CULTURAL ENGAGEMENT INDEX
this is an interesting new research tool out of Philadelphia
It was developed "to track trends in consumer cultural engagement over time" and marks a shifting lens from "arts" to "culture".
What seems to be meant by it is a shift from asking questions only about if/when/how/why people attend "professional" arts events to asking questions about how people engage in artistic activities throughout their lives, including sitting in your apartment all by yourself screwing around with Garageband. "The CEI asks questions about both attendence-based activity and personal practice. " There was a similar study a year ago our of Irvine California. And I have a sneaking suspicion that a similar kind of thinking might be behind Chez Bushwick's new Capital B project.
I don't know that the findings in the CEI are necessarily surprising, but the shift makes me wonder about how the contemporary performance spaces/artists can position themselves in relationship to this shift.
Does it mark a push to break-down the divide between "professional artist" and "hobby artist"? Does it mark a push to re-value the hobby artist as a way to increase engagement in professionally planned/created events as audience members?
Or does it simply recognize the anarchic proliferation of the means to production (i.e. Youtube, iTunes, IMovie and Garageband make it so anyone can make art and get it out there)?
How does the person who makes art as a personal practice fit into our communities?
How with this shift affect the way cultural activities are funded? curated? presented? professionalized? taught?
As a "cultural anthropologist" I also find it interesting that this lens shift perhaps indexes a change in how society thinks of the arts - before art was not part of culture? art as personal practice is cultural practice, but art as professional production is a service provided?