With the advancements in technology and considering how fast innovations in technology happen, the world is constantly evolving. As a result, the field of live performing arts has continually struggled and modified how it utilizes technology in the arts scene. While many believed that live performance acts would die down with the advent of the Internet and the continuous innovations, the supporters of technological advancements have vehemently opposed such notions. Technology has a positive impact on live performing arts because in the modern technological world, people’s demands are much higher than it was before. Live performing arts should integrate all current possible technologies in order to keep improving and maintain its status of entertaining performances.
While the performing arts industry enjoyed tremendous success up to the early 1950s, a consistent decline in art patrons has been noticeable with the “disappearance of major national arts funders, and the elimination of arts education programs in many school systems” (Cameron). Add to these changes is the unstable economy although the decline in art patrons and lovers cannot be solely attributed to the financial crisis. More likely, Cameron (2011) attributes the changes in tastes to the transformations happening everyday in technology, including the personal preferences and activities of people in their family lives and at work. In addition, Cameron (2011) notes that while there is an obvious decrease in audience attendance, the ticket prices for performances are steadily increasing, thus, making the costs more prohibitive for others who appreciate the arts, but are not capable of paying much for such performances. In addition, with the advent of various technological innovations such as the Discman, iPod, YouTube, and iTunes, among others, performances have become available on the Internet, making it easily accessible and affordable for everyone to see and appreciate.
Technology and the Internet has become the biggest competitor of the performing arts considering that a lot of what theater offers are available on the Net. How can it compete in an industry that caters to the needs of “young people [who] access culture-on-demand through YouTube and iTunes, and for little or no apparent cost” (Cameron), whereas live performing arts costs a lot and requires following certain theater protocols and attires? Therefore, the live performance arts industry has to reclassify and realign its goals in order to attract new and old customers.
With the coming of the digital age, live performances became available for all in the sense everything could be recorded and uploaded in various media forms and platforms. However, the experience of actually hearing and seeing the performances with a live audience can never be replaced by whatever digital media is available for viewing. This is how technology and the live performing arts can take advantage of each other’s strengths. For instance, dance concerts can only be fully enjoyed when viewed live as the crowd complements the digital animations included in each performance. Kenyon (2009) asserts that technology was initially used to complement live performances. But as concert conductors realized the potential of sharing the beauty of music through recordings, the idea of incorporating music in the finished product came into fruition. This came alongside the discovery of compact discs and players, which made listening to concert music easier, cheaper, and more accessible.
In the same light, the popularity of video and television gave way to the creation and development of music videos that have invaded the consciousness of the youths. With performances viewable in various media forms, youths now learn about popular culture and develop an appreciation for live performing arts as directors incorporate more of technology in their masterpieces. While traditional music listening may have undergone changes in the sense that some live performances now do not only happen outside theaters and auditoriums, but in parks and other open spaces, more people are now aware about different kinds of music, theater acts, and performances. This results to a growing audience appreciation for what was once considered as arts for the elite (Kenyon).
In a study conducted by Thomson et al., (2013), results showed that not only has technology and the Internet become complementary with the new kinds of performing arts, it has also provided a venue for other musicians and actors to share their work with more people and to other cultures. This then has paved the way for the arts audience to grow and include a diverse set of audience, instead of becoming limited in a geographical scope alone. As technology helps in increasing access to the arts, people who live in far-flung areas and who do not have the capacity to enjoy live performing arts are able to appreciate and experience the beauty of the different arts. In the same manner, considering technology’s and the Internet’s capacity to reach a wider audience, “non-profit organizations [are able] to share educational content and stimulating art and performances worldwide” (Thomson et al., 2013). In addition, apart from promoting local art, this mutual relationship between technology and live performing arts is able to generate additional income for the nation or local destination as they are able to endorse local culture to a wider audience.
So, how should live performing arts respond to all these advancements? The only and best way is to re-invent live performance to create new art forms and disciplines. For instance, considering the digitalization of film, more directors now make short films filmed and produced using mobile phones and interspersed with computer graphics. As the photography and film industries have evolve, interactive multimedia will progress as well. Thus, there will be varied ways on how theater plays and dance choreographies will be restaged. There will be new modes of production when it comes to live performances, which will include the use of digital media, computerized lighting design, holographic actors, and more (deLahunta). As such, there will be increased collaboration between the two industries – technology and live performing arts – to ensure that though there may be variances on how one presents it to the audience, the product still remains on top quality and the features of both industries are still highlighted.
Although technology has visibly changed the way live performance art is done now, it has helped increase audience level and appreciation as it reached more people all over the world. Whatever barriers were once put up is now slowly being torn down to ensure a perfect melding of both industries take place. Now, people’s awareness about the various forms of art has increased, there is more exposure to artists’ work, plays and exhibits are given deeper meanings, and a huge cultural breakdown is emerging as a diverse audience understand technology and art becoming one.
Cameron, Ben. “A New Era for the Performing Arts.” One. 4(1) 2011. Web. 1 December 2013. <http://carey.jhu.edu/one/2011/fall/a-new-era-for-the-performing-arts/>.
deLahunta, Scott. “Speculative Paper: Theater/Dance and New Media and Information Technologies.” Dance & Technology Zone. 1998. Web. 1 December 2013. <http://www.art.net/~dtz/scott3.html>.
Kenyon, Nicholas. “Digital Technology and the Arts: All the World’s a Screen.” The Guardian. 2009. Web. 1 December 2013. <http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2009/nov/24/digital-technology-live-performance>.
Thomson, Kristine, Purcell, Kristen, and Rainie, Lee. “Section 6: Overall Impact of Technology on the Arts.” Arts Organizations and Digital Technologies. 2013. Web. 1 December 2013. < http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Arts-and-technology/Main-Report/Section-6.aspx>.