Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Perhaps I Should Not Have Responded

Greg Sandow quotes David Gockley's gloom-and-doom from a year ago - before following up - and I responded, though my response is awaiting moderation.


Bruce Hembd said...

When someone responds by starting with a sarcastic "Gosh" and your name, you know you are in for a ride.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Haha, yes, definitely.

Lisa Hirsch said...

And....my not-yet-posted reply to him starts "Gosh, Greg." That was fun. :)

silpayamanant said...

"Perhaps I Should Not Have Responded"

I tell myself that almost everytime I respond at Greg's blog! :P

Lisa Hirsch said...

I should not have bothered, really.

silpayamanant said...

Greg seems to be caught up in some ideal revolution for classical music and it informs how he interprets things for the most part. His heart's in the right place, but I feel like his sense of what's needed to jolt the arts is misguided and often plagued by the same biases that others in (as Drew McManus calls) the "Chicken Little Think Tank" often use as a starting point for possible policy, marketing and institutional change in the arts.

Occasionally he has some gems and obviously brings up tons of wonderful anecdotal accounts. But--anecdotal evidence and case studies just aren't the same thing as hard data and most of us could just as easily find counter-anecdotes to refute him (which he will discount, of course).

I'm interested in the Flanagan book, which I should be getting within the next week or two, but having read a number of Flanagan's other papers and analyses there doesn't seem to be much new or nuanced interpretation that would take into account many other factors or contexts most academic economists tend to ignore for the sake of simplicity.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I can't help but remember that in 2004-05, Greg was actually talking about "the death of classical music."

Classical music is in no danger of dying. Some classical music institutions are going to go under (or have gone under since then). There should not really be anything surprising about that, especially in grim economic times.

Excellent point about what Drew says. I believe that overall he has a much better idea of what's going on and why than Greg does.

I'm also curious about Flanagan's book, and perhaps I will get myself a copy.

Henry Holland said...

Lisa, my anitpathy towards what The Gosh Boy writes is well known to you, I think.

I think he's not entirely believable simply because of a conflict of interest: he makes money advising orchestras. Now, if an orchestra is hiring outside consults about how to survive and that person then writes about the state of orchestras, that's not a good sign.

He's also a flat-out loon when it comes to where to perform. Sorry, no organization is going to be playing the Alpine Symphony (chosen at random for giganticness) at Joe's Brew Pub any time soon.

It's a self-selecting slicing off of the rep: solo works, small chamber works, recitals. Hell, I'd be impressed if one of those orgs he goes nuts about was able to do the Schreker Chamber Symphony (23 players) at one of those places he's convinced are the future of classical music.

I can't help but remember that in 2004-05, Greg was actually talking about "the death of classical music."

*snerk* It's obvious that there's challenges to our beloved art form, but hell, if I read one more Chicken Little-esque "the death of classical music" article or another damn article by a white dude my age (52) moaning that the only guitar rock you hear on Top 40 is Neckelback, I'll scream. I will I tell you, I WILL.

Like classical music, white dudes doing rock by playing guitars and drums in a 4-6 piece band once ruled, but they don't any more. Boo effin' hoo.

silpayamanant said...

That "death of classical music" trope rears its ugly head now and again, and the field just never gets the memo! You are absolutely correct in that possibly many institutions will go under--the grim economic times is just weeding out those that weren't strong or adaptable enough (for whatever reason) that would otherwise have continued operating were times generally good.

Yes, Drew has a very cautious optimism for the field as a whole, which makes sense since his livelihood depends on the field doing so--he does have a vested interest, but tempered with much knowledge of the industry. Greg's primarily an academic with no particular vested interest in the field or particular institutions in it. While I generally prefer not to name-call I do find the imagery of the phrase very humorous though I think for me it conjures up a flock of headless chickens frantically running around shouting (how they whoult without heads, I don't know) "The Sky Is Falling!! The Sky Is Falling!!"

If Flanagan's book creates some dialogue then that will be good for the field--there are obviously many issues that will need to be addressed given the nature of the biggest economic elephant in the room (The Baumol Effect) that performing arts institutions will need to address somehow. I'm just afraid that by focusing on the top 50 institutions (budgetwise) so little of that longitudinal analysis will be practically useless for smaller budget organizations. And obviously there is now a new technology which can increase labor productivity--livecasting.

There had always been the upper limit of live concert hall capacity for earned income. Now that recordings seem unlikely to offset the lack of labor productivity growth, livecasting seems to be a new technology much more suited for an industry that thrives in live performance. The big barrier here will be start-up costs for bringing the technology into particular institutions which means only the largest budget organizations will likely be able to capitalize on it quickly as some already have.

silpayamanant said...


I guess Greg does have some vested interest--he does have a book to sell after all! Can't have a good book without an antagonist which threatens doom and gloom! :P

Lisa Hirsch said...

Greg also does some orchestral consulting and hangs around with orchestra managers. He certainly seems privy to a fair amount of inside information.

Those are all VERY good points, especially about the possibilities for live casting. Not to mention plain old fashioned audience expansion and fund-raising.