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Friday, June 2 • 9:45am - 11:15am
Learning From the Past and Preparing for the Future: What Can We Expect?

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Overtaken by Events: Why do North American communities keep building performing arts centers for artforms that cannot sustain them?
Jim O'Connell

North America has experienced four booms in the construction of performance spaces. The 1880s brought Opera Houses; the 1920s, Movie Palaces. The 1960s placed Performing Arts Centers in cities and on campuses. In the first decade of the 2000s, a surge of construction/renovation sited performance facilities in struggling downtowns and connected them to public schools.

Two things are striking about these continent-wide booms: The regularity of the cycle (1880s, 1920s, 1960s, 2000s: every forty years!) and the fact that, in each case, the primary artform for which the new performance spaces were designed was in decline even as new facilities were constructed. Vaudeville began to be overtaken by silent film in the mid-1890s. Silent film was eclipsed by talkies starting in 1927. Symphony Orchestras and other non-profit tenants of performing arts centers yielded financial primacy to touring Broadway shows by the 1980s. And the publically-traded entertainment behemoth Live Nation was forced to sell its Broadway Across America subsidiary in January 2008 due to the inconsistent profitability of theatrical tours.

The question then is Why? If they wish to host currently popular artforms, communities must upgrade or replace venues that are no longer up to the task.  But why does that renovation/construction take place so late in the life-cycle of each successive artform?

Drawing from such studies as Joseph Golden's Olympus on Main Street (1980), Set in Stone by the University of Chicago's Cultural Policy Center (2012) and Building for the Arts by Peter Frumkin and Ana Kolendo (2014), I examine the process of cultural building booms. With the guidance of such works as Mary P. Ryan’s Civic Wars (1997), Deyan Sudjic’s The Edifice Complex (2005) and Robert Gordon’s The Rise and Fall of American Growth (2016), I attempt to place each one in historical, psychological, cultural and political context.

I argue that, although trends in popular culture, aesthetics and advances in technology spur the need for new/renewed venues, the timing of construction surges depends more upon advances in building materials, construction and fire codes; changes in transportation and residential patterns; civic pride, and generational transfers of wealth and power. I will conclude with an effort to identify trends that may shape a fifth performance building boom, a quarter-century from now.

Body & Soul: Combining Slow Food successes and Music Cities metrics to invigorate the sustainability of music and the performing arts
Catherine Moore

The hypothesis for this paper is this: "A music-centred initiative explicitly modeled on the Slow Food movement and using sustainability metrics from the Music Cities research base will counterbalance Baumol's "cost-disease" problem and expand opportunities for performing arts organizations."

To examine the hypothesis, this paper brings together (a) comparative analysis of the Slow Food movement (founded in 1986), with a focus on multi-national localization, grass-roots communications networks, and success in changing long-standing consumption habits and production protocols; (b) research and theoretical frameworks recently developed by the multi-national Music Cities initiative; (c) a re-examination of economist William Baumol's "cost-disease" concept (first published in 1966) and new models for measuring labour productivity; (d) an assessment of new ways to measure success in the nightclub industry and the ways that artistic creators either affirm or negate a sense of place; and (e) a case study on music and arts initiatives in the city of Glasgow, Scotland, with a focus on funding models, results measurement, and the city's explicit prioritization of the arts as a contributor to a sustainable city.

It's important to note that in applying the Slow Food ethos to music and the performing arts, the word "slow" does not mean soft, bland, simple, or slow-paced. Instead "slow" connotes taking the time to savour complexity, to be enriched by repetition and variation, to value and enjoy listening. The idiom "keeping body and soul together" inspires the title of this paper because it resonates so deeply with the health of people and cities through the arts.

The results of this investigation will test the hypothesis; create new ways for arts organizations to measure and communicate value; and be relevant pedagogically by illustrating how a practical framework can anchor teaching about start-ups and value creation.


Speakers
avatar for Catherine Moore

Catherine Moore

Adjunct Professor, University of Toronto
Catherine Moore is Adjunct Professor of Music Technology & Digital Media, University of Toronto. Formerly Director of the NYU Music Business Program, her teaching focuses on strategy, international expansion, start-ups, and new technologies. Dr. Moore is a graduate of Bishop's Un... Read More →
avatar for Jim O'Connell

Jim O'Connell

Assistant Professor / Arts Management Coordinator, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
After twenty-two years as executive director of Wausau’s Performing Arts Foundation, Inc., managing the historic Grand Theater and Wisconsin’s most comprehensive local arts agency, Jim O’Connell moved to the academic world in the Fall of 2014. He now serves as Assistant Pro... Read More →


Friday June 2, 2017 9:45am - 11:15am
QMU MacKay Room Queen Margaret Dr, Musselburgh EH21 6UU, UK

Attendees (11)