use technology to create a direct and immediate relationship between the campaign and individual voters.

As noted in Newsweek magazine’s analysis (written by embedded reporters who hold off on reporting the campaigns’ inner workings until after the election), the Obama campaign’s official blogger, Sam Graham-Felsen, said “We never do something just because it’s cool.” Every tool had to have a practical purpose.

Early in the election process, the Obama team hired Chris Hughes, who had been Mark Zuckerberg’s roommate and original partner at Facebook, to be the head of the campaign’s new media and social networking. (Hughes brought us the Facebook “poke” amongst other innovations.) Hughes’ mantra was “I don’t care about online energy and enthusiasm just for the sake of online energy and enthusiasm… It’s about making money, making phone calls, embedding video or having video forwarded to friends.” The key? “When computer applications really take off, they take something people have always done and just make it easier for them to do it.”

The Obama campaign had an iPhone application, which looked really cool, but was actually an incredible data-mining resource. If you hit “call friends” the software would re-arrange your address book in the order of states that campaign was targeting at that specific time. The same application was later used for instantaneous reports back from the canvassing of voters at their homes.

The Vice-Presidential pick was announced via text message, which was an incredible way to match a significant announcement with the ability to collect voters’ cell phone numbers for use later on in the get-out-the-vote work. How many new cell phone numbers did the campaign collect? One million! (One of the new numbers? Beau Biden, Joe’s son. Txt Msg: Congrats Dad!)

How to create a connection at one of those huge rallies? Before Obama would appear, a campaign worker came onstage and encouraged the audience to use their cell phones to call or text their friends and spread the word.

Each step of Obama’s technology strategy was to create stakeholders in the campaign. The campaign was doing what successful arts leaders have always known as the key to audience development: Be in the Lobby.

Today’s (and tomorrow’s) technology allows us to take the post-show lobby presence further. The Obama campaign has shown the way:

  • In the campaign and in the arts, you build an audience one by one. Use the technology to parallel and enhance this grass-roots approach.
  • Don’t tap out donors all at once. Bring supporters along in small donations. Cash keeps coming, and so does the connection.
  • Don’t fear feedback. Crazy as it seems some artistic directors and managers are afraid of unfettered negative response available on blogs and websites. Remember two things: One, most people follow the time honored tradition of if you don’t have something nice to say do’t say it; and, two, you want a response as a way to convert a conversation into a stakeholder.
  • Use your audience to spread the word about an event. Friends believe friends.
  • Follow your audience: Did your subscribers come to the event? Did they bring any friends? Did they give their tickets away? Who was new to the theatre?
  • Use the technology to communicate directly to your audience. They won’t follow if you don’t take time to lead.

If post-election Barack Hussein Obama can be in the White House, then post-performance you can be in the e-lobby.

- Bill Reichblum

Interview: Adriana Sevan

November 16th, 2008

Adriana SevanAward-winning actress and playwright Adriana Sevan has thrilled audiences with her one-woman show Taking Flight. She is the 2008 recipient of the Middle East America Distinguished Playwright award. Adriana has also appeared in guest-starring roles on Law & Order, Sex & the City and Deadline.

In this podcast we talk with her about her newly commissioned work exploring the devastation and redemptive stories in the Armenian genocide. We also talk about her mentoring workshops with at-risk adolescent girls in the Los Angeles area.

Photo by Robin Emtage

 
 Interview: Adriana Sevan [20:22m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Obama: Say the Word, and You’ll Be Free

November 10th, 2008

Barack Obama

Photo by Jack Thielepape — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

President-elect Obama has created something new and resurrected something old.

Courtesy of Obama, we now have the O-generation - those eighteen to twenty-five year olds who have been turned on to politics and are determined to participate in the process.

All praise the O-generation!

The O-generation has come together because of Obama’s resurrection of a lost art form: rhetoric.

Rhetoric is that old-fashioned artistic discipline that uses language to persuade and influence others. The foundation of theatre and literature is in the application and skillful use of rhetorical techniques.

Wouldn’t it seem obvious that a politician would want to excel and be known for his or her rhetoric — their use of language, articulation of thought, and communication of compelling ideas?

Not in the United States. Only a few months ago, Hillary Clinton in a startlingly condescending approach referred to Obama as a man with nothing more than a speech. This reference to his first major public moment as a speaker at the 2004 Democratic convention was meant to diminish his skill, mind, and gravitas.

A politician shouldn’t be able to speak well?

John McCain, never one to miss an opportunity to offer a cutting remark, followed up Clinton’s slap with his own, referring time and again to Obama’s empty campaign trail eloquence.

A politician shouldn’t be able to inspire a nation?

Throughout the campaign, Clinton and McCain tried to tag Obama as nothing more than a young man who could give a good speech, but did not deserve to be in their league of political players. Clinton and McCain, who were wrong about so many things, can add one more to the list.

Obama’s rhetoric revealed the issues of our time, and convinced us of the path to a better future.

Not too long ago, it was not only drama schools that taught rhetoric, but it was also the basis of a liberal arts education.

As the Greeks and Romans knew, the better the rhetoric the better the idea, and the better the arts.

All praise the study and practice of rhetoric!

After all, do words matter? As Sarah Palin would say, “You betcha’!”

- Bill Reichblum

Interview: Anne Galjour

November 10th, 2008

Anne GaljourNationally recognized playwright and actress Anne Galjour draws on her Cajun roots in her gripping one-woman plays. She creates vivid characters and bracing narratives in her solo performances, which include Hurricane and Alligator Tales. Her talents have been recognized with multiple awards, including the American Theatre Critics Association Osborn Award, and the Will Glickman Playwriting Award.

In this podcast we talk with Anne about her most recent piece You can’t get there from Here, which deals with the still-taboo issue of class in America.

 
 Interview: Anne Galjour [17:42m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download