May 20, 2014 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Harris School of Public Policy
1155 E. 60th St.
Lynne Conner, cultural historian, playwright/director and Professor and Chair of the Theater and Dance Department at Colby College
Why don’t Americans talk about the serious arts? We talk about everything else that we consume, from food and wine to sports, television, games, and books. With the ongoing decline in arts attendance, would a culture of engaged arts talk cure what ails us? Offering material from her new book, Audience Engagement and the Role of Arts Talk in the Digital Era, Conner investigates what she terms “social interpretation”—audience-produced meaning making about the arts that occurs in/through public settings and mechanisms. Looking for clues in the active nature of the historical audience as well as in various contemporary participatory cultures, she focuses her argument on the powerful role that productive Arts Talk (live and digital) plays in engagement. Ultimately, Conner argues for a new era of arts appreciation championing a move beyond the one-way delivery system that characterizes meaning making in most of the discourse around the serious arts in contemporary America.
Lynne Conner is a cultural historian, playwright/director and Professor and Chair of the Theater and Dance Department at Colby College. Her current research interests are focused on studying the history and contemporary status of audience behavior. Publications include the books Audience Engagement and the Role of Arts Talk in the Digital Era,Pittsburgh in Stages: Two Hundred Years of Theater, Spreading the Gospel of the Modern Dance: Newspaper Dance Criticism in the United States, 1850-1935, In the Garden of Live Flowers, co-authored with Attilio Favorini, as well as a widely cited chapter in Engaging Art: The Next Great Transformation of America’s Cultural Life, co-edited by Steven J. Tepper and Bill Ivey. Conner has given scores of talks on topics in the cultural policy field, including keynote and panels lectures at the Salzburg Global Seminar, Toronto Creative Trust, National Performing Arts Convention, Wallace Foundation, International Society of Performing Arts Presenters, Boston Foundation/Massachusetts Cultural Council, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Southwest Arts Conference, Grantmakers in the Arts, Dance USA, and the American Symphony Orchestra League. She is the recipient of the 2002 David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award from the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival. Her blog, We the Audience: Lynne Conner at the Intersection of Live + Digital, appears weekly on ArtsJournal.com.