"First Monday Music Club: Trends in Arts Marketing & Presentation

Panel: Janet Allen, IRT; Max Anderson, IMA; Simon Crookall, ISO; David Hochoy, DK moderator: Geoff Lapin, ISO

Hilbert Circle Theatre

Nov. 6

Billed as an “audience participation” event, the audience of over 100 jumped right in for a lively exchange of suggestions for reaching new audiences, retaining the “old” and generally upping the hard numbers of people who attend live performances and visit museums.

Suggestions that politicians need to take an interest in the arts and that education needs to include the arts received rounds of applause, as did the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Simon Crookall’s retort, “Use your votes. Tell your politicians what is important to you,” and an audience member’s reminder, “You need to follow up with letters. Don’t just vote and forget about it. Keep right after them.”

“Students need to be taken to museums, to live performances” was the answer to connecting people to the arts and making the arts a way of life.

“That’s become a problem, too. The arts have become the whipping boy of some segments of society. Recently, a teacher lost her job after a child complained about seeing a painting of a nude amongst a hundred works the students passed at a museum. The polarization, politization of the arts is now a fact of life,” Max Anderson of the Indianapolis Museum of Art added.

“I feel a huge pressure to put on work pleasing to the public and not create controversy,” Dance Kaleidoscope’s David Hochoy offered. “I try to find the right balance. I don’t want to talk down to my audience nor do I want to present something so obscure the market disappears.”

“When people say, ‘I don’t know much but I know what I like,’ they’re really saying I like only what I know.’ It’s familiar, but they are not really seeing what is behind the 19th century work they claim to like and that has become a glossed over placement,” Anderson said.

“At [the Indiana Repertory Theatre], we struggle all the time with how much money to put into building awareness. There’s now an eroding audience willing to buy season tickets,” the IRT’s Janet Allen said. “People say they don’t want to plan that far ahead, they don’t want to commit to a full season.” That’s scary for presenting organizations that traditionally rely on the front-end income of season ticket sales for operating budget.

Ultimately, the conversation boiled down to a basic question: “How can great collaborations be put together?” because panelists and audience alike concluded that it’s a new arts world where collaboration is the only way to survive and grow.