At the core of the resulting transformation was a change of focus away from the traditional orientation of arts presenting organizations (particularly, but not exclusively, “classical” music groups), which might be expressed, “this is what we have to offer; won’t you come and see it?” This is the entrepreneurial equivalent of inventing a new widget without consideration of the marketplace and then hoping one can convince the public to buy it; when such an approach is undertaken in a commercial venue, the new widget is not likely to be a success. Yet this is the approach that the traditional fine arts have taken with their products for the better share of the last 150 years, justifying their stance by arguing that appreciating offerings of so-called “high culture” is part and parcel of membership in a civilized society. To put it bluntly and in market terms: “you should want to buy this. [Now eat your peas!]” When applied to an art form that is likely to have a smaller audience to begin with – such as contemporary chamber music – this attitude guarantees what is the accepted norm for such groups: tiny audiences, shoe-string financial survival, and an existence on the periphery of the larger cultural landscape. ... Bringing an understanding of the audience’s relationship to the artistic product to the beginning of the problem-solving process, instead of leaving it on the sidelines, is a critical concept for artists and administrators to embrace.
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