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Of Montreal: Id Engager December 10, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Conservatory of Music.
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Management and the Arts November 10, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Academy of Ballet, Conservatory of Music, English Department, Theatre Department.
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management-and-the-artsThis is essential reading for anyone who wants to be a modern arts producer. An easy-to-read, step-by-step guide to the business of producing art in America. The book offers a thorough foundation of business skills to shepherd any artist into the world of managing an organisation. At the same time, the author maintains a steady recognition of the art world’s glorious peculiarities. Art is not business, rather, business is the vehicle to deliver great art to great audiences. The book is splendidly interactive, with many real news clippings from exciting and relevant current events and a series of assignments for the reader to engage with the concepts.

As the American touchstone in this topic, the book espouses the American system of arts administration, which, like it or not, has pervaded large arts organisations around the world. There is little time spent on those peculiar arts companies from other countries that stray from the American model.

It’s Easy Being Green: Hydro Connect shows going green can be cost effective November 10, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Conservatory of Music.
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hydro-map001Introduction

Due to increased awareness of global warming in the Twenty-First Century, the theories and practices of sustainable living have achieved exponential growth in Great Britain. Environmentally Friendly Practices (EFPs) include the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle), alternative energy (solar, wind, water), and the overarching goal of going Carbon Neutral (eliminating or offsetting carbon dioxide emissions) in order to better maintain our natural environment. (Brassington 2008)

EFPs are emerging in all industries, including the ever-shifting music industry, where, in 2007, DF Concerts launched Connect Festival at Inverary Castle, Argyle, a major music festival dedicated to carbon neutrality. (DF Concerts 2008)

As emerging festivals are increasingly committed to sustainability, Connect is learning the challenges and opportunities associated with going green. By mastering change management in the areas of transport, vendors and marketing, DF Concerts is finding that an environmentally sustainable music festival can also be economically sustainable.

Greener Strategies

Transport at large-scale music festivals presents a considerable customer-relations challenge. An attendee’s lasting impression can often be the long walk to the distant carpark, followed by an hour spent queuing in his/her car to get out. Likewise, transport is a music festival’s single largest contributor of carbon emissions. (Fennell 2008)

By smoothly marketing mass transport as an integral part of the Connect experience, DF Concerts CEO Geoff Ellis improved customer relations while cutting down significantly on pollution. When purchasing tickets, attendees were strongly encouraged to purchase a seat on a coach which would pick them up from one of 35 different locations and deliver them much closer to the actual staging area than the carpark. (Woolman 2008)

The consumer benefits of this scheme include cost savings (the price of the coach was less than the petrol required to drive to Connect), added freedom (the ability to eat and drink on the bus without worrying about driving and following directions to the remote location), increased safety (a professional driver navigates windy highland roads), and the opportunity to socialise. The positive feelings associated with the coach ride were so strong that passengers, consuming food and drink, meeting their fellow festival-goers and enjoying the highland scenery, maintained amiable notions of the festival organisation despite a two-hour bus delay.

The organisational benefits of the coach scheme include cost savings (fewer car-parks to maintain), organisational freedom (due to decreased traffic), greater insurance (less possibility of dangerous driving) and less pollution both in the air (carbon emissions) and on the ground (terrain disruption). Greener travel options, then, has created a happier experience for all stakeholders while providing cost savings.

In Ecotourism, sustainability measures not only environmental impact, but also impact on local economies and cultures. (ecotourism 2008) Connect provided Loch Fyne Oysters and Loch Fyne Whiskies prominent locations, superior facilities, and free publicity in all official marketing, thus emphasizing local product as a core element of the festival. Local vendors save funds on travel and shipping costs while using less carbon dioxide than vendor carts from out of town. Such a gesture endears Connect to the locals of Inverary, thus positively impacting the culture. By creating a strong, public relationship with the Duke of Argyle, Ellis cemented Connect’s bond with the local culture. (DF Concerts 2008)

A legitimate carbon neutral policy does wonders for an organisation’s public image. In patronising Connect, attendees feel they are supporting sustainable living and making the world a better place. They achieve self-actualisation, what Abraham Maslow coined in 1943 as the greatest in his hierarchy of human needs and that which arts managers have since adopted as a cornerstone in arts marketing. (Byrnes 2003) Indeed, green self-actualisation drives all stakeholders to support Connect: consumers to attend, staff to work hard, vendors to participate, sponsors to invest, government to support and even bands to perform (Radiohead now requires carbon neutral initiatives in their riders). (Fisher 2008)

The danger is that Connect’s feel-good image will be exposed as “greenwash,” or marketing which falsely paints an organisation green. (Brassington 2008) A rough comparative analysis shows that Connect uses far more EFPs than similar events, while recognising that carbon neutrality is difficult to measure and an often contested concept. Connect uses carbon offsetting, a process which some detractors categorise as greenwash, but which no less is a charitable investment on the part of DF Concerts.

Ellis has eschewed the greenwash threat with careful, honest marketing. Instead of over-promising unattainable green outcomes, he emphasizes the significant green inputs unique to Connect. He humbly confesses that “The greenest festival is the one that doesn’t happen, but at least you can try.” (Woolman 2008)

Perhaps Connect’s greenest outcome is the audience, who are constantly educated about how they can make a difference. In 2008, Connect became Hydro Connect after securing a lucrative sponsorship from Scottish Hydro, the UK’s leading supplier of green energy. The sponsor’s recognition online, in print and at the festival was carefully tailored to first educate consumers on green alternatives and second promote both Connect and Scottish Hydro. DF Concerts, whose flagship festival T in the Park is limited by a much more conservative sponsor, has been very creative with Scottish Hydro in maintaining a mature marketing plan aimed at their media-savvy, educated, humanitarian demographic.

Conclusion

Through innovative approaches to sponsorship, marketing, local product, transport, and other aspects too numerous to mention here, DF Concerts has exhibited effective change management in the organising of Connect Festival, proving that a major green festival is a feasible business venture. Connect has proven to be economically and environmentally sustainable, and can stand as an inspiration to others in the industry.

References

Burt, Kate. 2007. How one festival this summer will be getting into an eco-friendly groove. The Independent, May 17.

Byrnes, William J. 2003. Management and the Arts. 3rd Edition. Burlington: Elsevier Science.

Fisher, Alice. 2008. Hello Glastonbury! Are you ready to rock and recycle? The Observer, June 8, p.13.

Fennell, David. 2008. ecotourism. New York: Routledge.

Hasted, Nick. 2008. Going green on the festival scene. The Independent, March 7.

Woolman, Natalie. 2008. Hydro Connect Festival – Eco-friendly. The List, August 21.

DF Concerts. [online] Available from: http://www.dfconcerts.com [Accessed October 26, 2008]

Should UK Music Festival Organisers Implement Environmentally Friendly Practices into Event Management? 2008. A Greener Festival. [online] Buckingham Chilterns University College. Available from: http://www.agreenerfestival.com. [Accessed October 26, 2008]. Figure 1: Grow your own! Connect sees the flowering of three organic initiatives.

Can’t Smile Without You October 26, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Conservatory of Music, Theatre Department.
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51sb307j62lThe incredible Barry Manilow musical hit the Edinburgh Festival Theatre last week. Starring Chesney Hawkes, and two other reality television stars, this was an evening of good old-fashioned, no-pretenses showbiz schmaltz. And it was fun. With an audience made completely of middle-aged women singing along, what’s not to enjoy?

Calexico September 26, 2008

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Yeah! Talk about some good old fashioned 90’s Southwest Indie Americana. Calexico was spectacular the other night at The Queens Hall. So good, in fact, that at times you almost forget that Britney Spears ever existed and instead fall under the impression that grunge rock is still on the radio, people care about global warming, Clinton is the prez, and it’s still cool to go to a liberal art college and major in philosophy (I don’t think it is anymore… aren’t “Media Studies” and “International Affairs” the new hip majors?).

Calexico brings us a Mexican American subculture of cheap tacos in dark cafes and old cadillacs lingering around back alleys. Combine this with lost, hip adults lurking around Tucson coffeeshops and railing against the government (remember that movie The Tao of Steve? People like that), and you’ve got Calexico–a welcome injection of grassroots international diplomacy from the days before “neocons.”

Oh, did I mention that they can play? They are gnarly musicians and come with a full band, launching into retro 50’s noir or upbeat mariachi.

Great show!

Hello Dolly! March 5, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Conservatory of Music, Theatre Department.
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hellodolly.jpgThis review of Hello Dolly! at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre is contributed here by a special guest writer to Goldblatt University, Dr. Joe Jeff Goldblatt, CSEP.

I saw the most wonderful production of Hello Dolly on saturday! It had a cast of 40 and a 10 piece orchestra that sounded like 30! The show a was at the Festival Theatre down the street from our home. This is a 100 year old theater and of course, gorgeous inside. It was a west end cast and starred Anita Dobson who is a big tv star here from the show Eastenders. She portrayed Dolly with a thick Yonkers accent as did the rest of the cast. The show began with a the curtain raised and a street scene of Yonkers and a marquee that announced “Hello Dolly” As the show began, the marquee sign flew out and the cast streamed in including a full size train carrying Dolly. During the “Parade” number the director brought in local children in victorian costumes and they ran down the theatre aisles with helium baloons and stood in front of the stage as spectators watching a parade. And during the final notes of the number he fired confetti cannons (arcade large format) over the audience. Although it was a matinee audience of mostly seniors, they roared with approval and I thought of YOU NOW WHO!

The waiters number was to die for! Such dancing I have never seen even in NYC. The only weak part was Dolly’s entrance. She wore a goregous gold gown with a black boa and black goves. The black look put a funeral pall on what is generally a joyous highlight of the show. Shoot the costumer! The rest of the costumes were gorgeous and uniformly excellent.

The lighting was old fashioned broadway with follow spots for the principals and subtle mood lighting throughout. I was impressed that a show that is playing about 15 cities in mostly OLD theaters could have such sophisticated lighting. What was most remarkable was that this old chestnut appeared fresh and new. At the interval I went to the bar and was humming a song when a 30 something year old man asked, “Did you like it?” “Yes, I loved it!” He said, “Is this a recent show?” I told him it was 40 years old and the Wilder play was almost 100 years old. He said, “I am amazed because the ideas and lines are so relevant today.” I suggested, “that is why they call it a classic or a masterpiece of theater, just ask Mr. Shakespeare!” He nodded and said that it was his first time to see the show and could not believe what he had missed all these years. Ah, the magic of the theater!

So, next up is Half a Sixpence. I wonder how long I can afford this fun? My ticket cost 8 pounds (about 15 US dollars) and was in the top balcony. The top ticket price was 22 pounds (about 40 US dollars). I moved to the front row after the first act as there were plenty of seats. Will keep this up until I get caught! Today is mummies day (mothers day) in Scotland and Sam is taking his mother, girfriend and me to see Ballet North in a production of Midsummer Nights Dream on Wednesday of this week in the same theatre. The tickets cost a whopping 10 pounds!

The Second Shepherd’s Play December 20, 2007

Posted by goldblatt in Conservatory of Music, Theatre Department.
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ph2007121702119.jpg

Terrific production of The Second Shepherd’s Play, a medieval mystery play, at Folger Theatre. This play was originally staged as a sort of secular/sacred christmastime pageant in England. There are tons of these, but this one is particularly interesting because of its intricate plot and terrificly complex treatment of Christianity and Christmas.

The production treats the original text in a very respectful manner, fashioning an engaging and entertaining piece of theatre without changing the time, context, etc. Terrific puppets from Aaron Cromie. Holly Twyford is great. Good lighting. Great incorporation of early music. So great that the Folger Consort presented this as part of their season–it was a risk that paid off! Great tunes, good fun.

Chinese Translation by M. Ward November 16, 2007

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Break of Day October 3, 2007

Posted by goldblatt in Conservatory of Music.
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i promised this would not be a personal blog with diary entries and all that shizzle, but occasionally the worlds of life and art merge and i can’t help noting that someone has YouTubed me! Apparantly someone was delusional enough to think that me and my buddy Lane are webworthy. My buddy Lane Pianta is a really talented guitarist and great fun to jam with. I don’t practice nearly enough and I sound like it. Actually I practice so little that I got blisters from playing so much with Lane. I put on bandaids, bled through them, and put on more bandaids over them just to make it through this little gig at Arts On Foot. So, go ahead and laugh away at our amateur hour, but you have to admit that we were having fun. We only practiced a handful of times and only played this song like 4 times before this little performance. Lane wrote the song and it’s called Break of Day.

The New Season September 9, 2007

Posted by goldblatt in Academy of Ballet, Conservatory of Music, Film School, Theatre Department.
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The New York Times came out with their orgasm-enducing preview of the 07-08 season in film, theatre, dance, music, art, and other stuff today. For those of us obsessed with the world of ideas, this is a titilating annual event. Without further ado, I give you my own run down of what I am looking forward to this year in the world of high, high art.

Bruce Springsteen’s new album with the E Street Band. He’s been doing great solo stuff lately, so this return to form with the old crew should be decent, if nothing else. Bruce is hot right now.

American Ballet Theatre’s World Premiere ballet inspired by Philip Glass’ musical portrait of his buddy visual artist Chuck Close. Both guys have words for their last names, that’s how awesome they are. Choreography by Jorma Elo, who also has a cool name.

lear1450.jpgRoyal Shakespeare Company brings Ian McKellen to Brooklyn Academy of Music in Trevor Nunn’s productions of King Lear and The Seagull. Can someone say EVENT? Critics are saying that McKellen does not disappoint.

Debut season of Christopher Wheeldon’s Morphoses company at NY City Center. Hottest american ballet choreographer now starts his own company. audiences follow.

Herbie Hancock’s new tribute album to Joni Mitchell. Joni’s folk pop songs are so jazzy it hurts, and Herbie is just the guy to flesh out the jazz harmonies and embellish the rhythms.

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Mary Zimmerman’s new production of Lucia di Lammermoor at the Metropolitan Opera. Mary Zimmerman is funky fun, and I can’t wait to see what she does to this classic Italian opera.

Julie Taymor’s new Beatles musical movie, Across the Universe. What do I really need to say here? Eliot Goldenthal is doing kick ass re-interpretations of the songs using his favorite instrument, the glass harmonica. And based on the descriptions of the movie, it sounds like the new Hair, which is one of my favorite movies.

I’m not here, Todd Haynes’ filmic meditation on all things Bob Dylan. It sounds way far out, and way cool.