Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Inventing the Future of the Arts - 7 Key Trends

I recently contributed a chapter to the book: 20 Under 40: Reinventing the Arts and Arts Education for the 21st Century. For the next few days, I’ll be presenting excerpts from that chapter here, in hopes to get some more conversation started about these issues, and in the belief that if you like what you read here you might buy a copy of the entire book – or just recommend it to a friend. I’m editing each section down a fair bit, not so much to “force” anyone to buy the book, but because while this remains long, I felt some sections needed shortening to fit the blog format. Read on, send me your comments and please share!

My fundamental argument in the chapter is that the disruptive changes we’ve seen as a result of digital technology will eventually affect all arts and cultural activities, not just those we’ve seen impacted thus far (print, music, film). Unfortunately, most arts organizations are being reactive and are trying to fit digital into their existing ways of operating, which mimics precisely those mistakes that led to crises in other industries. They must instead look strategically at these changes and make fundamental changes to their business practices in order to turn these challenges into opportunities.

While there are many challenges facing the arts, I argue that there are seven key trends brought about by digital technology that will arguably have the greatest impact on the arts sector:
  1. The future is “Downsized and Merged;”
  2. The rise of for-profit and with-profit endeavors;
  3. Disintermediation - the audience as curator;
  4. The rise of participatory culture;
  5. Communal conversation trumps marketing;
  6. In a world of free, the future will reside in find;
  7. The new, new media literacy is electracy

We’ll explore the first of these trends next (edited from tomorrow, as in: when I get to it), where I argue that the future of the arts is going to be "Downsized and Merged."

While most of the next few posts are geared for those of us working at/with arts organizations, I do think any artist can benefit from reading these posts and contributing their voice to the conversation, so please do so in the comments.

You can see all of the 20 Under 40 chapters here, and buy the book (or E-Book) here.
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