Sunday, October 19, 2008

using ICTs to "promote" the arts

I mean here "promote" in an expanded sense of the term.

Recently, the Royal Opera House has made available online in its entirety a recording of its recent (September 2008) production of Mozart´s Don Giovanni. Having watched the opera online, I was duly impressed by and enthralled with my Internet-based experience, and I thought it a wonderful form of outreach for the arts, generally, and performing arts, in particular. The reason being that, in addition to the performance per se being available, much was provided in this Internet-screening by way of context. For, in the main pane streamed the visual recording, whilst below this the surtitles (subtitles) streamed, and to the right of the video feed, was a pane containing text giving more details on the historical significance of the work, along with descriptions of the characteristics of Mozart´s music, etc. It seemed to me a great way with which to introduce new audiences to the work. Browsing around the ROH site generally, one can´t help but notice that the folks there are extremely tech-aware.

It is then with the above in mind that the following part of today´s interview in the El País with the soon-to-be ex-director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Philippe de Montebello, struck a chord:

"P: ¿Y en cuanto al futuro?

R: El reto mayor es cómo transmitir el sentido de tan formidable legado a las nuevas generaciones sin desvirtuarlo. No es fácil. Las encuestas ponen de relieve una alarmante falta de conciencia histórica entre los jóvenes. No es sólo una cuestión de ignorancia, sino de indiferencia, que es más grave. Las colecciones que alberga el Metropolitan no significan lo mismo para la mayoría de los jóvenes que para el público maduro. Si queremos que nuestra institución tenga sentido para la gente joven, las nuevas generaciones de comisarios y directores van a tener que estudiar y utilizar las herramientas de la comunicación. Es una de las razones por las que decidí dejar la dirección del Metropolitan. Nací antes de la II Guerra Mundial. Pertenezco a otra época. No me siento cómodo con las nuevas tecnologías."

My translation (emphasis added is mine):

Q: And the future?

A: The biggest challenge is of how to convey the sense of this formidable legacy to new generations without devalueing it in any way. It´s not easy. Surveys highlight an alarming lack of historical consciousness in the youth. It´s not only a question of ignorance, but also of indifference, which is the more problematic [of the two]. The collections that the Met houses do not have the same significance for the large majority of the youth compared to older audiences. If we want our institution to be meaningful to the youth, the new generation of curators and directors need to study and make use of the tools of communication. This is one of the reasons why I´ve decided to leave as director of the Met. I was born before the Second World War. I belong to a different age. I don´t feel comfortable with the new technologies.

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