Will live performance lose out to technology?

In a world where we can watch movies from the comfort of our own homes for pennies and assemble personalized soundtracks in a tool the size of our thumb, how likely is it people will continue to attend live theater and music? Not only must one contend with the price of tickets, but then there’s parking, babysitting, fighting traffic and the fact that the show might not be as great as hoped. With such odds stacked against them, it seems only inevitable that the performing arts will fade as instant entertainment continues to become more readily available.

Not so, says Ben Cameron, Arts Program Director at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation in New York. In this empassioned speech, Cameron points to the performing arts role in helping technology to succeed, and economies to thrive.

The performing arts are going to be more important to the economy as we move forward, especially in industries we can’t even imagine yet, just as they have been central to the ipod and the computer game industry, which few if any of us could have foreseen 10 to 15 years ago. Business leadership will depend more and more on emotional intelligence, the ability to listen deeply, to have empathy, to articulate change, to motivate others – the very capacities that the arts cultivate with every encounter.

Especially now, as we all must confront the fallacy of a market-only orientation uninformed by social conscience we must sieze and celebrate the power of the arts to shape our individual and national characters. …The arts, whatever they do, whenever they call us together, invite us to look at our fellow human being with generosity and curiosity. God knows if we have every needed that capacity in human history, we need it now.