I Have Reached the Next Level (2) – June 29

On March 22, 2017, I set a goal to write one blog post a day for 100 days. It was the day after my birthday. The point of the challenge was to produce work; to encourage me back into the creative space in which I thrive.

Scanning through the posts, I’m glad to see that I experimented with technology, teased a few beta ideas for the next project, and kept within a framework of categories, while leaving room for new ideas to emerge throughout the challenge. There were a few short posts on days I wasn’t feeling well. But even then, I posted something to stay true to myself. It was my own prescribed therapy to help get past a painful job loss, and embrace the new opportunities that come from being open. So how am I doing now? Very well, thank you very much.

There are some pretty incredible people in my safety circle. The folks in Jakopa Punch, Ice House, Bel Canto/Bach Choir, Godfreys, ArtsQuest, Fine Arts Commission were all there, waiting for me to come back to functionality. Great friends To–, Pa-, Do—-, Ea–, S&M Ri—–, G&C Wa—-, Je—-, Du—-, Ge—-, Ja—-, Do—, … were there when I needed to talk it out. My kids were oh so patient with my sad days, and nursed me back when my spirit and body were bedridden. Steve, as always, was my champion: patient, encouraging, loving, supportive, did I mention patient?

Near the end of the 100 blog post challenge, I made friends with two (new to this process) people who turned up the heat for me in these last couple of weeks. They listened to my ideas, and are now encouraging me to take the next leap into a much bigger commitment of creativity. Ri– & Er–… I can’t thank you enough for being the sounding board that brought a year’s worth of conversations with my husband and close friends into focus.

So what’s next?

(deep breath)

Ladies and gentlemen, may I please make an announcement? On Saturday, July 1, 2017 I will be [soft] launching The Audience Guide. It’s a multi-channel resource for arts loving audiences to learn more about the lively and performing arts created in the Lehigh Valley.

The Audience Guide will be a web based resource that includes original content for exploring arts venues, insights into arts and cultural organizations, interviews with the “magic fairies” that make the moments possible, supplemental material to help audiences enrich their experience, and planning ideas to make the most of the arts and cultural scene for visitors and people who live like a tourist in their own community. Content will be available in audio podcast, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I will be directing traffic that comes to this website directly to the venues and artists, and also sharing inspirational content from other creatives in the Lehigh Valley.

The intention for the blog is to help readers connect to what’s here and to know more about what makes this place special. But it’s also to help audiences connect to the experiences on their own terms; and to be present in these moments to perhaps forget about the day’s troubles, or suspend time if only for a breath.

I hope you keep an eye out for the soft launch, and watch it build over the next two months. The goal is to have enough content ready for a robust arts season by Labor Day weekend. For those who watch it grow, I hope you’ll share your opinions and ideas. The Audience Guide will be for you after all.

And now…. a little celebration:

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100 in 100

What do audiences want? – June 28

What do audiences want? – June 28

Artists and arts organization struggle daily with the question, “What do audiences want?” Some artists might boldly declare a detached nonchalant response to this question. Their artistic genius matters not on commercial success, but on meeting their own muse’s standards. Other arts organizations may change their signature completely to meet a budgetary goal by programming more popular art, rather than artists with more quality of the discipline. Otherwise termed, “the sell-out.”

Every artistic genre has stories of artists who choose to align their work on one side of this balance or the other. Many arts organizations work toward inviting people into understanding what their work is about through various means of outreach and educational initiatives. M asterworks will stand the test of time. But how do audiences develop an interest in being part of the new art, the live art, or participating in the process instead of merely observing its existence?

As an artist, I was pulled into these questions during the culture wars of the 1990s. Intrigued, worried, and somewhat befuddled by conversations I heard from established artists in the professional orchestra I was lucky enough to perform with, I started a quest to understand the barriers to the first problem:

Our audiences are graying. What are we doing to reach out to younger audiences?

That was 25 years ago. Babies born in that decade are having babies now. There have been changes in technology, changes in art, changes in the cultural economy, but the problem of audience building is ever present. There have been studies on audience segmentation, white papers on low barriers to entry, theories, symposiums, cross-disciplinary studies, foundations willing to support good ideas, and on and on.

There is no one solution. There are many creative ideas, innovative technologies, and people willing to take risks changing how they promote their art. But it can’t just be the artists who change. What about us, the audience? How can we change?

I’m about to take a risk in putting something into the world that might help audiences know more about the arts scene in The Lehigh Valley. It’s a mix of behind the scenes stories, interviews with “magic fairies,” information about the works, supplementary content, suggestions for complimentary activities, a blend of concierge/maitre’d assistance to help readers discover artistic experiences produced in the Lehigh Valley.

I’ve been building this project for a while.

This post is not meant to be a tease. It’s an invitation to readers to share what they look for when they’re looking for an artistic adventure. There are so many brilliant artistic voices in our community. So many ways to participate in the process.

What would you want to be able to access that would help you learn more about what’s happening in our arts community?

Asking…. for a friend.

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Morning Routine update – June 26

According to my phone apps, it’s been over a week that I’ve been getting out for a dog walk at 6am. Thanks to an accountability partner, and an eager dog, I only skipped Tuesday to account for a late rehearsal. I’m thinking that maybe I should get out at 6am anyway, and work in a nap on Tuesday afternoons. The action gets me moving to the point of not crawling back into bed.

I’m still writing morning pages, and limiting digital surfing. Still riding my bike to work when weather cooperates. Still getting to my projects and feeling ready to take on more productivity.

One could say the daily routine is normalizing, and I’m getting more done.

I’m feeling quite settled. Which is a good thing before the work goes from second gear to third gear this Saturday.

While I’m nearing the end of the 100 posts in 100 days, I also have a count down to launch in 6 days. I’m so excited.

And I’m going to leave it at that for now. Cryptic for a reason.

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Albums & Ice Cream, edition 5

Earlier this week, two things happened to inspire the 5th issue/edition of Albums & Ice Cream. The weekly CSA (farm share) offered second pint of sweet cherries and I had a day trip with my son to the Jersey shore.

The first quart of cherries were pitted and set out on the table last week, eaten within a couple of days. The second quart was pitted, but after listening to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” in the car with my son explaining to me all of the musical details, it only made sense to put these together on this post.

I had a job as a teen at the Kenosha Spot Drive In; serving ice cream sundaes and making shakes, malts and root beer whirls. We had four flavors; vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and one rotating “other” flavor, either butter pecan, or New York Cherry. I loved that ice cream with hot fudge. I don’t see this flavor very often in our regular ice cream parlors, so I wonder if it’s a “vintage” flavor, or one that was more regional to the mid-west. Which would be weird since it was “New York” cherry.

Oddly, the only recipes I found were Philly style base.  I prefer the French style. I’m getting better at making my own custard base, with a bit of consideration toward sensibility. I’m not religiously following the instruction to use 6 egg yolks. I use three whole eggs, and temper them more carefully. The strainer takes care of the tiny bits of white that cook. I also add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to keep it from freezing into a solid block of ice. This batch was a basic vanilla ice cream with an added splash of almond extract, then fresh local cherries cut in half and stirred into the custard by the machine.

While my son’s insights into the Pink Floyd album were more focused on the drums and lyrics, I was listening with a flush of memories of recording a Tribute Band of the album name in Rochester for my doctoral studies. I was applying anthropological theory and research practice to understand the attraction of a then new phenomenon in the local music scene; the tribute band. I saw a connection to audience building for the symphony orchestra, and made the case in my work, much to the dismay of the conservative music history department at Eastman. This was 1995, the height of the culture wars, and before the term” audience building” was a thing in the arts. I was onto something then, and I still am today.

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Movie Review: Paris Can Wait – June 24

Movie Review: Paris Can Wait – June 24

My daughter had been a bit gloomy for the past couple of days. Typical fourteen year old drama learning how to manage relationships over texting instead of real conversations. So to get her out of her funk, I suggested we see a “girls only” movie on a summer Saturday afternoon.

A good friend joined us at the Steelstacks Cinemas for a screening of Paris Can Wait. I was totally in the mood for a foodie movie. And I got just what I wanted. But the producers really would have made magic by supplying samples of the wine… I left the theater wanting to eat crusty bread and fancy goat cheese with a rich merlot.

The movie runs a little short; just over 90 minutes. But if it were any longer, it would have felt too long. Diane Lane is simply delightful. She has very acrobatic eyebrows. And I really. REALLY loved the beige pants she wore in the beginning of the film. Good thing my friend is a costumer. She was able to tell me how they were constructed, so I can try to find them. Of course, Ms. Lane is in great shape too, which always makes pants look fabulous. I’m not the only one looking for those linen pants. Check out this blog I found. And then this other one. I think this movie will be more about those pants than the food, the wine, the locations or… wait. Was Alec Baldwin in it?

While the story was simple, the scenery and message were what I wanted. It was a lovely trip to France, with a message of appreciating the surroundings and the simplicity of what nature already provides. Nice movie by Mrs. Coppola; Sophia’s mom. Her husband? Yeah, that guy.

If you care to read a better review of the film, the Los Angeles Times was nice. On average, the movie isn’t getting rave reviews by the critics. But I can tell you that women in their 50s are going to be thinking of how fabulous Diane Lane looked in this film; defying expectations for “mature” Hollywood actresses. Wait. I’m the same age as she… I’m mature?!?!?! (ick)

I don’t think I would have enjoyed the movie as much in the other multiplex theaters around. I love seeing movies at ArtsQuest. They’ve always got a few good choices. The comfy chairs, the clean floors and the potential to enjoy an adult beverage and the $8 ticket, no matter the time of day – will always keep the Banko Alehouse Cinemas my favorite venue to take in a movie.

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Community – June 23

When I’m out with my kids, and I run into someone I know, there’s going to be a chance for conversation lingering beyond their bank of patience. After the conversation ends, one of them will say, “Mom, you know everyone.”

On our way home from her harp lesson today, my daughter was looking through my phone messages and told me that I know too many people, because I apparently don’t erase text messages. To this I said,

“I hold onto texts and emails in case there’s something I need to remember. What does that have to do with how many people I know?”
“Do you know how many people are in your contacts?”
“Do I need to?”
“How many friends do you have on Facebook?”
“All of them – and many more that I haven’t yet met.”

I was volunteering at Godfrey Daniels tonight. There was a gentleman there who came up to me after the concert and asked, “You’re Silagh, right?”
I didn’t know his name, and I didn’t remember meeting him.
“Our mutual friend introduced us at Levitt Pavilion last summer.”
And now we’re friends.

See kids? That’s how this works.

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