Changing Arts Audiences: Capitalizing on Omnivorousness

October 14, 2005 - 12:15pm to 1:15pm

The Harris School of Public Policy Studies, 1155 E. 60th Street, Room 140C

A presentation and discussion with Richard A. Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Vanderbilt University

Baby Boomers are “cultural omnivores,” according to sociologist Richard A. Peterson. To them, serious art means the Beatles and B.B. King as much it does Beethoven and Bizet. With more choices and less time, they enjoy opera and classical music as occasional options amid a wide range of what they consider culture. They don’t associate supporting the fine arts with gaining elite status, a motivator that drove previous generations to the opera and symphony halls.

Peterson, a nationally known pioneer in cultural sociology, will discuss why fine arts organizations must understand how to reach beyond the traditional “highbrow univore” who disdains mass popular culture and market to the cultural omnivore. Following Peterson’s presentation, Betty G. Farrell, Professorial Lecturer, Division of the Social Sciences, and Associate Director of the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences, The University of Chicago, will serve as respondent.

Read Peterson’s working paper

About Richard Peterson: Author of numerous books and articles on the production and consumption of culture, cultural policy, and popular music, Peterson is founding chair of the Culture Section of the American Sociological Association. A pioneering contributor to the sociology of music, he has produced a body of work on cultural omnivorousness, a concept he introduced in his 1992 study with Albert Simkus, How Musical Tastes Mark Occupational Status Groups.

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