The Importance of Live Entertainment

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on Monday, 23 June 2014 in Blog Posts

The-Importance-of-Live-EntertainmentIt’s likely that all of us, in our lifetimes, have come away from a number of live performances feeling enthralled after having been captivated by a show that we found engrossing.  Certainly, not every example of live entertainment can be filed as a “classic” in our memories, but in my experience, it’s very rare that I’ve regretted seeing live entertainment.  In fact, those few instances of regret I’ve had for seeing a particular performance are far outnumbered by astonishingly fascinating experiences I’ve encountered as an audience member.

Strangely, however, it seems that the rate at which Americans attend live entertainment events (musical performances, comedy shows, live theatre, etc.) continues to drop.  A survey by The National Endowment for the Arts reports that over a 12-month period, just over one third of Americans attended any arts activity in 2008 (the most recent year for which data was available).  It’s troubling to note that this figure is down from 41% in 1992.

In the 1980s, there were big advances in the technology associated with large music acts.  Tours started travelling with excellent audio systems, and revolutionary lighting effects, in part, because audiences became increasingly knowledgeable about what was technologically possible to present in a show, and demanded that the shows for which they would spend their hard-earned money include such technology.  In no small part, MTV, and other television outlets devoted to music, contributed to these increasingly knowledgeable audiences by broadcasting concert footage full of moving lights, fog, lasers, and the like.  In other words, an expansion of public knowledge led to advances in the arts.

Nowadays, however, while the internet expands our access to knowledge, in some cases, it has done so at the cost of human interaction, which may be a contributing factor to the decreasing rate of public participation in the arts.  I’m certainly no sociology expert, so I won’t pretend to comprehend the net social gain or loss of the vast amount of information available to most of us within a few seconds, but that availability of knowledge sometimes comes at the cost of human interaction as we have our heads bowed to our mobile devices, or sit in a coffee shop staring into a laptop.

I’m hoping that future technological advances will focus on maintaining our access to information, while requiring less isolation from our fellow humans.  Maybe when devices are made that don’t require so much of our attention to obtain information, we will raise our heads as a society, interact with the world around us, and return to experiencing live entertainment in greater numbers.

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