Tag Archives | Kevin Purcell Conductor

How These Reports Confirm Some Unfortunate Truths

Percentage_DigitalWith four operas to learn for work later this year and upcoming concerts, I wasn’t planning to write another post this month, but two disjunct articles I read this week captured my attention if only because they confirmed what is known, but often pushed under the metaphorical carpet due to their indigestiblity in the classical music industry.

The first is an excellent piece from Arts Professional (22 February) entitled ‘Senior arts staff sidelining digital work, research finds’. In summary, the piece finds that digital skills are spread thin in cultural organisations with only one in six of those in the most senior strategic roles identifying web or digital activity as forming a part of their work.

Citing the ArtsPay 2018 survey, senior strategic role employees in cultural organisations have correspondingly less connection with digital and web initiatives than early and mid-career level employees – and the latter’s efforts, collectively, representing on average only 33.5% of total work responsibilities.

The survey further found that only 6% of cultural organisation employees are primarily concerned with developing work across all digital platforms. The findings align with those of a 2017 Nesta survey, in which only 19% of respondents were confident that most of their senior management were knowledgeable about digital technologies, and only 16% were clear that coming up with new digital ideas was a priority for the senior team [Italics mine].

So what do senior strategic roles spend their time doing.  Here’s the graph:

Senior_Staff_Work

Keeping in mind the above, here are the statistics that really matter [Italics mine]:

The majority of digital activity is taking place in marketing departments. 74% of respondents for whom marketing is the main focus of their role said their work included web/digital activity – a proportion that holds true across early career, mid-level and senior marketing roles. This is also consistent with Nesta’s 2017 research, which found that the most advanced digital skills in arts organisations are in marketing.

What is critical about this?  Observedly, less than a quarter (24%) of those whose primary roles were in artistic direction, programming or curation said web/digital formed a part of their work.

Why is this so important to highlight?  Given the way that millenials and post-millenials engage with myriad options across the cultural sector (if they do at all) the focus of what they see is about selling – as opposed to curating content to engage them toward converting them to accepting the ‘selling’ proposition. Continue Reading →

Changes To This Website

Big_Change2019 is likely to be a watershed year for many people in the orchestra world. The industry has been positioning itself for several years now to be prepared, at least partly, for the seismic changes to event curatorship and diverging patterns of audience take-up for Classical Music and Opera.

Orchestras and Opera companies are struggling.  This is an established fact for significant numbers of organisations around the world, not the least in Australia. There is very low audience retention and new audience capture for these increasingly arcane artforms as perceived by the post-Boomer generations.  There is a tipping point for where existing audiences and no new audiences change the balance in perceived wisdoms about how the live concert classical music business can be sustainably maintained.

This tipping point is likely to be felt first as a tremor and then more harmfully beginning in 2019-20.  At least that is my prediction.

So, I have decided that we should similarly make further concerted and focused changes to this website from early in 2019.  I’ve also decided that it would be beneficial to cross-reference more of my work with the Australian Discovery Orchestra here as well moving forward.

This has meant abandoning some approaches to information on this site we have previously always provided to help other conductors, composers and musicians in general, in favour of highlighting how some of the more seismic events referred to above can be used by orchestras and performing arts organisations to their advantage – and hopefully ameliorate some of the challenges we will all be facing.

I wish everyone joyous and peaceful Season’s Greetings.  See you next year.

Kevin

Feliz Navidad & A New Year Resolution

NYC_SkylineWhilst being privileged to take my son up to the top of The Empire State building in NYC the other day, I was watching the late afternoon sun sparkle on the water looking downtown toward the Statue of Liberty.  I was struck by the observation that, in that fleeting moment, all the elements were lining up for a fabulous photo; one simply having to wait for that moment when the effects of light and water intermingled to give the optimal photographic result.

Synonymously, it reminds me of the methodology of rehearsing orchestras to elicit the best performance. Making performances is little different to en plein air painting wherein the canvas objects are subject to shifting light densities.  Timing when to put the artist’s brush to the canvas is key to the artform – and what an artform!  For orchestral conductors, the deft touch needed to paint using the inestimable skill of orchestral players to achieve the perfect result is very difficult indeed.  Too often, as conductors, we fail subsequently asking the orchestra musicians to come back tomorrow whilst we practise our artistic insights over again.

My favorite conducting experiences this year have been with the Australian Discovery Orchestra for live-stream concerts.  My least favorite experiences – conducting university orchestras of varying abilities in the USA.  Someone questioned me recently why I found these student-level orchestras an unenviable proposition to work with, assuming my answer would in all likelihood be about the respective orchestras’ technical shortcomings. But that isn’t the problem. Continue Reading →

Kevin is Recuperating

Kevin_Purcell_ConductorHello Everyone,

Just a quick note to let everyone know that Kevin is recuperating well from surgery and will likely return to activity on this site in the next few weeks.  Kevin sends his heartfelt thanks to everyone from around the world who has asked after him.

Stay tuned.