What outsiders think

April 29, 2008
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Conner Prairie landed its own four-page section in the current issue of Smithsonian magazine and, of course, the powers that be at the rustic landmark are thrilled.

In a press release, Brenda Myers, executive director of the Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau, is quoted as saying, “Recognition like a Smithsonian article not only helps Conner Prairie, it enhances the positive reputation of the entire central Indiana region.”

Hard to disagree. But I’d like to look a little wider. My question: How important is it for our arts and cultural products to be recognized outside of our borders?

What does it say if an Indianapolis Opera performance earns mention in a national art publication (three IO productions were reviewed in Opera News in 2007), or if a play at the Indiana Repertory Theatre is reviewed in Variety (which a quick search says hasn’t happened since “Les Trois Dumas” in 1998)?

Would the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra sound even better to you if you knew the New York Times critic loved it?

What does outside endorsement — or even notice — do for both the marketing and the art itself?

Your thoughts?
  • Outside notice is lovely. Congratulations to Conner Prairie! And to the Indianapolis Opera.

    Outside endorsement sometimes makes people take a closer look at what they have been ignoring, or at least taking for granted, in their own backyard.

    Some investors probably feel more confident investing in a local arts organization that has been nationally recognized.

    However, lack of outside endorsement doesn't necessarily mean that anything is wrong.

    Thousands of good books go unmentioned every year by the New York Times, for example.

    And at the unveiling of the IRT's 2008-2009 season in March, managing director Steven Stolen said that individual ticket sales were up and that the IRT's development department has already received $2 million from corporate sponsorships, individual donations, and assorted grants - more than ever before.

    He also said that through its education department, the IRT serves 60 of the Indiana's 92 counties. In my mind, that is much better than a Variety review.

    In any case, I would rather my local arts organizations continue to concentrate on making the best art they can, rather than losing sleep over whether or not they have been noticed by outsiders.

    _I_ am here. _I_ am paying attention. Make art for me.

    Hope Baugh
  • I was thrilled to see Conner Prairie in Smithsonian Magazine. Outside endorsements do matter. They put our local offerings into a larger context, letting us know that what we have here is good not only by our own standards, but by the standards of those who get around much more than do many Hoosiers. I can easily imagine someone who hasn't visited Conner Prairie hearing that it merited a Smithsonian Magazine article and thinking, Wow! I may be missing something. Let's go visit next weekend.

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  1. Only half a million TV Viewers? And thats an increase? I knew Indycar was struggling but I didn't know it was that bad. Hell, if NASCAR hits 5 Million viewers everyone starts freaking out saying its going down hill. It has a long way to before Indycar even hits NASCAR's bad days.

  2. IU has been talking that line for years with no real progress even with the last Dean, Dr. Brater. Why will an outsider, Dr. Hess, make a difference? With no proof of additional resources (cash in the bank), and a concrete plan to move an academic model that has been outdated for decades with a faculty complacent with tenure and inertia, I can count on IU to remain the same during the tenure of Dr. Hess. One ought to look to Purdue and Notre Dame for change and innovation. It is just too bad that both of those schools do not have their own medical school. Competition might wake up IU. My guess is, that even with those additions to our State, IU will remain in its own little world squandering our State's tax dollars. Why would any donor want to contribute to IU with its track record? What is its strategy to deal with the physician shortage for our State? New leadership will not be enough for us to expect any change.

  3. How do you think the Bridges got approved? I spent a couple days researching PAC's and individual contributions to some city council members during that time. My printouts were inches thick on the two I concentrated on. Finally gave up. Was disgusted with all the donations, and who they were from. Would have taken me days and days to compile a complete list. Tried to give it to the Star reporter, but he thought it was all just fine. (and apparently he was treated well himself) He ended up being laid off or fired though. And then of course, there was land donated to the dad's club, or city, as a partial payoff. All done in the shining example of "charity." No, none of these contributions are a coincidence.

  4. I agree what kind of help or if any will be there for Dr. Ley's patients. I was a patient myself.

  5. What about the hundreds of patients who sought this doctor for the right reasons, to quit drugs. what option do these patients now have, experience horrible withdrawl or return to heroin?? those are the choices. what about the children of these former addicts who's parent(s) WILL not b able to maintain their job, for @ least 2 weeks.. There needs to b an emergency clinic opened for these patients.