Shattering the Myth of the Passive Spectator
Entrepreneurial Efforts to Define and Enhance Participation in "Non-participatory" Acts
What does “participation” mean in the context of presentational art forms like live theatre, dance performance or classical music? Is, as has been suggested recently by the James Irvine Foundation and researchers from WolfBrown, “participatory art” only that art in which the audience engages by becoming an active artist? What are the implications of such a shift from one of the major arts funders in the United States, and are they warranted? Increasing research indicates that the simple act of watching a performance event—spectating—is, in fact, participatory. Research into brain activity during such events and studies of performance on subsequent reasoning, emotional maturity and empathy indicate that the act of watching an artistic work requires an extraordinary amount of participation and attention on the part of the spectator, and ultimately dictates that so strongly articulating a spectrum of participation in which traditional presentational art as relegated to a lesser position is premature. Rather, a holistic approach being led by a small but growing group of entrepreneurs who straddle the divide between artist and arts administrator has begun to take root, working to augment and increase the impact of presentational art without sacrificing its presentational aspects.
Copyright (c) 2012 Clayton Lord
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