Thursday, March 19, 2009

Is It All About the Venue?

Lindly Haunani recently sent me a story.

Watch this video.

Did you notice the protective bubble that seems to exist around the violinist. Even the few who finally stop to listen, keep a "safe" distance away.

The violinist, Joshua Bell. A world class musician. The violin, was worth $3.5 million. He played six beautiful and complex Bach pieces over 45 minutes. Six people stopped and listened for any length of time. About twenty people gave him money, but kept walking.

Just two days earlier, he played a sold out show in Boston. The tickets cost an average of $100. You can image that the audience paid full attention to every piece played.

Same musician. Same instrument. Different setting. And an entirely different response.

It certainly made me think about the many shows I have done when people have walked absent-mindedly through a show. Chatting on the phone, or with a friend. Half looking at the work. At these very shows, there are artists showing work that is worthy of being in a museum....or who have work in a museum.

I have yet to see someone walking through a museum, chatting on their cell phone, and munching on popcorn. Why does one setting invoke respect and focus, and another half-hearted attention? I do not expect people at a craft show,...even a high caliber be looking at the artists and their work with reverence. But, if you do come to see beauty, then why not see the beauty?

It also made me think about how the context in which we sell our work, creates a perception of value. If you sell your work on a bare table in a school gymnasium, don't expect people to value your creative genius. If you put mediocre pictures of your work on your website, don't expect to have anyone see what you see in the work. Sell your work at price that is too low to reflect the work that went into it, and people will look to see what is wrong with the work, to solve the apparent contradiction. Put thought and effort into the design of a piece, and neglect similar attention to the finishing, and don't be surprised that the design is not fully appreciated.

Attention. Attention to where and how is essential to success. Neglect that attention, and you will have an even harder challenge to get your audience to pay attention, appreciate...and buy...your work.


Christine Kane said...

AND - I would add that we, as artists, can be wrong in thinking that someone isn't paying attention. I've been on stage thinking "These people aren't even listening! Look at this!" - only to have the biggest "non-listeners" show up at the cd sales table buying up everything and telling me I opened their hearts in amazing ways! Very strange.

People approach art in the way they need to. Art is unsafe to many folks. For that reason, it's good to allow people their space. (At least in my experience!) That is the beauty of art.

I love this video MOSTLY because it shows how MUCH of what we pay attention to is the marketing of our art. It has nothing to do with whether or not we are "worthy."

Great post!

Art Spectrum said...

Wow, this is a great illustration of perception being everything!
It really makes you think about how and where you present yourself.
I understand artists not wanting to buy into the marketing and selling of their creations. But I personally am getting a little tired of being undervalued and I think I do it to myself. There's nothing wrong with wanting to reap the benefits of your God given talent.
This is definitely something I will be pondering!
Thank you for sharing

Anonymous said...

people who pay $100 dollars to hear beautiful music expect to hear beautifull music. people walking running to catch their train or whatever it is they're doing are hurring to do it, they don't expect to hear a concert violinist and probably arent sophisticated enough to appreciate it anyway.