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Killing Your Audience Members Can Really Keep Them Engage with Your Art

By | June 28, 2017

One of the most common pieces of advice given to new writers is “Kill your darlings.” The Australian writers Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman have turned this advice on its head. They’re not interested in killing their darlings, but they have become very interested in killing their audience.
In 2015, Kaufman and Kristoff published Illuminae, a sci-fi novel they’d spent the past few years working …

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This Program Puts Major Works of Art on the Street. Literally.

By | June 28, 2017

The phone rang in the office of Salvador Salort-Pons, then Curator of European Paintings at the Detroit Institute of Arts. “I found a Van Gogh painting outside the public library, and I don’t want someone to steal it!” said the woman on the other end of the line. “Don’t worry, though, I’ve deployed my husband to protect it.”
Six years later, Salort-Pons is now the Director …

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Audience Engagement Is Not Community Engagement. We Need More of the Latter.

By | June 28, 2017

Engagement is an important word in the nonprofit arts industry, often paired (at a minimum) with arts, audience, and community. Over the last decade, “engagement” has very nearly become worn out. Not too long ago, when “community engagement” was the hot topic in the industry, it was used to mean almost anything anyone thought was a good idea. I once saw an arts organization donate …

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How a Black Panthers Exhibition in Oakland Connected Activism of the Past to an Evolving Present

By | June 27, 2017

When can you really feel arts engagement in your bones? How do you know that you have achieved genuine engagement?
For those of us who work at the Oakland Museum of California, one moment came during our exhibition “All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50,” which was on view at OMCA from October 2016 through February 2017. The realization arrived with a simple …

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Britain’s National Theatre Simulcasts Bring Shakespeare and Shaw Live from the Stage to the Screen

By | June 27, 2017

Since its founding in 1963—with Laurence Olivier as artistic director and Kenneth Tynan as dramaturg (plus a rep company that included new faces Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi, and Lynn Redgrave)—the National Theatre has been one of the jewels in Britain’s cultural crown.
As an American arts journalist living in London, I have always appreciated what a luxury it is to have access to a …

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An Arts Experimenter on Why Galleries Should Be Louder, Full of Med Students—and Open All Night

By | June 27, 2017

Experiment—constantly and fearlessly, every single day.
That’s the best advice I can offer from my own career working in museums to connect the arts to different people, communities, disciplines, and places. The art of arts engagement flows from this recognition: Because the arts connect to so many things, artists and arts organizations need to always be trying new things.
I’ve tried everything from giving museum tours in …

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Social Bridging Helps Museums Build Community Across Difference

By | June 26, 2017

Like many organizations, my museum, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, struggles with two conflicting goals.
The museum should be for everyone in our community.
But it’s impossible to do a great job being for everyone. We’re more successful when we target particular communities or audiences and design experiences for them.
How do you reconcile the desire to be inclusive with the practical imperative to …

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A National Poetry Contest Makes Speaking Verse More Social Than Solitary

By | June 23, 2017

Last year, approximately 365,000 high school students participated in Poetry Out Loud—memorizing and reciting poems in organized competitions held across all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. By almost any standard, Poetry Out Loud constitutes a huge success in a period when cultural success stories seem rare.
In retrospect, successful ventures often seem inevitable. But it …

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A “Grand Tour” Through the Pyrenees Connects Artists and Audiences on a Cultural Pilgrimage

By | June 22, 2017

It must not be imagined that a walking tour, as some would have us fancy, is merely a better or worse way of seeing the country. There are many ways of seeing landscape quite as good; and none more vivid, in spite of canting dilettantes, than from a railway train. But landscape on a walking tour is quite accessory. He who is indeed of the …

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Why Marijuana Needs Middlemen to Reach the Mainstream Market

By | June 21, 2017

California’s marijuana industry will soon begin its transition from an illicit ecosystem fraught with guns, cash, and cartels into a regulated economic juggernaut.
The stakes of getting it right are high. Not only will the industry produce an expected $1 billion in annual tax dollars for youth drug prevention, restoration of the environment, and enforcement against the black market, but legal marijuana will influence the …

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