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I have an article in this fortnight's Arts Professional arguing that the arts need to get to grips with the idea that a mother of a change is a'coming, and about how the arts have a chance to build a strong, resilient network in the face of coming cuts by adopting a new, generous approach:

I have an article in this fortnight's Arts Professional arguing that the arts need to get to grips with the idea that a mother of a change is a'coming, and about how the arts have a chance to build a strong, resilient network in the face of coming cuts by adopting a new, generous approach:

... we have reached a tipping point. The gap between what new and old media deliver us yawning. This changes how opinions are formed and how audiences are reached. It also raises interesting questions about where high quality criticism is going to come from in the future.

On the surface there's a simple conclusion to be reached from the arrival of the Twitterati. Arts organisations need to think more about social media. The Barbican website already has a social media networks button on its front page. Fine idea. Twitter can fill empty seats within a couple of  hours of a performace. But at the moment that's where most people's thinking stops. This is a mistake because the change is fundamental. Arts organisations, if big enough, used to hire press officers on the strength of their contacts book, but what does that mean now? It's not just the dipping circulations - accelerated by the recession, newspaper advertising revenues are expected to fall by as much as 21% across the board this year. This means cuts. Emails to old contacts suddenly bounce; they've gone freelance. Talent is leaching away from old media. The money spent trying to get column inches is increasingly money less well spent[...] but that's just the half of it.

Conventional arts websites have become good at doing two things. They list events coming up and sell you tickets to them. If you're lucky there's a blog, but it's often pretty thin fare. These sites exist within a fast-changing internet filled with people sharing news, wit, opinion, photographs, films and music. In comparison arts websites often look staid and monumental [...] The key word is "sharing". If arts websites want to move from the vertical model - telling people what's good for them - to the horizontal model of using the energy of social networks, then it's about giving stuff away. As any sociologist will tell you, the basis of any social network, real or virtual, is reciprocity.

Read the whole article on the Arts Professional website (subscription required).

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