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    September 9, 2008

    Art, Movies, and Fundraising

    On my drive home yesterday, I listened to a fascinating story on All Things Considered about how movie theaters around the country are branching out from the regular Hollywood and Indie fare and showing all kinds of things, like opera performances, Broadway shows, and even live broadcasts of marching band competitions. It makes financial sense for the movie theater-they can charge much more to show say, Cirque du Soleil, on a giant screen, and movie goers like it too: sure, it's not the same as having one of those acrobats twirl right above your head, but you are also not paying $160 for the pleasure.

    The story noted that last year, over 920,000 watched live casts of the Met's Opera performance, many many more than go to the real Met during the season. This got me thinking-would I pay, say $20, to go watch a livecast of an Opera, or even a recording? Would people like me pay that kind of money? (in my case no, don't like the Opera).

    This eventually led me to thinking about Gen Y and the arts. Admittedly, I have not done much work with organizations that raise funds for the arts-museums, music programs, public trusts, etc. And until yesterday I never really thought about whether there is any difference between art-related fundraisers and what I do every day.

    This made me think about a symposium I recently attended where everyone was talking about social networking and nonprofit fundraising and then a lady raised her hand and said something like: "I work for an arts foundation. My donors are different. They love art. It is their passion. They understand its inherent need and beauty. How can I use the social web to engage them in what I do every day? Should I even bother?"

    I'd say we were all stumped by her question, including the speakers at the symposium.

    Yesterday's story reminded me of this lady and made me wonder about the relationship my generation has with art. I wonder if, as a generation, we even have a relationship with art? And I wonder what this means for those who try to preserve and promote art forms, and those who are tasked with raising the funds to do so. Is art something that one grows into with age more so than giving? I don't know.

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