Audience/Costumer Involvement


As I was reading, I was drawn to a discussion I had with a professor about audience participation in the artistic process.  Orchestras, ballet companies, museums are all sourcing artistic decision making to the audience. They outsource programmatic decisions and call it a triumph of democracy.  A recent blog post commentated on some recent examples. This is all in line with our discussions on the convergence culture.  They’re breaking the barriers between producers and consumers.  This practice, while innovative, engaging, and exciting, bastardizes art as we know it. Artistic directors are experts.  To source their work to the audience diminishes the capacity of their organization to actually produce high-art.  From media work, I’d equate this practice with the idea of “improper disposition.” When we source our work to the audience we “mix the mundane with the noble. “ (Deuze, P. 192)

Mission statements direct non-profit arts organizations.  Often, these mission statements include a striving towards artistic excellence.  How can an arts organization say it’s fulfilling its mission by relinquishing control of artistic choices?

A stark juxtaposition with the above idea is the Coca-Cola Freestyle fountain machine.  By putting more choice, and the freedom to create individualized soda concoctions, the Coca-Cola Corporation is embracing convergence culture.  And it is to the benefit of all parties.  They’ve created a smarter and more efficient delivery device for their products in the process.  It is in the best interest of Coca-Cola to make this product.  But, not all organizations should have efficiency and customization as a goal.

-Charles Palys


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