Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Want to Know What Rock Music Michael Kaiser's Been Listening To

Kennedy Center president and one-note high-culture pundit Michael Kaiser called out arts presenters for a lack of imagination yesterday on his Huffington Post blog.

"The embracing of new technologies and the willingness to try new things seem to have become more the province of rock music and movies," says Kaiser. "The classical arts have simply not kept up."

Who's to blame? Administrators, says the guy who founded a school for arts managers.
... groups of people are now more responsible for arts making than the individual. Boards, managers and producing consortia are overly-involved. 
And these groups are misbehaving. They are overly-conservative, subject to "group think" and so worried about budgets that they forget that bad art hurts budgets far more than risk-taking does.
Kaiser tends to repeat the same argument whenever he writes--and it makes a certain amount of intuitive sense. At least for music.

When I read Kaiser's post, I think of the time I noticed that three different orchestras were playing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony in the same month, in the same hall (guess which one?). I also think of all the music I'll never hear live because those orchestras continue to program the same music over and over, season after season.

I'd like to think that our programmers and music directors are doing this because the boards and management they answer to are closed minded. But I also know that it's not that simple. And I know that Kaiser has his own blind spots, as Armondo Bayolo points out on Sequenza21.