It keeps coming up. At the Arts Summit a couple of weeks ago. At a workshop I was giving on the weekend. In a committee of the GVPTA that I am involved with.
The world is changing. Are we going to choose to react and adapt, or should we try to take the bull by the horns and make it adapt to us?
I’m referring to the old guard. I was giving a workshop on publicity on the weekend, and one of the participants, who was there to learn about how to promote his theatre company using new media, said that one of his greatest challenges was convincing the board of directors and people who ran the company that new media was the way to go. They have been doing things for so long (“just spend $600 and buy newspaper ads”) a certain way, that they don’t even realize it’s not working any more.
Guess what? It’s not working any more.
The return on your investment of buying an ad in a newspaper is exceedingly low. Even publicity is getting harder and harder to book. In the past year, we have gone, in Vancouver, from having 6 theatre reviewers at newspapers, to, at one point this year, 3. Paul Grant, a 30-year vetran of CBC radio, and a tireless arts reporter, is taking a retirement package at the end of this summer, and his position will not be replaced. Space for the arts is shrinking in the traditional media at an alarming rate.
And, while I think that adapting to this new situation is certainly required, I don’t think that it is the full answer. Yes, we need to educate ourselves and our boards of directors about new media, and yes, we need to pitch our shows to bloggers (or start our own!), and participate in social networking. But, as Simon says, you can’t just graft old media techniques onto the new media.
What we really need to do is to take matters into our own hands and create our own media outlet for the Vancouver arts scene. Yes, I realize that this is a huge task. But I feel like there is a big hole out there, and it needs to be filled. We need a website that is the default go-to site for the Vancouver arts community. And it has to be good–with high quality editorial standards.
I’m not exactly sure how to make this happen, as I’m only one person, and to create something like this is going to take time and resources that are beyond me. But I’m talking to some people right now, and there is power in creating a community of like-minded individuals.
I will certainly keep you in the loop.
Read more about this topic over at the Alliance for Arts and Culture’s blog.