… heck, I am an older person! Go figure! Who’da thunk I would get old, eh?
At virtually every discussion I have with board members of arts organizations (and many discussions with other arts managers as well), the desire to attract younger audience members is a primary topic. The issue is typically introduced by someone commenting negatively on the age of most current audience members: “Our audience is too old. Everyone has gray hair. Our audience members are likely to die away. We need a younger audience. How do we get young people to come to our performances?”
While I appreciate the spirit of this question, I don’t really agree with the mindset of the speakers who speak as if the missions of our organizations are not aimed at servicing senior citizens. And the fear that the older audience members will die out is not exactly justified. Many people, as they reach middle age, increase their arts participation as their discretionary time and money increase; these people replace those senior audience members who do pass away.
I agree wholeheartedly that we must build the next generation of audience members, donors and trustees. We want younger people to enjoy our performances. Culture is for everyone, not just senior citizens. But there is an implicit bias in the way the topic is raised. Somehow, younger audience members are deemed to be more highly-valued than their parents or grandparents.
Thank you, Mr. Kaiser! RTWT.