A New York nonprofit that helps arts organizations rethink how they operate and develop new ideas, has created a new site that it hopes will become a hub for arts and cultural groups to talk about innovation.
The site, ArtsFwd, was created by the group EmcArts. It features video profiles of arts groups that are experimenting with bold new approaches to their work. In one profile, officials from the Denver Center Theatre Company describe how they developed Off-Center @ The Jones, a nontraditional series designed to attract new and younger patrons with greater audience participation.
Before starting the series in earnest, the organization held three events to test some of its ideas. One of the events, a reading of a play called “An Extraordinary Demonstration of Nikola Tesla’s Most Recent Discoveries,” taught the organization the dangers of incorporating too many technologies into a single performance.
During the reading, the character of Nikola Tesla didn’t appear onstage; audience members instead heard him through headphones. Throughout the performance, the audience also was asked to answer a series of questions via text message, and a tally of the answers appear on a large screen onstage.
“It really taxed our resources,” says Kent Thompson, the theater’s artistic director, in the ArtsFwd video. “We realized that using that many technologies in one performance was maybe financially and human-resource-wise too difficult.”
Recent posts on the ArtsFwd blog include a story about a blog run by teenagers at the Walker Art Center, in Minneapolis, a profile of the technology lab at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and a review of the new book, The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators.
The site also features a monthly podcast on the ways arts groups are dealing with changing audience demographics, the struggle to appeal to younger patrons, and the competition posed by new technology.