SanderO raises so many interesting points. What do you think?
Responding to just a few of them ....
SanderO, on Apr 17 2008, 06:29 AM, said:
Ballet, like classic music, to be appreciated requires that the audience be a bit educated about the genre and the more they are the more robust their experience at a performance will be. Absent the education/experience ballet may look pretty or some of it athletic to new audiences and it may look like a relic from "old Europe" and this is often a far reach for the cultural experience of the American public.
There's the rub, unfortunately. It's inevitable when you're dealing with an art that is complex and profound, as well as technically difficult. I'm constantly frustrated by people who I introduce to major ballet who say "it's lovely" and then go on to talk about other things, rarely returning.
Could we find ourselves in a world where only the rich attend and support the arts, where ticket prices are so high that the little people cannot afford them, that these institutions are effectively owned and operated for and buy the wealthy and attendance becomes almost a moot consideration? In America it seems entirely possible.
Looking around, it seems this is already happening. The contrast with other societies can be frustrating. The latest Opera News
focuses on the current situation for opera in Switzerland. Zurich has more productions than the Met each year (35 compared to the Met's 28) and more performances (270 to 220). Granted, the house seats only 1,100, but ... nonetheless! Lots of money there, obviously. As SanderO comments, arts education, ticket prices, and reasonable ticket prices here in the U.S. have long been considered expendable.
An interesting project is underway in Venezuela where young people are bring taught to play classical music and musical instruments. It is now vastly popular among the youth and classic music has infused the culture and provided multiple benefits to the children and the culture as a whole. Nice going Mr Chavez, or whomever began this program.
The Venezuelan model or similar is the way to go to inspire audiences to the ballet. We will have many companies and more skilled artists and lower ticket prices and high attendance and be weaned from the support of the well heeled elitists who us the Belmont Room for tots of champagne. And hopefully the standards will remain high and the classic arts niche will be preserved, rather than perverted by Bernays' approach to mass marketing. (ICK).
I believe that the Venezuelan program pre-existed Chavez. But the oil money has allowed a generous level of funding. The Venezuelan government also recognizes a good thing for international public relations when it has one. It's been decades since the United States government has given thought (and funds) to promoting the arts seriously in our own campaigns for goodwill and respect abroad.
Interesting stuff, isn't it?
Yes it IS. Absolutely. And it's stuff that many ballet lovers seem to have little or no interest in. It always suprises me when people go to a performance, or enter a museum, and have a lovely time while not even sparing a thought about the the complex processes (economic and other) that make these arts possible. Great institutions can disappear or be changed out of recognition. It can happen.
Sometimes -- and this is the old curmudgeon coming out of its closet
-- I think that balletomanes should pay perhaps a little less time debating whose mad scene in Giselle is best ... and a little more to taking, thinking, and advocating on issues of how to sustain the large structures that are needed to support ballet culture as a whole: companies, productions, staff, schools, repertoires, etc..