Whenever I come back from conferences, I always get into “nerd” mode where I begin reading a lot of reports and articles addressing various issues in dance and the arts. It’s been a very informative week I must say. One issue that has come up in my readings is about engaging young professionals in the arts. There has been much talk about the “graying” and “shrinking” of arts audiences across all the disciplines.
States of Arts Participation.
I came across an article in Forbes entitled “Do The Fine Arts Have A Future?” The title itself caught my attention because as a young professional who works in and enjoys the arts, I was a bit shocked at such a comment. I thought to myself, is the author insinuating that the arts are dead and that I should jump ship before it’s too late? Then I thought, wow what a strong statement that I disagreed with. I think the arts are going through an interesting time of growth, expansion, and recognition.
I won’t deny that there is a decline of arts participation across the board,and the graph above truly shows that. However, I do believe that there is a societal change in the way people work and operate in life that the arts need to recognize as a field and adjust accordingly. Some of the more “high-brow” arts organizations are resistant to change, with the idea that it will “water” the art form, but I see it more as an entry to reach a group that is often left out- and I fall into this category. I’m not a student anymore so I don’t qualify for student discounts, but I’m able to afford the general admissions price. We also move fast and you got to keep up to reach us.
To read this article in Forbes, please click here.
As much as I hated reading the above article, the numbers don’t lie. Also, the fact that I work for a arts and cultural institution, it is a reality that arts goers tend to be older. I actually get excited when I see someone who appears to be in my age bracket who attends an event that I’m either working or attending myself.
Challenges Facing Young Professionals.
With that being said, I became interested to know what challenges the experts say keep young professionals from engaging in the arts. This thought process led me to another article that was recently published in the Huffington Post entitled “Art Access for Millennials: Young Professional Programs.” Society is starting to recognize that young adults (roughly over 25, but under 40) are the future of the country politically, socially, and economically and cannot be ignored. I particularly enjoyed reading this article because talked about what arts organizations are doing to reach this demographic while addressing some barriers that may keep them participating.
To read this article in the Huffington Post, please click here.
The author suggests that time, cost, and having no one to go with are top reasons young professionals don’t engage in the arts. To a certain extent, I agree. When I was “younger” in my college days, I used to be down for whatever, whenever. Now it’s like I need to calendar you in months in advance to ensure I can hang out! I totally took advantage of my student discount. I used to flash my student ID all the time. Now often times I look at the price and say maybe next time (not actually knowing when next time will be with those prices). And sometimes I just want to hang out with my friends. But what I’m finding that as an “adult” my friends and I have different interests and may not want to exactly see the ballet like I do. They rather hit up the bar or the club which really isn’t my scene. And that’s ok.
How current arts institutions are engaging young professionals.
So what exactly are the dance and other arts organizations doing to address this need? I have come across a few groups dance/arts groups that are doing programming to reach young professionals based here in NYC. This is not intended to be a complete list, but more a sampling of groups/activities I have been or currently am involved with as a young professional in dance:
Ailey’s Young NY.
Acclaimed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is offering a series of special events and ticket offers for patrons ages 21 to 30. Some programs include Young NY Night where tickets buyers must be between the previously mentioned age group and are able to get $25 seats anywhere in the house, and a number of free social events either before or after a performance. For more information, please visit their website here.
Dance/NYC Junior Committee.
The Dance/NYC Junior Committee (more affectionately known as JComm) is a group of individuals between the ages of 21 and 30 who work in the field of dance as performers, educators, and administrators. The work to serve as a liaison between their age groups and the greater dance community while addressing issues that are specific to this particular demographic. To learn more about JComm, please visit their website here.
Groove With Me Young Professionals Committee.
This group consists of NYC based young professionals (ages 21-40) who believe in the mission of Groove With Me. Members show their support for the organization by working to increase public awareness of the organization and its activities and support different fundraising initiatives. If you are not familiar with this organization, I highly recommend that you do! They are truly do amazing work as they transform the lives of girls who may not otherwise have access to quality dance programming. Want to learn more about what it means to be part of the Young Professionals Committee? Then, visit their website here.
Emerging Leaders of New York Arts.
The Emerging Leaders of New York Arts (ELNYA) is the New York chapter of a nationwide program led by the Americans for the Arts. The goal is to facilitate a place for young professionals in their first decade of their career with the knowledge, skills, and contacts for upward mobility in the field. This is done through a series of events such as panel discussions, networking social events, and a culture club. For more information, please visit their website here.