What outsiders think

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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?

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