Never one to avoid putting his money where his mouth is, Alex Ross posted a follow-up article to his “Cheap Seats” post which highlights some affordable concert offerings in the New York City area as well as throughout the US and UK. Alex also takes a moment to point out the benefit of having centralized concert listings which include affordable options. In a different outlook on this topic, Marc Geelhoed posted an article at Deceptively Simple expressing his dismay over a lack of effort on behalf of those searching for affordable concert events…
Marc makes a number of good points and uses some excellent resources as examples of where to find centralized calendars of performing arts events, such as Time Out Chicago (an excellent resource that was mentioned here previously). Coming from someone who works at an institution that certainly wants to increase exposure and accessibility, Marc’s frustration is understandable; however, I still feel the overriding point here is that NYC and Chicago (and any other US megalopolis for that matter) are unique in that they have resources like Time Out which benefit potential concertgoers. But what about smaller cities such as Omaha, Charleston, Portland, Tucson, Jacksonville, Columbus, or Birmingham?
From an aggregate perspective, larger shares of concertgoers receive their live cultural offerings from performing arts organizations outside of top 20 metropolitan areas. Consequently, how many potential concertgoers located in communities within that larger share are missing out on concert events due to a lack of comprehensive resource tools?
In my previous article on this topic, a reader by the name of “David” left a comment which points toward a probable solution (this version is edited for length, the full comment is here):
“The irritating thing is that there used to be a website…which listed…all classical concerts in NYC, at least at the main venues. So every couple of weeks I would look at that, see the full range of options, and then try to find reasonably-priced tickets for the ones I was interested in.
But in the last year the website ceased to carry a concert calendar, and merely links to the organizations. I can’t blame the owner of the website for this, since it must have been a lot of work to keep it updated, but it was a tremendous public service, and I really feel the lack of it now – merely to find out what is going on takes so much effort, so I tend to confine myself to the tried and true…”
Although the idea of a cultural Good Samaritan taking the time to maintain a comprehensive concert calendar isn’t new, David touches on what is likely the primary reason these sites come and go: the owner becomes overwhelmed with the necessary amount of work needed to keep offerings up to date.
Nevertheless, I expect this is exactly the sort of arrangement where we’ll find future solutions for communities that don’t benefit from larger traditional media outlets like Time Out (or if those institutions go under). In the past year alone, I’m sure everyone has noticed the seemingly exponential advancements in how new media platforms offer tools to aggregate and distribute information with minimal administrative oversight. As a result, it isn’t difficult to imagine that the necessary elements to bring all of this together are right around the corner.
Ultimately, all it really takes is someone with the time to write the template/plugin code that adequately automates the necessary input/output tasks and someone to take advantage of it. All it takes is one successful endeavor and it will snowball to a point of ushering in a new wave of community based cultural calendars that improve accessibility for all arts groups.
So who is going to get the ball stared?