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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mass Intelligence

I'm sure nearly every orchestra goes through a bit of handwringing around this time of year as details for the next year's concert season coalesce. Schedules must be worked out for conductors and soloists, programming choices made, pricing charts, sales projections and budgets are poured over; in the end, every orchestra tries to strike that balance between the artistic and the economic considerations. It's a delicate balance - of course, everyone would be thrilled to see every concert sell out, but there are also those who would love to do a Stockhausen festival, which, in many markets, would not cover its own costs, whether it's artistically brilliant or not.

And so, as sales reports for pops concerts and new music concerts and Beethoven's 5th and christmas concerts and kids concerts are sifted and compared, inevitably we begin to seek out where our culture is heading, and what they want from their local arts organizations (and what they will buy). All this to say, I read a pretty interesting article from Intelligent Life magazine entitled The Age of Mass Intelligence which postulates that, in spite of the general bemoaning of the dumbing down of society, more people than ever are taking in arts and culture (yes, even ordinary people). Of course, I've also just started reading Mark Bauerlein's book "The Dumbest Generation" which will provide an interesting counterpoint, I'm sure.


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