“Breaking Barriers” with Video Streaming Outreach

November 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

Recently, for reasons completely coincidental to me being a current student in the arts administration field, I’ve read and had conversations about education outreach programs associated with performing arts organizations. There are many reasons for an organization to begin one of these programs (connecting with the community at large, creating a base of future arts patrons, fostering the underprivileged youth, …cough…funding) but in order to receive grants for them you need to prove that you are breaking down the real and/or metaphorical barriers that keep your program from “reaching out”. Forcing your audience (say, for a free show at a theater) to find a way to come to you is hardly a way of reaching in the eyes of grant panels. Finding a way to get your art or education program outside of the hall is really the key. Traveling shows, like theatre troupes or chamber ensembles, are a more economical way of bringing performance to a school. The large sacrifice in quality, though, may detract some organizations from using this as an option (this may be why so many organizations have different names for their traveling groups, keeping the view of the larger group untarnished).

Well, one recent solution to this idea is to stream a full performance from the Sydney Opera House to Port Macquarie on the Mid North Coast of Australia. The idea is that this system should work for any school with video-conferencing capabilities and live performances, tours, or anything at the Sydney Opera House could be piped in. The idea is similar to the paid performances at the Met that are simulcast to movie theaters around the world, but on a much smaller scale with (presumably) lower cost. Ok, so maybe the “quality” issue I spoke of earlier isn’t exactly fixed by this idea. The burden of quality streaming will likely fall on the school’s video-conferencing capabilities (one that many schools are unlikely to have). But the idea is still interesting to me. As technology gets cheaper, the idea of streaming live performances, interviews, panel discussions, etc. could be an effective way of spreading the reach of an educational program.

— Zack


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