Is technology now threatening the nature and perhaps the very existence of the live performing arts and how those arts should respond to the changes being brought about by technology?
The fast pace development of technology is often cited as the reason why live performing arts are no longer as popular as it was before. The ticket sales for new motion pictures and 3D movies are way higher than theater shows and other similar productions’. Indeed, it is tempting to generalize that technological advancements have made the nature of live arts an obsolete and non-profitable one. However, there are many other aspects to this phenomenon that should be studied.
A 1993 journal has captured the essence of this recent phenomenon when they published that the future of these live performing arts “depends critically upon their ability to compete for attention with a popular culture that is powerfully propagated by the mass media of radio, television, the movies, and the culture of advertising and promotion in which they are enmeshed” .
The arrival of radio as a means of communication and entertainment has made live performing arts a more difficult and competitive field to be in. The radio music presents a well-defined sound that could be repeated over and over again as long or as often as the listener wishes to. In a live music performance on the other hand, the listener cannot replay the performance again, unless he opts to review the performance again, which would usually require him to buy another ticket. The thrill and excitement that goes with each performance ends on that same day. Hence, radio and other similar technological devices have largely replaced live performing arts.
Even television’s introduction to society resulted to a tighter competition for the performing arts industry. The television has provided a steady and constant source of entertainment right at the comfort of people’s homes. People no longer need to dress up and go to a theater or other similar places in order to get their fix of entertainment. The television screen has become an alternative that satisfies many of the entertainment needs of the masses.
During the 20th century, the arrival of computers and the boom of the internet age have created a significantly bigger pressure on the capacity of live performing arts to carry on and adapt to the dramatic changes brought about by society’s fascination on modern radios and television sets. Many of the rare performances like orchestra, ballet or other expensive and invite-only event can now be seen online.
Apart from computers, the modern mobile phone has also been revolutionary in changing the way people view diversion activities and entertainment. The mobile phone which was originally designed for communications has now been transformed into more than a simple tool for messaging. Its accessibility and the addition of different features have made it another tool that rivals the popularity of live performance arts.
The changing Mentality and Preferences of the masses
Technological advancements have made profound changes in the mentality and preferences of the masses. Most people crave for instant gratification when it comes to diversion and leisure activities. People who grew up in an era wherein fast and instant communication and other means of digital entertainment are more like norms will naturally find it hard to be interested more with live performance arts.
The short attention span of people and the constant need to be entertained in the fastest manner has made live performance arts suffer from lack of patrons in these modern times . It is then easy to see why the response to the live performance arts is waning. The changing characteristics of the target demographics or audience are huge factors in this decline.
Why the Performing Arts cannot seem to keep up
Apart from the evident change in mentality and increased patronage of other newer forms of mass media and entertainment, there are many other reasons why the live performance arts sector finds a hard time keeping up with the competition.
One of the main reasons why the live arts sector cannot seem to compete with more modern forms of mass media is the high costs associated with producing these live shows . It is impossible to conduct a performance show without a large budget to cover the salaries of people involved, pay for the venue, lightings, sound system and other essentials. Ticket sales for these shows are consistently high and expensive for the average consumer. Hence, it is easy to see why people flock towards cheaper and more affordable forms of entertainment rather than break their back with these expenses.
The way how people view the live performance arts can also be a hindrance to its mainstream success. The mentality that such arts are much more refined than traditional movie and television performances often result to people shying away from trying out and appreciating the former entertainment options. Therefore, there may be an inherent need to a need to educate the masses about this type of art and entertainment in order to see a renewed acceptance and patronage again.
Suggested Changes and Course of Action
In order to save the future of live performance arts, there are changes that need to be done now. Here are some tips that could potentially increase the interests of people and draw them in to these art forms once again.
A more powerful approach to advertising and promotions
We simply cannot deny that the entertainment sector is now a large and varied jungle. Live performance arts needs to step up and create a noise in order to catch attention. The people working on these sectors need to find new, more interesting and creative ways to promote the said businesses. The performance arts industry is but one option among many choices for entertainment available today. Hence, a concentrated effort to make more advertising campaign and promotions is needed in order to revive this sector.
Changing the perspective of people on live arts
People’s perspectives should also be given attention if we want to bring people back to the theaters, opera houses and other venues of live performance arts. Every effort to set people’s minds regarding the respect and elegance of the said arts should be done. In order to draw people back, they must be persuaded to do so without pressure and coercion. The advertising efforts should center on changing the perspectives of people. Attacking the root cause of problems in the performance arts means that an appeal to the target audience must be done in a convincing and logical manner.
Incorporating the familiar themes of modern times
Inviting audiences into opera, ballet or theater halls is not an easy job especially with all the hindrances present in this era. A suggestion in order to pique the public’s interest is to find elements of the modern world into these performances . When the people feel that there is something familiar and relatable to a certain show, then the response will be better. Art appreciation is a largely personal endeavor that must be taken into consideration when trying to rejuvenate the industry of live performance arts.
Shorter and more varied shows to fit people’s attention span and capture their interests
Another technique that can be used to revive people’s interest is to make the shows more visually stimulating and varied. Most people who grew up with televisions, computers and mobile phones are used to a largely visual information feed. Changing the pace of these shows is also another way that can be utilized to help people relate to live performance art shows.
Towards a Smooth Balance of Live Arts and Mainstream Media
We cannot do away with technology and other forms of mainstream media. We must learn how to draw a line between live performance arts and other options present in the present era. If we do not want the industry of live performance arts to die and fade into oblivion, we must find ways to make them more interesting for an audience used to modern forms of entertainment.
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