Priceless Arts Coverage

This Executive Director isn't a Gen X-er. Not a Boomber. Not even a member of the Greatest Generation.

No. In fact, I'm a Millennial. I've grown-up knowing personal computers, cell phones, digital music downloads and Facebook (and then myspace and then back to Facebook) being popular. Oh, and if you need to reach me, email or text me. Anything but a phonecall please!

I'm also a part of the generation that local city leaders would like to attract to downtown, part of their wise plan to expand the tax base and build an even stronger urban core. So, my curiosity was piqued after reading an Indy Star article by Neal Taflinger about arts coverage, including perspectives from a number of my colleagues from the local arts scene.

Neal asked what I thought about the article – via Twitter, as we Millennials so enjoy of course – and here are my thoughts about Circle City arts coverage in the second decade of this millennium.

The digital public square of social media is a golden opportunity for artists and arts patrons to interact. The feedback, the discussion, inspiration and motivation are well-suited to those environs. But when I want to absorb an informed, educated summary and analysis of a gallery opening, a ballet or chamber ensemble performance, bring on the professional journalist. We may be a “me generation,” (perhaps a generation of “arm chair critics” even?) but we also value the difference between my own two cents and the priceless role that professional journalism plays in arts coverage. The verdict: Both/And = Provide informed, professional arts coverage but at the same time, provide the forum for me to share what “I” thought as well.

Vibrant arts coverage in mainstream media is genuine. Authentic. We all know that guy in our social media world. You know, the dude, the bro, the poser who just tries too hard to be cool, to be suave, to be “the bomb.” (Yes, I included that ancient colloquial relic.) I want to read arts coverage that doesn't try to be my bff, but instead makes me think a bit. Let's not misconstrue beer festivals and bourbon tastings for arts coverage. Don't be a cheerleader for what is hot and trendy on Instagram. Be authentic, be informed.

Challenge me. Make me think. Make me uncomfortable. Introduce me to a perspective I may not have heard before, may not agree with, but nonetheless a fresh vantage point for that given work of art. Great arts coverage speaks not to the lowest common denominator, but rather it elevates our minds higher than the reader might have expected. As our Artistic Director, Eric Stark, is fond of saying, “It is easy to be cheap, but to be priceless, that is a real achievement.”

Also, what about arts coverage that is about the business of arts? Must arts coverage strictly be about the art itself all of the time? Other areas could include new (national) trends in arts fundraising, how does Indy compare with peer cities and public funding, perhaps we follow the creation cycle of a new work from conception to installation, tap into photos and archives of some longer-existing arts organizations around the city, and maybe examine local trends in ticket sales, fundraising, recruitment/retainment and talent management, cultivating Board service and volunteerism in the arts.

Good arts coverage is invaluable, and yet it doesn't come easily. It is captivating and diverse. It provides a setting for all of us to be involved, but it doesn't pander or dumb down. Great arts coverage summarizes the community it serves, and is among the handful of tools to define (and re-define) who a citizenry is. People are hungry for priceless arts coverage and Indy's diverse arts community has set the table with exceptional art.

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