I’ve been attending a few Culture industry conferences over the last couple of months, firstly the “Arts & Community Media” event organised by the Community Media Association and the “Building Digital Capacity for the Arts” in London, organised by our UK Arts Council England with the BBC Academy. More recently, Digital Futures In Dance at the lovely Pavilion Dance venue in Bournemouth. (beans on toast excellent, as reported to my Twitter friends)
A theme of all of these events was how the arts and culture industry can broaden it’s scope and reach by embracing the opportunity afforded by the current and evolving technology of broadcasting.
People who are exposed to my regular rants, will know I think it’s high time the funded arts sector woke up to these opportunities. After producing my Gene Pool podcast (and now radio show) online for over 5 years, it’s only been 12 months since my download statistics were accepted by ACE as valid evidence of there being real people listening via the internet. This number is now at 35,000 and I can still barely get anyone in the arts interested in addressing an online audience of that number.
The heart of the problem, in my opinion, is that we’re struggling with an industry populated by people with a very traditional Theatre-based thinking. Success for them being marked by bums on seats, footfall and Guardian reviews. There’s a prevailing comment, even from the National Theatre who are leading the way in the UK with live streamed performances, that the actual experience of being in those plush seats to see the performers in the flesh is simply better than anything else. I’ve yet to hear anyone attempt to define why that is, but the looming spectre which seems to hover over the shoulder of our traditionalists, is the thought that “Perhaps The Internet doesn’t care”