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Thomas J. West Music

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Ben Cameron On The New Performing Arts Reformation

Once again, another fantastic talk has become available from TED.com - this time, the speaker is Ben Cameron, Program Director, Arts, at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation in New York, where he supervises a $13 million grants program aimed at the theatre, contemporary dance, jazz and presenting fields. In this video, Cameron discusses how the explosion in digital and internet technologies has threatened the performing arts industry and yet has set the stage for a new cultural revolution. Cameron compares today's arts revolution to the religious revolution of the 16th century. They share many points in common: the religious revolution was a product of a sudden increase in technology in the form of the printing press; the religious revolution made information available to the masses rather than controlled by an institution; the religious revolution did not result in the end of institutional religions, but their role had to change. In much the same way, we are experiencing a cultural revolution in the performing arts. Digital technology has made it possible for anyone to become an author, a music composer, a choreographer, a movie director. The internet has made it possible for anyone to distribute their artistic creations to an international audience. Cameron quoted others saying "The means of artistic production and distribution have been democratized for the first time in history... Who doesn't know a fourteen-year-old who is hard at work on her second or third movie?" Cameron states quite accurately, in my opinion, that our culture is shifting from being arts consumers to being arts participants. He mentioned a phrase I had not heard before - this cultural shift is bringing us "Pro-Am's" (Professional Amateurs). Cameron sees the traditional performing arts institutions in desperate need of making the shift to becoming what he calls hybrid artists: people or institutions who create art for civic change. "...making art together to bind a community of disparate citizens to social change." This, in my experience, is spot on. Music education is in the same boat - if we as a profession do not find ways to connect to the entire student body and provide ways for students to create and perform music they can relate to, we are performing ourselves right out of a job. Some other great quotes from this talk: "To conspire literally means to breathe together." "The arts invite us to look at our fellow human being with generosity and curiosity." "We are bound together by commmon cause, to promote a more thoughtful, substantive, empathic world order." Take about fifteen minutes to listen to this dynamic speaker.

Posted by ★ Owner on September 10, 2010 at 9:46 PM 2046 Views

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