Archive for March, 2010

“Buy People Beer If Necessary”

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Free Beer

Photo by ATP Admin — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

The free beer give-away is CD-Baby Derek Silvers’ mantra for the future of the music.

As posted in KArts Culture News, Greg Knot, of the Chicago Tribune, brought together some the best ideas — and the clearest obstacles — to the future of the music biz, as discussed at last week’s SXSW Music Festival.

In a future that’s all about audience access to tunes, what about the artists’ access to money?

Silvers’ advice is to make money the old fashioned way: give away something for free to get audiences to pay.

The good news from SXSW is that the trend is towards the live event. Recordings are becoming more of a platform to entice the listener to the live event, rather than the artist to fan end product.

This is also good news for all of the live arts. In the same way that music festivals help to lead the festival industry, the music business can help lead the live arts industry: Define what you can give away for free to encourage audiences to come to the live performance.

Small arts organizations might even discover a more radical approach: give away the event for free to encourage audiences to purchase merchandise, recordings, or other take-homes.

The point is to follow the audience’s needs, rather than the arts’ wants. As Eric Garland of Big Champagne said, “You have to find some way to be essential.”

Get it? Give a little, get a lot.

- Bill Reichblum

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Judi Dench Has a Message for You!

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Dame Judi Dench

Photo by Thore Siebrands — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Dame Judi Dench knows what’s important for you.

Each year, the International Theatre Institute of UNESCO selects an accomplished artist to honor “World Theatre Day.” Who wouldn’t believe what Dame Dench tells you:

World Theatre Day is an opportunity to celebrate theatre in all its myriad forms. Theatre is a source of entertainment and inspiration and has the ability to unify the many diverse cultures and peoples that exist throughout the world. But theatre is more than that and also provides opportunities to educate and inform.

Theatre is performed throughout the world and not always in a traditional theatre setting. Performances can occur in a small village in Africa, next to a mountain in Armenia, on a tiny island in the Pacific. All it needs is a space and an audience. Theatre has the ability to make us smile, to make us cry, but should also make us think and reflect.

Theatre comes about through team work. Actors are the people who are seen, but there is an amazing set of people who are not seen. They are equally as important as the actors and their differing and specialist skills make it possible for a production to take place. They too must share in any triumphs and successes that may hopefully occur.

March 27 is always the official World Theatre Day. In many ways every day should be considered a theatre day, as we have a responsibility to continue the tradition to entertain, to educate and to enlighten our audiences, without whom we couldn’t exist.

Entertain. Educate. Enlighten. If theatre’s raison d’être is good enough for Aristotle, and Dame Dench, shouldn’t it be good enough for you, too?

Get in the spirit of World Theatre Day. Go see a play.

- Bill Reichblum

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Situation Critical

Monday, March 15th, 2010

The Sky Is Falling

Photo by Keturah Stickann and John Menier — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

It’s déjà vu all over again.

Two years ago, in our Critical USA post, we covered Michael Riedel of the New York Post lamenting the cutbacks of two daily newspaper’s theatre critics in New Jersey. Riedel wrote, “they’re newspaper drama critics, those once all-powerful arbiters who, with a vicious turn of phrase, could close a show, humiliate an actor, bankrupt an investor.” Isn’t that amazing? Really, has there ever been a better description of critics and their arrogance of self-importance? What better way to link Aristotle, Diderot, Lessing, Kierkegaard, Shaw and Esslin to today’s American low achievers.

Now there’s another round of rallying to the critics’ aid. The industry newspaper, Variety, has let go both their film and theatre critics. The “breaking entertainment news” publication will still publish reviews, but from freelancers, not paid staff. As posted in this week’s KadmusArts Culture News (OMG: Can There Be Art Without Critics?!?), David Cote in the Guardian takes to the ramparts on behalf of critics everywhere — well, everywhere but online, in the audience, in academia, and in literature. It’s the loss of the daily scorecard that seems to get him most exercised:

You’ve seen the books speculating on what our cities would look like if humans vanished and nature were allowed to spread unchecked. Let’s imagine a world without critics… So we’ll turn to the blogosphere, or those we follow on Twitter and other social networking sites, to find a consensus. But there will be no consensus, just a pullulating buzz of artists promoting shows, audiences offering their opinion, badly written amateur reviews, friends promoting friends, and maybe –- just maybe –- a few informed theatre going bloggers whom we trust…

Is the world really coming to an end?!?

I confess that I am a daily newspaper junkie, including all the reviews. Moreover, I, too, am concerned about the downgrading of arts and culture reporting across all media.

However, wouldn’t it be fair to ask the same thing of critics that we ask of artists? When artists create a show that is badly received, we are quick to point out that the production did not connect with an audience. Maybe that is what has happened to the daily critics Cole misses: they don’t connect with an audience.

How often have you learned something from a review? Did you learn about the history of the production? Did you learn about the production’s influences? Did you learn the creator’s intention? Did you learn how to place this work in the context of others — both past and current? Did you learn what worked and what didn’t, and why?

Maybe, just maybe, the problem is that critics are doing a bad job.

No wonder their show is closing.

- Bill Reichblum

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Free Festival Tickets

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Tango Fest LogoSing it out: The Best Things in Life are Free!

Falling in love is free. A beautiful sunset is free. Sleeping in the forest is free. Finding any festival in the world on KadmusArts.com is free. Now, going to a festival is free.

Our friends at Zero Hour Tango Fest and Rock, Paper, Scissors are offering free tickets through KadmusArts.com. If you want to tango, email Ana Maria at anamariah@kadmusarts.com with the subject line “Zero Hour Tickets”, and let her know. On Sunday, March 14, we will hold a random drawing of the all the emails we have received. For all the details — and an additional offer for discounted ticketsclick here.

For more about this great festival, listen to our exclusive interview with Alfredo Minetti, festival producer.

Free online connection to every music, dance and theatre festival in the world. Free festival and artist promotion. Free tickets to festivals. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

- Bill Reichblum

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Art & Government: Bad Romance

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Lady Gaga

Photo by Naomi Lir — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Are artists worth listening to? Only after dark.

At least that’s one conclusion to draw from the British Home Office, which commissioned Dr. Linda Papadopoulos to examine the sexualization of young people in media, entertainment, and the arts.

As posted this week in KadmusArts’ Culture News, the Guardian’s coverage of Dr. Papadopoulos’ one hundred page report focused on one key recommendation: require broadcasters to ensure that music videos featuring sexual posing or sexually suggestive lyrics only be available after 9:00 PM.

Go ahead and quickly run through the songs and performers this kind of government approach would cover. Doesn’t most of our popular music for over the last century contain “sexually suggestive lyrics”? Don’t even think about reading the ancient Greeks.

Dr. Papadopoulos, from the London Metropolitan University, is a psychologist commonly known as “Dr. Linda.” Her website — “Hi! I’m Dr. Linda and welcome to my Website. I’m really excited about my new website. We spent a lot time designing this and I’m having a great time using it and I hope you’ll find it enjoyable and informative too!” — encourages you to check out her current media schedule. After all, “Dr. Linda is not only Cosmopolitan magazine’s resident psychologist and a contributing editor, but she also writes a hugely-popular monthly column and interviews celebrities for the magazine’s celebrity-feature articles.”

Oh, wow! Except for that whole not liking or understanding arts thing, she’s really cool!

Like Dr. Linda, I, too, am a parent who pays a lot of attention to my fourteen year old daughter’s engagement with contemporary culture. Like Dr. Linda I, too, am supportive of any initiative that helps address the horrific crimes of violence against women and girls. The difference is that after reading Dr. Linda’s report, I believe my daughter has a better understanding of artistic expression and its impact.

Dr. Linda and her team “reviewed hundreds of articles from the fields of psychology, sociology, education, politics and media… interviewed people working on the front-line with abused children and abusers… spoken to young people, parents, teachers, clinicians, academics, policy-makers and lobbyists.”

Did you notice a representative group that’s missing? How about speaking to the artists who create the work the academics find inappropriate and appalling?

Wouldn’t art producers, from museum directors (with all those naked and idealized bodies!) to novelists (Philip Roth, what have you done to us for all these years!) to song writers (Lady Gaga, how could you want his psycho, his vertical stick?), have something significant to contribute to this kind of “independent review”?

Yet, again, a group of academics believes that artists do not really understand their own work or its ramifications. Moreover, most of the artists they object to are much closer to the age and experience of young people than the academics doing the scolding. Isn’t it possible, as in so many other ages, artists are merely reflecting the times in which we live?

Besides, in our age of online access, quarantining certain material to a time period after 9:00 pm is not a great solution to any problem of creation and distribution.

Even if one chooses to ignore the history of art, one ignores political history at great peril. Any time a government proposes that controlling artistic expression is the solution to a society ill, we should be concerned. Any time a government believes artists to be a cause of society’s ills and not just voices reflecting their own experience, we should be vigilant.

The history of governments restraining artists is a lot worse than the history of artists restraining government.

Another of the report’s key recommendations is to continue to fund all of their research, along with the requisite new academic periodical. Here’s hoping Dr. Linda and her team do get the funding. Maybe the team will be able to learn a little bit more about the history of art, and even have the chance to ask artists what they know about what they do.

Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah, Roma, Roma-ma, GaGa, ooh la la, Want your bad romance, indeed.

- Bill Reichblum

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