Does Audience Engagement Affect Artistic Work?

In our third podcast, Richard Evans speaks about ways in which audience development strategies relate to artistic work with David Shimotakahara, Artistic Director of GroundWorks DanceTheater, and Charles Fee, Producing Artistic Director of Great Lakes Theater. Both are leaders of Cleveland organizations participating in Engaging the Future, a program developed with the Cleveland Foundation.

David Shimotakahara has been a member of the Atlanta Ballet, Boston Repertory Ballet, Kathryn Posin Dance Company, and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. He performed with Ohio Ballet under the direction of Heinz Poll from 1983-1999. He also served as Rehearsal Assistant for Ohio Ballet from 1989-1999. From 1989-1997, Mr. Shimotakahara founded and was Director of New Steps. This acclaimed dance project offered a variety of programs that stimulated the creation and growth of new choreography in Northeast Ohio. Mr. Shimotakahara has choreographed for opera and theater with the Cleveland Opera, Great Lakes Theater Festival and the Dallas Theater Center. He served on the Carlisle Project advisory panel in 1996, and dance panels for the Ohio Arts Council, Illinois Arts Council, the Mid Atlantic Arts Alliance and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has received 6 consecutive Individual Artist Fellowships for Choreography from the Ohio Arts Council from 1996 to 2007. In 1998, he received a McKnight Foundation Fellowship from the Minnesota Dance Alliance to create new work in the Minneapolis, St. Paul communities. Mr. Shimotakahara was awarded the 2000 Cleveland Arts Prize for Dance. In 2002 his work with GroundWorks Dancetheater was recently voted “One of 25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine. In 2007, he received the OhioDance award for Outstanding Contributions to the Advancement of the Dance Artform. Mr. Shimotakahara was a 2008 recipient of the first COSE Arts and Business Innovation awards as the founder of GroundWorks DanceTheater.

Charles Fee holds a unique position in the American theater as producing artistic director of three independently operated, professional theater companies: Great Lakes Theater in Cleveland, Ohio (since 2002), Idaho Shakespeare Festival in Boise, Idaho (since 1991) and Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival in Lake Tahoe, Nevada (since 2010). His appointments have resulted in a dynamic and groundbreaking producing model for the companies, in which 37 productions have been shared since 2002. In addition to his work with the companies in Ohio, Idaho and Nevada, Charles is active within the community. He has served as a member of the strategic planning committee for the Morrison Center, as producer of the FUNDSY Award Gala (’96, ’98 and 2000), and as producer of the 1996 Idaho Governor’s Awards in the Arts. Charles has served on the board of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce and as a member of the Downtown Rotary Club. He received his B.A. from the University of the Pacific and master of fine arts from the University of California, San Diego.

Duration: 24:15
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Piama Habibullah is the Online Producer + Communications Manager at EmcArts, creating media content and increasing social media reach for EmcArts and ArtsFwd.org, an online platform for arts leaders to learn and share stories about adaptive change and the power of effective innovation.

  • In his judgment of participatory performance, Charles Fee states: “It’s no longer a truly aesthetic experience because the aesthetic distance has been completely shattered, and now you are in the piece of art.”

    Just because an audience becomes part of the art doesn’t mean they can’t assess the art. What better way to consider art than by immersing one’s self in it? Ann Hamilton engaged her audience in “the event of a thread” at the Park Avenue Armory, and the aesthetic emerged because of the audience. Diane Paulus changed how the American Repertory Theater’s audience connects with “The Donkey Show” and “Sleep No More.” The audience will debate the work afterward just as they do non-participatory art.

    Granted, not everyone desires participatory art, but one can enhance aesthetic perspective through audience immersion. Distancing the audience doesn’t make it a truer aesthetic experience; it simply makes it a less connected one.

    http://www.armoryonpark.org/programs_events/detail/ann_hamilton
    http://www.americanrepertorytheater.org/