A Crisis for Artists-Part 3 Response

 A friend of mine that dances with Texas Dance Theatre (and is fiercely dancing a solo made by yours truly TOMORROW!  If you’re in Fort Worth, don’t miss TDT’s show!) sent me an e-mail responding to my last “crisis for artists” post.  I thought she brought up a good point/comparison, so I’m posting it, with her permission.
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If people have the option to see a movie or live art, and the movie is $10 vs a $20 concert, which will they see?  [note, when we throw out these prices they are just examples that reflect a regional art-going experience.  The more prestigious the venue the more expensive the ticket, however, my friend’s experience, and mine as well, has been that people are even hesitant to spend just $15) The vast majority of “normal” Americans, from my experience, will choose the movie because 1) financial cost and 2) familiarity with the way in which the entertainment/ideas/content is presented.  which goes back to some of your earlier points.  In fact, when I have invited non-dancers/artists to my dance concerts in the past, I have more than once encountered a conversation such as this:

friend:”Well how much is it?”
me: “$15.”
friend:” What!?!?  I can see a movie or 2 for that!! Can’t you hook me up with free tickets?”

(I guess I should mention these were mostly “rough and tumble” guys in their 20s that responded in this way, but I still think there is some validity in the point, considering they are a large population of the non-art-going crowd).

Again, this could partially be ignorance and a lack of full appreciation for art.  But I honestly think it is more a response to uncertain expectations toward art and apprehension to spend money on it.  


 When said individuals from the “movie conversation” actually buckle down and GO to the concert, almost 100% of the time they are pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoyed it, and express interest in going to future concerts (and in fact do go again).  Again, I think this helps support the assumption that people just need to be aware (and honestly not afraid of) art (enter both your “content” and “community” arguments).
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Now there are plenty of movies out there that I would consider equal to art, so I can’t complain that people don’t care about art because they’d rather see a movie… but there’s also plenty of movies, that I don’t think qualify as art.  


I’m probably preaching to the choir mostly in terms of my readers, but I want to speak to those of you who can identify with our friends who would rather spend money on a movie or a meal than on a dance concert, musical, or theater production, etc.  My guess is that you trust the entertainment value of a movie, but what if you had never seen a movie?  Or what if the first movie you saw, you hated, so you decided you hated all films and vowed never to see one again.  My guess is you’d balk at spending $9-12 (actually, those of us who prefer to spend $6 on movies, may balk at that price anyway) on a movie. You’re thinking “I’ve never seen one of these, don’t see why I should spend any money to sit in a dark room” or maybe you’re thinking “I hate movies, that last movie I saw was horrible, I never want to spend money on that again.”


See what I’m getting at?  Give something you’ve never tried, like seeing a ballet, a chance.  Or if you hated plays when you were a kid, try to see one again… maybe your tastes have changed.  While entertaining is not art’s primary purpose (I believe), the entertainment/enjoyment/appreciation of such is a delightful byproduct of artistic expression.  If you’re searching for entertainment, you have lots of options, and I hope catching some arts enthusiasm is one of them.

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