If you didn’t catch my recent Huffington Post contribution, I wanted to re-post it here. It is a reworking and reapplication of the post below from March 6th. The HuffPo are shortly adding an Arts Page (about time!), and a number of colleagues and friends that I greatly respect have been asked to post to it, so check it out in mid-May. Once June hits and I have a little time again, I will be up and posting again like crazy. With the Open Engagement conference coming up in Portland on May 14-17, the American Association of Museums conference here in LA, and some other social practice-related sideline research I am working on this month, there will be plenty to write about. Stay tuned!
How Art Museums Are Striving to Stay Relevant for a New Generation
As I’ve been perusing my upcoming spring of various arts-related conferences (both academic and professional), a common question emerges again and again throughout these disparate events: how must art institutions change to re-engage current cultural audiences?
The upcoming American Association of Museums (AAM) conference (happening here in Los Angeles in late May) is called “Museums Without Borders” accompanied by some fuzzy language about “connection, community, cultural identity, and the power of the imagination,” but many of the actual session titles betray an overriding preoccupation: how to get new and younger audiences in interface with museums in innovative, user-generated, participatory ways.
The overwhelming consensus (as evidenced by the alarming aging of audiences to traditional arts venues – like museums, the opera, performing arts) is that younger generations of Americans eschew the largely passive role of audience, and demand participation from their art institutions. A recent article by Diane Ragsdale for the Stanford Social Innovation Review analyzes this trend in detail.