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Opera is New

The first opera I ever saw was Carmen at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion during a dress rehearsal.  I went with hoity-toity charlatans who told me repeatedly that this was a ‘good introductory opera’ with an air of disgust for my lack of exposure to the art form.  Now, I hate that opera and everything it personally stood for (not to mention if I hear the music in another commercial I might just take up arms).  I digress, opera is meant to be shared, explored, and enjoyed with a company of feelers rather than judgers.  My first experience was less than extraordinary; yes, Milena Kitic was stunning, and yes, the spectacle was more than I imagined; but the taint of others is still palpable.

Since then, I have been to many operas during their actual runs, and enjoyed some more than others.  What sticks in my craw; however, is the lack of diversity of the audience.  As a college student who received free tickets through a generous donation to my university, my ‘kind’ was outnumbered.  The audience was a veritable sea of pink and purple hair (if you don’t know what that means, it’s the color of elder women’s hair).

The last opera I went to was over two years ago, when I was still in LA.  This time I was with a friend at Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, a far cry from Carmen.  It was exquisite.  Thus was the end of my opera going days, with Opera Pacific shuttered and difficulty in affording a ticket to the LA Opera.

My path back to the opera took an unexpected turn this weekend in the most unusual of venues with the most unusual of audiences seeing one of the greatest operas ever written.  Opera in the Outfield at National’s Stadium streamed the live performance of Don Giovanni from WNO‘s performance at the Kennedy Center.  The crowd assembled was massive, the entire outfield covered in blankets and the sweater-clad.  Up into the stadium near half the lower level was filled with people of all ages and creeds.  Children were running around or like the little one next to me, positing questions about the show to his parents.  The entire audience on a whole was a good 30-40 years or so younger on average than the crowd inside the Kennedy Center.  For once, my age group was the majority.

We were free to talk and comment, free to check our phones for everything from the score of the Orioles/Red Sox game to information on the opera itself, free to eat M&M’s and drink coffee, free to sit wherever we pleased, and free to enjoy the way we wanted to enjoy.  I didn’t have to pay for a ticket (although I would have happily paid up to $20 – it was chilly, outside, and the seats weren’t super comfy).  I’m sure thousands of others (for indeed, it was in the thousands) who attended would have paid as well; but we were not asked, nor were we solicited for donations.  Instead, we were simply expected to see and hear.

WNO brought the opera to the masses, in an old custom akin to the Opera Buffa days of Mozart.  People still love opera.  The current problem is the delivery system, but by focusing on social aspects rather than financial and puritanical artistic facets, opera succeeds.

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Broadcasting: What the Arts Can Learn from Professional Sports

a research study by Steven Dawson

“Why do sports and the arts have to be in completely different categories?”  That was the question that a fellow classmate asked a few months ago.  It seems true that arts and sports reside in opposite sides of our minds, but do they actually share similarities?  The arts have notoriously struggled as a whole to bring in revenue, a skill that sports leagues have seemed to perfect.  What can the arts learn from sports and its strategies?  I will address this question by looking at sports broadcasting and relating how it would work with the arts.

First, let’s take a look at the differences between the arts and sports.  On the surface, it is obvious that the arts are performed or created while sports are played.  The first organized sport, Ullamaliztli, was thought to have been created by the ancient Olmec civilization[1], which was formed around 1200 B.C.[2]  The arts, however, can be traced back even further.  While it was previously held that the oldest paintings were around 35,000 years old, archeologists have found pigments and paint-making equipment that dates back to between 350,000 and 400,000 years old.[3]  The first record of performing arts, however—which I believe is a little more relevant to the comparison here—, was not until 2000 B.C. with the Ancient Egyptian passion plays for the king-divinity Osiris.[4]  Either way, the organized arts were around for centuries before organized sports.

Another difference is in the attendance.  Because of scarcity of events, sports stadiums are built to hold as many patrons as safely (and sometimes unsafely) as possible.  The largest stadium in the world is the 150,000 seat Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, and the largest stadium in the United States is the 107,501 seat Michigan Stadium—more commonly known as “The Big House”—in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  The largest non-stadium sports facility in the world is the 257,325 seat Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana.[5]  The arts, however, have relatively much smaller crowds.  The largest performing arts specific venue in the United States is the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, NY, which seats 3,975.[6]  The scheduling is also much different between the two.  A play or musical may have up to eight performances per week, while sports events are much less frequent.  Racing and football, for example, typically occur once per week, and in the case of football, only from August through February.  Hockey and Basketball are a little more frequent, but even then, one may only see two or three games a week.  Baseball is the only truly comparable sport to the arts, having 162 games spread out over seven months.  The arts do have off days, or even off weeks, but they are also usually scheduled to spread evenly throughout the entire year.

One other main difference between the arts and sports is fan passion.  Take a walk in downtown Washington, D.C. and you will only need about 60 seconds before you see a shirt, hat, or jacket with a Nationals, Wizards, Capitals, or Redskins logo on it.  Memorabilia is worn by millions of fans everywhere.  Sports fans also develop a love and a hatred for different teams, depending on location and rivalry, even to the point of fighting, as was the case in Los Angeles in April of 2011.[7]  One of the most heated rivalries in American sports is the New York Yankees – Boston Red Sox rivalry.  You rarely, however, hear about subscribers of the Metropolitan Opera scuffling in an ally with subscribers of Opera Boston.  There exists is a mutual respect in partaking in the arts, even if you believe your city’s organization is better than another’s.  However, respect for actions is a different story.  Sitting in your jeans and T-shirt while munching on a Snickers bar and popcorn at the opera will no doubt earn sharp glares from fellow patrons, but doing the same at a baseball game seems commonplace.  Comfort is far more associated with sports than the arts.

“Plot Highlights” is also a subject in which the two differ.  Any given night, a person can turn on their television or open their newspaper, and find out what happened during the game, but that cannot work with the arts for two reasons.  One is that it is impossible to share what happened in some art forms, like music, the technique of dance, and visual art, unless a writer gets as specific as to say “then the trombone played a B flat.”  The second is that sharing the plot is essentially ruining the story for the next patrons.  No one likes it when a friend spoils the plot to a movie or book, and the same applies in this situation.  The closest equivalent to sports highlights in arts journalism is the review.  But even these are too narrow, speaking mostly to an already established arts community in the know.  Additionally, reviewers tend to make their living, with a few exceptions, on providing bad reviews.  A person with no knowledge of an art form would not be any closer to buying a ticket after reading these reviews.

One last difference is public access.  Sports teams often share pictures, videos, and articles about training camps, practices, and pre-game preparations.  For example, on April 26-28, the National Football League (NFL) held its annual draft, in which the top college players are drafted by the individual teams.  In preparation, the NFL has a combine, attended by every team, at which players show their physical and mental skills. At the draft, on camera analysts discuss player evaluations and performances and debate which team will pick which player.[8]  The public is invited to watch this “behind the scenes” process with open access.  Other leagues have similar processes.  This is also very similar to auditions, in which performers show their talents as best they can and are chosen by the individual companies for their services.  Auditions, however—as well as the rest of the entire production process in general—, are kept closed from the public.  The only part made available to the public is the actual performance, with a rare exception of a paid preview.  But even then, the “access” is not free.  Companies are beginning to post casting announcements online immediately after decisions are made, but that is where the access stops.  Many of these differences are intrinsic to the field and cannot be changed, but some can indeed be changed to provide a sense of access and connection for audiences.

Even though there are many differences between the two, there are also many similarities.  First, there is the recognition and presence of talent.  In both arts and sports, there are different levels of talent, and audiences can pick up on it.  Both can also be engaged in from a young age, and many times are.  My childhood memories are littered with thoughts of little league baseball and soccer as well as church plays and children’s choir. Competitions are also a common theme in both the arts and sports.  Obviously, sports by nature are competition, but there also exist vocal competitions, literary competitions, one-act play competitions, and show choir competitions.  Even the Tony Awards and the Grammys are a form of competition.  The largest similarity that strikes me, though, is that both fields are a cultural recreational activity from which people find enjoyment and are many times willing to pay for.  It is these similarities that cause me to think the arts can learn from sports.

But why should we use strategies used by sports teams and leagues in the arts?  The answer is simple. Money.  Any organization, whether sports team, theater, dance company, bank, or manufacturer, needs money to operate, and arts organizations have been trying to figure out how to fill their coffers for centuries. It seems that for the most part, sports teams and their leagues have figured out an effective income system.  For the sake of proof, let’s take a look at a few examples:

In 2008 (the latest year I could find), the 32 teams in Major League Baseball (MLB) combined for a league-wide revenue of $5.8 billion, with the highest earning team, the New York Yankees, earning $375 million and the lowest earning team, the Florida Marlins, earning $139 million.  Granted, that is a large difference in income.  But, when your “least successful” team still makes $139 million, you are in good shape.  The MLB does have a revenue sharing strategy, though, in which the most financially successful teams share extra funds with those teams that are in disadvantaged markets.  Also, when expenses are calculated, the league-wide average profit is $16.7 million per team, with only two teams reporting losses.[9]

In the same year, the 32 teams in the NFL—which has been set up to reduce the differences in the “haves” and the “have-nots”—combined for a league-wide revenue of $7.6 billion, with the highest earning team, the Washington Redskins, bringing in $345 million and the lowest earning team, the Detroit Lions, earning $208 million. After expenses, the league-wide average profit is $32.3 million per team, with again only two teams reporting losses.[10]  It should be noted, though, that the two profit losing teams from the MLB are in different cities than the two profit losing teams in the NFL, so location is not necessarily the driving factor.  The trend has continued to rise, as well.  This last year, the league-wide revenue was up 10% from 2008 to $8.3 billion, and the average team profit was steady at $30 million net profit.[11]

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL), widely considered as the third and fourth biggest sports, respectively, in the United States, also earn a large amount of revenue as a league.  However, these leagues have poor business models and many teams in each league lose money every year.  The largest contributing factors are unbalanced player salaries and an ever widening gap between the large market teams and the small market teams.[12] [13]  For this reason, I do not believe it is wise to take revenue strategies from the NBA and the NHL.

So, what revenue strategies can the arts learn from the MLB and the NFL?  There are a few “not-so-savory” charges that some teams slap on their patrons, such as the Personal Seat License, in which the team makes a person pay a very large fee (upwards of $15,000 in some cases) for the right—and only the right, not the actual ticket—to buy a season ticket.  We will stay away from these strategies and focus on those that will not cause our patrons to throw our brochures back in our faces.  The biggest money making strategy that these teams and leagues use is television.  Granted, these for-profit sports teams use television for profit purposes only, and not to necessarily gain audience members, still the effect of growing patronage is achieved.  Once again, let’s take a look at the MLB and NFL for proof that proper use of broadcasts can grow an audience base.

Until 1982, MLB teams were mostly covered by local radio and occasionally local television contracts.  There was also a “game of the week” that would air nationally.  In 1982, national broadcast contracts totaled $53 million, which, relative to today’s contracts, is petty cash.  In stadium attendance that year was 44,588,873 (see figure 1).  In 1984, MLB got television studios to raise their investment in the games three-fold to a tune of $163 million, and again each year until national television contracts for games amounted to $246.5 million.  The increased exposure had an almost immediate impact on in game attendance.  Attendance jumped from 44,588,873 in 1982 to 54,946,096 in 1989.  That is a 23% increase in ticket sales over only 7 years.  In 1990, MLB built on this success and quintupled its national television contracts to $1.46 billion per year, and by 1993, the audience attendance had risen to 70,256,459.  That is another 28% increase in only 4 years.[14] [15]

1994 and 1995 prove the correlation between television and attendance.  The MLB Players’ Association called a strike in 1994, which cut the season off half-way through, and continued the strike until April 25, 1995.[16]  Television contracts for 1995 suffered, dropping back to 1989 levels ($255 million), and along with them—I’m sure from a combination of fan anger over the strike along with less TV coverage—dropped attendance, down 28% to 50,464,375.  The very next year, however, MLB national television contracts got back on track with deals reaching $1.57 billion per year, and by 2000, attendance had bounced back and even grown to 72,748,970.  It should be noted that in that time, 2 expansion teams were added to the league, which could skew the numbers.  So, to ensure statistical accuracy, we will look at per team averages during this time.  In 1995, the 28 team average yearly attendance was 1.8 million fans.  But by 2000, the 30 team average yearly attendance had grown to 2.4 million fans, a 33% increase.[17] [18]

Another interesting note is that it seems the MLB has reached the end of the bell-curve in terms of effectiveness of television contracts on growing fan attendance.  Since 2000, the national television contracts have over doubled ($3.35 billion per year), but audience attendance has only grown 8% (5,765,888 more total tickets) to a 30 team average of 2.6 million fans in 2008 (78,514,848 total). [19] [20]  This suggests that there is a threshold of effectiveness at which the amount of money spent on broadcasting no longer efficiently boosts attendance.  As I stated before, though, sports leagues do not necessarily have television contracts to boost audience attendance as much as to boost income, which could still be achieved with effective advertisement sales.

Figure 1:                    Note: Gaps in data are due to work stoppages, strikes, or lack of data.

The NFL also saw a direct correlation between investment in television contracts and in game attendance.  Since the number of teams changed from 16 to 26 with the NFL-AFL merger in 1970,[21] and the number of regular season games increased from 14 to 16 in 1977, adjusting numbers to take these changes into account will prove to be quite complicated for the purposes of this paper.  In addition, the real changes in television contracts came after the merger, so I will begin by looking at the 1978 contract changes (see figure 2).  In 1977, the NFL had a $54.1 million national television contract, and—sticking with per team averages to ensure accuracy—the 28 team average attendance was 368,059.  The next year, television contracts were increased almost three-fold to $161.7 million, and immediately attendance rose to a 28 team average of 430,968. [22] [23]

Similar results continue throughout the decades[24] [25], but in an attempt to keep this from becoming too dense, I will skip forward to the 1998 national television contract changes.  In 1997, the NFL reached all time highs in contracts and attendance, with an annual television contract total of $1.1 billion and a 30 team average attendance of 488,472.  In 1998, contracts were increased to $2.2 billion per year until 2005.  The results of this change are astounding.  By 2005, the yearly attendance for the entire league had grown by 2.54 million fans, and the 2005 32 team average yearly attendance was 537,510.[26]  The important point to remember is that in game income is not only earned at the gate.  Fans also purchase food, drinks, memorabilia, programs, and other in stadium items.  In 2005, the NFL fan cost index, which includes all items a fan might purchase at a game, the ticket (average of all ticket levels), fees, and parking, come out to a league average of $329.82 per fan, and had reached $396.36 per fan by 2008.[27]

Figure 2:                   Note: Gaps in data are due to work stoppages, strikes, or lack of data

Again, I will reiterate the point that the television contracts for each league were designed with commercial advertisement revenue in mind, and not necessarily with fan attendance in mind, but the effect of growing audience bases was achieved through increased television exposure.  I have two theories, which are interconnected, for why this happened.  (Unfortunately, they will remain theories, because the only way to prove them would be to individually survey each fan to find out why they attended games).  One theory is that national exposure allows the fans to see the superstars from the other teams.  For example in 1998, only three years after the strike that alienated a multitude of fans, the season that included the infamous Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire home run race was dubbed “the season that saved baseball.”[28]  The national exposure allowed baseball fans from across the nation to forget their anger and tune in every day to see if either player, or both, could break Roger Maris’s home run record.  I remember turning on the news or ESPN every evening to see what the next chapter in the Sosa-McGwire race held.  My high school friends would brag that they got tickets to the games when either of the two stars’ teams (McGwire – St. Louis Cardinals, Sosa – Chicago Cubs) made their way to Atlanta.  It created a frenzy, even among fans from other teams.  By the end of 1998, McGwire had belted 70 home runs—easily braking Maris’s mark of 61—,Sosa had smacked 66, and fans were again excited to attend baseball games.  Another example is Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the NFL.  These superstars, and especially the rivalry between them, transcended the game and created a buzz throughout the sport.  Much like McGwire and Sosa, these individuals attracted many fans who simply wanted to see legends play live.

The second interconnected theory is that the exposure leads to a tighter connection with fans.  When a fan watches their team play every week, or every day in MLB’s case, they begin to form a sort of virtual relationship with the players and coaches.  I refer to my own experience with this theory.  In 1995, the Atlanta Braves baseball team brought up a young, talented rookie by the name of Larry “Chipper” Jones to play third base.  That year, he won the hearts of many Braves’ fans by hitting 23 home runs and contributing to a World Series title.  19 years later, Jones has broken many Braves records, established himself as one of the greatest switch hitters to ever play, and solidified himself as a lock for the Baseball Hall of Fame.  I, however, have not lived in Georgia since 2005, but in my travels, I have been able to continue to watch Jones play because of national coverage.  And since this is his final year, I will be sure to purchase a ticket to a Washington Nationals game whenever the Braves come to town.

If sports teams and leagues can boost attendance by increasing national broadcasting and using stars to increase the brand image, it seems obvious that the arts can do the same.  Arts organizations already use names to sell tickets, such as Brian Stokes Mitchell at Strathmore[29] and Constantine Maroulis at the Kennedy Center[30], but very rarely are these names paired with a national broadcast.  There are a few organizations across the world, such as the Metropolitan Opera, The National Theatre in London, the Bolshoi Ballet, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, that have begun to broadcast their performances live in certain venues.[31]  The Metropolitan Opera pioneered the use of live broadcasts into movie theaters, and we will focus on their numbers since this program was initiated to see if the strategy is effective.

In 2000, the Metropolitan Opera was booming, with performances selling at 93% capacity.  But as the decade progressed, box office sales began to slow, and by 2006, sales had dropped to 79% capacity.  It should be noted that box office income had actually risen by 2006, but that was because the Met raised ticket prices, leading to a false sense of growth.[32]  That year, the company began an innovative new program called Live in HD, in which selected performances were simulcast into a number of movie theaters for a paying audience to enjoy live, but at much cheaper prices than attending the Met.  Met Opera stars served as hosts, and audiences got a unique view of the performances.  That year, the Met offered 6 transmissions to 248 movie theaters in 8 countries, and the total attendance reached 325,000 (see figure 3).  The next season, 8 transmissions were broadcast to 632 theaters in 19 countries, and attendance rose to 935,000.  Over the next few years, the program grew in number of transmission as well as the number of theaters broadcast to, and by the end of the 2010-2011 season, the Live in HD series had 12 transmissions to 1,500 theaters in 47 countries, attracting over 2.6 million viewers.  Just to put that into perspective, approximately 800,000 people attended performances in the Metropolitan Opera House that season.[33]  This year is looking even more successful.  This season’s October transmission of Don Giovanni reached 216,000 people worldwide in one broadcast, and 50,000 more in delayed showings in Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and in “encore” broadcasts in North America and Europe.  Once again for perspective, the entire run of the opera at the Metropolitan Opera House, if completely sold out, would only reach a total audience of 68,000.[34]  This year, the Met will reach 1,700 theaters in 54 countries with 11 transmissions, and current attendance estimates show that attendance will reach approximately 2.95 million people.[35]  Just recently, the Live in HD program sold its 10 millionth ticket, making a strong statement that broadcasting the arts can be a successful venture.[36]

Figure 3:   

The interesting thing about the Live in HD series is that it provides a unique experience for the audience.  You can attend a performance in the opera house, and experience the amazing booming voices and orchestra, marvel at the sets, and get caught up in the emotion of the opera.  Or, you can attend a transmission in a movie theatre and experience amazing cinematography and high definition close-ups of the action, all the while slouching in your jeans and t-shirt while munching on popcorn, and still experiencing the “flow” of the opera.[37]  Neither one detracts from the other because neither one can provide what the other gives.  It is exactly like attending a sporting event.  You can sit at home in front of your big screen television and watch high definition coverage of the action with close-ups, graphics, and commentators, or you can attend the live event and experience the thrill and emotion of live sports.  The experiences are so different.

The prevailing thought in the market is that when you offer a less expensive alternative to your current product, people will leave the more expensive one for that less expensive one.  That has not been the case with the Live in HD performances, however.  In fact the reverse is true.  Since the start of the Live in HD program in 2006, in house attendance at the Metropolitan Opera has grown each year, and as of 2009, had risen to 88% capacity.[38] (see figure 4).

Figure 4:

The same effect can also be seen throughout the entire opera community in the United States.  A 2008 Schugoll Research analysis showed that almost one-quarter (23%) of Live in HD attendees had never seen opera before, even in their own local area.  Also, 30% of participants who had not attended opera in the last 2 years, including those who had never been and those who had, but not recently, and 75% of all participants, regardless of amount of attendance, stated that they were “very likely” to attend opera in the future.[39]  This suggests that even though the Live in HD prices are much cheaper than live opera, the transmissions do not deter live attendance, and in fact they seem to reinvigorate people’s love for the art form.  More recent data also confirms this.  The National Endowment for the Arts reports that from 1982 – 2008, attendance for opera, as well as many other art forms, had been in a steady decline.[40]  Opera America confirms this by stating that opera attendance in 2002 was 6.6 million[41], but attendance had fallen to 4.8 million by the end of 2008.[42]  However, right along the same timeline as the growth of Live in HD, Opera America reported that opera attendance in the 2009-2010 season had grown again to 6.7 million people.[43]  These statistics suggest that the relatively inexpensive access that the Live in HD series provides the public serves as a catalyst for a “trickle-down effect” to other local opera organizations.  People attend a Live in HD transmission, become excited about opera again or for the first time, and in turn patronize their local opera organization.  A win-win for all.

It seems that, while sports and arts occupy very different spaces in the minds of many of the American public, the arts would be smart to follow the lead of the MLB and NFL.  By making proper use of broadcast technology, entities can grow their audience base as well as the audience base for their art form in general.  Other larger organizations are beginning to follow suit in slightly altered versions, like the Dallas Opera’s April 28th simulcast of The Magic Flute in Cowboys Stadium.[44]  I believe that the same effect can be achieved in dance and theatre as well. The interesting question is whether small to midsize organizations can achieve the same results with this strategy, or if it is reserved for those organizations that have a name reputation.  Since I could find no record of smaller organizations attempting a simulcast, that question will have to be answered by the first one brave enough to dive in.  But as in all research and strategy, the only way to map uncharted territory is to take a breath and enter it.

Notation:

[1] “Aztec Ball Game,” Aztec-History.com, accessed April 24, 2012, http://www.aztec-history.com/aztec-ball-game.html.

[2] “Olmec,” Oracle ThinkQuest Education Foundation, accessed April 24, 2012, http://library.thinkquest.org/18778/olmec.htm.

[3] “Earliest Evidence of Art Found,” BBC News, May 2, 2000, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/733747.stm.

[4] “Egyptian ‘Passion’ Plays,” Theatre History.com, accessed April 24, 2012, http://www.theatrehistory.com/origins/egypt001.html.

[5] “The World’s Largest Sporting Venues,” Stadium Atlas, accessed April 25, 2012, http://www.stadiumatlas.com/the-worlds-largest-sporting-venues/.

[6] “FAQ’s: The Opera House,” The Metropolitan Opera, accessed April 25, 2012, http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/about/aboutus_template.aspx?id=10046.

[7] Jaxon Van Derbeken, “Giants Fan Critically Beaten by Dodgers Fans,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 2, 2011, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/04/01/BAM31IONA2.DTL.

[8] “2012 Draft,” NFL.com, accessed April 25, 2012, http://www.nfl.com/draft/2012.

[9] “Major League Baseball Income and Expenses, 2008,” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages, accessed April 19, 2012, http://www.rodneyfort.com/SportsData/BizFrame.htm.

[10] “National Football League Income and Expenses, 2008,” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages, accessed April 19, 2012, http://www.rodneyfort.com/SportsData/BizFrame.htm.

[11] “NFL Team Values, The Business of Football,” Forbes, accessed April 21, 2012, http://www.forbes.com/lists/2011/30/nfl-valuations-11_rank.html.

[12] Ailene Voisin, “Voisen: NBA Must Fix Broken Business Model,” ScrippsNews, July 1, 2011, http://scrippsnews.com/content/voisin-nba-must-fix-broken-business-model.

[13] Kevin Maney, “Amid Cancelled Season, NHL Faces Financial Meltdown,” USA Today, March 20, 2005, http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/nhl/2005-03-20-nhl-financial-trouble_x.htm.

[14] “Major League Baseball Attendance, 1890-2009,” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages, accessed April 19, 2012, http://www.rodneyfort.com/SportsData/BizFrame.htm.

[15] “Major League Baseball TV Revenues, MLB’s National TV Contracts,” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages, accessed April 20, 2012, http://www.rodneyfort.com/SportsData/BizFrame.htm.

[16] Associated Press, “1994 Strike was a Low Point for Baseball,” ESPN.com, updated August 10, 2004, http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=1856626.

[17] “Major League Baseball Attendance, 1890-2009.”

[18] “Major League Baseball TV Revenues, MLB’s National TV Contracts.”

[19]  Ibid.

[20] “Major League Baseball Attendance, 1890-2009.”

[21] Ken Rappaport, “The AFL – NFL Merger was Almost Booted…by a Kicker,” NFL.com, accessed April, 26, 2012, http://www.nfl.com/news/story?id=09000d5d81206b90&template=without-video-with-comments&confirm=true .

[22] “National Football League Attendance, All Teams All Years,” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages, accessed April 20, 2012, http://www.rodneyfort.com/SportsData/BizFrame.htm.

[23] “National Football League TV Revenues, 1960-2013,” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages, accessed April 20, 2012, http://www.rodneyfort.com/SportsData/BizFrame.htm.

[24]  Ibid.

[25] “National Football League Attendance, All Teams All Years.”

[26]  Ibid.

[27] “National Football League Fan Cost Index, 1991-2008,” Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages, accessed April 22, 2012, http://www.rodneyfort.com/SportsData/BizFrame.htm.

[28] Joel Roza, “McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, and MLB Steroid Generation – Saviors, Villains, or Both?”, Caller.com, April 11, 2011, http://www.caller.com/news/2011/apr/11/mcgwire-sosa-bonds-and-mlb-steroid-generation-savi/?print=1.

[29] “Events & Tickets – Calendar,” Strathmore, accessed April 26, 2012, http://www.strathmore.org/eventstickets/calendar/view.asp?id=7193.

[30] “Jekyll & Hyde,” The Kennedy Center, accessed May 3,2012, http://www.kennedy-center.org/events/?event=TNTSH.

[31] Zachary Woolfe, “I’m Ready for my Close-up, Mr. Puccini,” New York Times, April 27, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/arts/music/the-mets-hd-broadcasts-are-changing-opera.html?_r=3&pagewanted=1&emc=eta1.

[32] The Metropolitan Opera, “Annual Reports 2007-08 and 2008-09,” accessed April 28, 2012, 26.

[33] Lee Abrahamian, The Met: Live in HD Press/Fact Sheet, updated April 25, 2012, 3.

[34] Woolfe, “I’m Ready for my Close-up, Mr. Puccini.”

[35] Abrahamian, The Met: Live in HD Press/Fact Sheet, 3.

[36] Associated Press, “Met ‘Live in HD’ Landmark: 10 Million Tickets Sold,” The Washington Times, April 15, 2012, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/apr/15/met-live-in-hd-landmark-10-million-tickets-sold/

[37] Tom Teicholz, “Culture with a Side of Popcorn,” Huffington Post, April 20, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-teicholz/culture-with-a-side-of-popcorn_b_1439246.html?ref=email_share

[38] The Metropolitan Opera, “Annual Reports 2007-08 and 2008-09,” 26.

[39] Schugoll Research, “The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD: Who Attends and Why?”, Opera America, Fall 2008, 43, http://www.operaamerica.org/content/research/Met%20HD%20Article.pdf.

[40] Sally Gifford, “National Endowment for the Arts Announces Highlights from 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts,” National Endowment for the Arts, June 15, 2009, http://www.nea.gov/news/news09/SPPA-highlights.html.

[41] “Quick Opera Facts 2007,” Opera America, accessed May 1, 2012, http://www.operaamerica.org/content/research/quick.aspx.

[42] “Quick Opera Facts 2008-2009,” Opera America, accessed May 1, 2012, http://www.operaamerica.org/content/research/quick0809.aspx.

[43] “Quick Opera Facts 2010-2011,” Opera America, accessed May 1, 2012, http://www.operaamerica.org/content/research/quick1011.aspx.

[44] “Dallas Opera Breaks World Record For Simulcast by the Dallas Foundation,” Broadway World.com, Dallas, April 18, 2012, http://dallas.broadwayworld.com/article/Dallas-Opera-Breaks-World-Record-For-Simulcast-by-the-Dallas-Foundation-20120418.

 

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National Council on the Arts: RECAP

So just got back from the National Council on the Arts public meeting. Though a little long  it was CHOCK FULL of inspiration. Some pretty incredible individuals got a chance to speak about themselves, the work they do, and most importantly, what inspires them.

Watch it HERE (skip to about 5:39 to get past the “please stand-by” part, you’ll know you’re there when you see Rocco in his red St. Louis hat).

After the swearing in of the fabulous Aaron Dworkin, NEA’s fearless leader, Rocco Landesman, shared about his travels across the world from his Art Works Tour. Be sure to check out his reflections on his trip to Alaska and Australia, really fascinating discoveries on the power of indigenous art, the importance of creative peacemaking, and the exploration of how “art works” so differently across the country and the world. He spoke of how across his travels he found in so many places where this incredible intersect of arts and daily life takes place for the benefit of all.

The Arts Journalism Initiative was discussed by the council, a relatively new initiative by the NEA and Knight Foundation that seeks to address the problems with declining arts coverage and the decline of professional arts journalists in favor using regular staff.  Landesman identified fives types of arts coverage that the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge addresses:

  • Factual information about arts
  • Casual discourse
  • News coverage and investigative reporting
  • Criticism within historic and current context
  • Academic writing

It was found that increasingly arts organizations are making the push to distribute factual information about their arts events themselves removing the need for journalistic contribution and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have created a platform for casual discourse between fans (of which Opera fans are apparently the most vocarious ) allowing for discussion and personal analysis of the work. Academic writing has soared with more MFAs and PhDs in art and art history than ever. But what was missing was the initiative to support local arts coverage that is both accessible and professional.

Landesman pointed out that for the arts to flourish, arts criticism must be active. After all, “if art happens and no one covered it, does it have impact?”

The winning project ideas shared two common solutions of the problem of lagging art journalism: crowd sourcing and community creativity. This cute video summarizes the winning ideas:

Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge Finalists from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

If you can’t/don’t want to check out the video now check out my quickly tapped out iPhone notes summary:

  1. Charlotte, NC: Charlotte arts alliance to train journalists and provide coverage content free for alliance outlets. Keep it all in single online place
  2. Detroit, MI: Lack of dialogue interactive mobile video booth iCritic record video reviews as they leave event. Reviews instantly available
  3. Miami, FL: arts spot Miami, crowd financing journalist pitch ideas to public. Winning ideas will be funded. Engaging public to select
  4. Philadelphia, PA: Drexel embed arts journalists into Daily News, partnerships, curate stories from both editorial teams. Leveraging existing resources
  5. San Jose, CA: Tech economy. Encourage better understanding using map based technology app plan will enable interactions with arts venues via map. Analyze to understand people’s understanding

Funding will be given to these winning ideas to develop “action plans” which will detail how exactly each idea will be launched, sustained and maintained. The winning action plan will receive $80,000 in implementation funding. The council asked questions two of which I found most applicable and fascinating.

The first concerned sustainability: will these projects be sustainable after the one time grant? The second, professionalism: some of the projects seem as if they may fail to elevate the arts journalism medium and instead provide a tool for  magnification of what discourse is already occurring on Internet.

It’ll be interesting into see how the action plans incorporate ideas for sustainability; many are addressing the needs for creating new types of revenue such has crowd sourcing.
As for the citizen journalist vs professional writer: many conversations that make sure of social media will be curated by professionals who through guiding the conversation and selecting the shows/areas in which they bring participation ensuring an increased level of professionalism. In the case of arts journalism it seems the difficultly is increasingly how to  determine whose voice will be heard and if all voices worth of being heard. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but are some more valid than others?

The Opera Panel and Research presentation were incredible. Favorite quotes include: “If you’re embarrassed by emotion you won’t like opera” and “to love the opera, you cannot be afraid of passion.” I suggest to watch the webcast for the truly interesting discussion between opera panelists and check out the Art Works blog and press release  for some great content about Artists in the Workforce.

The session concluded with a talk by dynamic couple: FloydFest producer, Kris Hodges and director, Erika Johnson. These two were dynamite and I was disappointed the Chairman had to leave to catch a flight before they made their presentation.

Have a little listen of the this past 2011 Floydfest lineup HERE.

Hodges and Johnson took turns describing the unique aspects of creativity and community that has made the festival such a success these past 10 years. While they weren’t shy sharing about the trails, tribulations and debt they struggled with to keep the festival running, one couldn’t help but be inspired by their pride in their community and desire to share the incredible Floydfest experience with everyone.

Born out of a combination of  “teamwork and dreamwork” (sounds familiar to anyone whose worked in the arts) and working with the ingredients on hand, Floydfest developed out of the natural and creative fertility of the land and people in the community. Hodges talked about being attracted to the “spirit of the community of creative thinkers and doers” where a pre-existing (and surprising) alchemy of tradition and open-mindedness allowed for a rich platform on which the festival could develop.

The environment of a self-sustaining community and place of pride meant Floydfest receives a lot of local support from organic markets (the couple started their own organic restaurant pre-Floydfest which they sold in order to keep the festival going) and has remained an event where authenticity, quality and sincerity are valued above all (nice-huh? Sincerity and the arts, nearly forgot about it). Despite getting some big name headliners, Hodges and Johnson say they treat all musicians in their line-up the same, as “fiercely independent artists looking to cultivate their art.”

It was nice to be reminded that “arts will exist even if there is no money behind it” because, after all, “people [ultimately] want to make art”, and will make often even without a financial goal in mind. This is what makes arts funding so tricky. Our organizations need the money, yet to make art is so basic and human, that no matter how much you cut our funding, the arts will never be quelled.

Check out a great video of the 2011 festival here and let me know if anyone wants to road trip from DC for Floydfest 2012:

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