Arts Club's audience-engagement push a sign of the times
In this economic climate, performing-arts companies are aggressively pursuing new ways to engage audiences. That's why you see things like the speaker's panels before Vancouver Opera events, and talk-backs at almost every dance performance.
The desperate attempt to engage audiences has also flooded new media, with groups like Ballet B.C. coaxing people to Tweet at intermission and events like the Neanderthal Festival even setting aside space for during-the-show Twitter and blogging. Nope: these audience members don't have to turn off their electronic devices for the duration of the show. In fact, they're encouraged not to.
The latest big sign of the times comes from the Arts Club Theatre Company, which has just hired multidisciplinary artist Vanessa Richards to be its new Community Engagement Manager.
She'll be taking on everything from post-show talks and lecture series to playwriting intensives aimed at developing new writers.
But what may be most interesting to watch of all is how many creative new ways she can come up with to interact with audiences. She's worked at events like Black History Month and last year's City of Vancouver 125th anniversary celebrations, but Richards is also a working artist who's done everything from music to creative writing and live art.
She'll be key to spurring new activities to mark the Arts Club's 50th-anniversary season in 2013–2014. And she's been brought in to amp up the Arts Club on Tour program that reaches out to the rest of Metro Vancouver.
Let's see if this move ups the ante for other companies.