The arts are a very natural platform for creating with others. After all, what is a live performance but a natural coming-together of two partners, the performers and the audience? Inherently, these parties exchange energy, each bringing something valuable: the performers, their craft and their expression, and the audience, their receptivity, their openness to the experience that is unfolding.
There is something magical in this co-creation – this exchange of energy – that cannot be replicated outside a live performance. So much goes into the practicing, the preparation, the selling of tickets, the travel to the venue, the parking, the hustling into the hall. In the end, the truth is: a performance is finite and fleeting. It happens at a defined time and in a defined place. It’s a rendezvous of a distinct group of people that will never again be replicated. After the last clap dies away and the lights go up, that shared energy dissipates.
This is part of the magic: we walk away with nothing tangible, but with a set of memories and emotions that we have collected over the course of the performance. Which means that this is begins with the art, but in the end, what remains is our experience.
But the conclusion of a performance is just the beginning of a co-creation that really matters.
As soon as a performance ends, we look to the person next to us, to share. We want to orient ourselves to what just happened, aesthetically and emotionally. We want to compare notes, to clarify moments that moved us, to make sense of what we just witnessed. And that means reaching out of ourselves and connecting with others. Most of us do this instinctively at the close of a performance.
Art is abstract. It means something different to every person. As we continue to create and share through art, as we make sense of our experiences together, we begin to connect with each other. This is how community is built: a blurring of lines between people, for even a split second. An understanding that comes from shared experience.
And empathy is the seed of community.
So, true audience development = community development.
In this New Year, let’s aim to play the long game. Let’s go beyond marketing events. Let's go beyond creating great work. Let’s foster deeper connections. Let’s truly connect human beings through art this year. Let’s build community.
Care to hear more about my work? Check out episode #178 on the Innovation Crush podcast. Thanks to IC creator and host Chris Denson, Sam Hyken of Nu Deco Ensemble, New World Symphony, the Sagamore Hotel and the Arts & Business Council Miami for the opportunity to share, learn and co-create with these incredibly creative people. What a blast!