There’s an intriguing article from the 6/29/17 edition of Classicalfm.com that examine a recent Canadian Broadcasting Corporation interview with violinist Nicola Benedetti where the she expresses concern over what she defines as a counterproductive preoccupation with age.
“I think one thing to get wrong is to criticise the audience for being old, as if that’s negative. I can’t believe how terrible that is and how offensive that is to categorise a group in that way and to encourage a generation gap, like it’s a problem to fix.
It’s difficult to deny ageism is one of several artificial parameters too many performing arts organizations use when evaluating impact and value.
For example, take the article here from 6/27/2017 that examines a new real-time mobile phone program notes service.
One of the orchestras experimenting with the service is the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) and sure enough, their press material projects a clear technology = young assumption (emphasis added).
“EnCue by Octava is a unique app designed to help and assist the participant through a musical journey. We of course welcome all users, but the tone is specifically aimed towards new and potentially younger audiences, offering a real-time insight into the music being played live on stage by the Orchestra.”
Chris Evans, RPO Director of Press and Marketing
On one hand, making a technology = young assumption might seem reasonable but contemporary research about smartphone user demographics dictates otherwise.
For example, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & Technology division published a fact sheet on 1/12/2017 about smartphone and mobile device usage that includes a good bit of useful insight into demographic trends. Here are a few highlights:
- Since 2011, the share of Americans that own smartphone increased from 35 to 77 percent.
- The difference between 18-29 and 30-49 age groups who own smartphones was only four percent; 92 to 88 percent respectively.
- Smartphone dependency (using smartphones as primary broadband connection device) trends are similar among all four age groups in the study (18-29, 30-49, 50-64, and 65+).
When circling back to the RPO press material about EnCue, it’s worth nothing that nothing at EnCue’s website suggests that their service is perhaps better suited for younger concertgoers. At the time this article was published, the handful of audience images integrated into page content suggests a broad range of age groups as potential users.
What do you think; are performing arts organizations painting themselves into a corner too often when it comes to assumptions about age?