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II. Complications set in. With more than 150 member organizations, the folks at the Performing Arts League know their issues full well. About 200 arts leaders showed up for its annual meeting at North Park’s Birch Theatre last week, compared with 50 last year. Kevin Chaisson, PAL’s president, told them that the League will lead the arts community through a strategic planning process over the next year.
Building audience is on the top of the list. Still, audiences can get lost with an arts schedule like the one in January. How does this happen? It’s complicated.
In October, I went to a splendid performance by the Claremont Trio in La Jolla Music Society’s Discovery series. The trio personifies what’s happening in art music today: young, brilliant, well-trained, passionate players bringing their generation’s energy into performances.
To my surprise, the Claremont faced rows and rows of empty seats in Sherwood Auditorium. When I asked the Society’s new president Christopher Beach where the audience was, he told me that subscribers had bought the seats, but that evening they were attending the Symphony’s opening gala.
Booking is very tricky. The arts have no central schedule, like sports. San Diego groups do try to avoid scheduling conflicts, even given the sheer number of performances. Booking visiting artists, however, is more difficult. They are free agents, and booking them depends on many variables: their schedules, when their tours reach our part of the country, fees, available venues, etc.
That explains the ebbs and flows of arts scheduling. Still, the crunch means that this month, both LJMS and ArtPower have been offering discount tickets for events like Woody Allen and his jazz band. Arts concerts have the same problems as pops, except in pop much of the disaffection is about lousy music and second-rate artists.