How Technology is Changing the Arts

The arts field must better leverage technology to stay relevant. Artists are exploring technology as an art form in itself. Arts organizations are now in competition with everyone from audiences to tech companies. Arts administrators that adopt a maker approach will be more likely to succeed.

These are the insights I shared at SXSW this year, along with close to 100 case studies of the technology disrupting the arts field, and how the arts are responding to new

  • Social Interactions
  • Multi(tasking) Media
  • Devices
  • Learning Models
  • Co-Creation
  • Data
  • Interactive Objects

Watch the full video.

Or download the slides.


In response to the internet about why “We Should Allow Failing Arts Organizations to Die”

From a fairly innocuous comment I made at Dinnervention, to an only somewhat well-attended breakout session I co-lead at AFTA last month, to a blog post that only a handful of people read, to the email newsletter that touched off a social media firestorm, it seems that “We Should Allow Failing Arts Organizations to Die” has touched a nerve within our industry. …

A debate that began (for me) nine months ago, finally gets real at #aftacon.

The following is the text from a debate I participated in at the Americans for the Arts annual conference in Nashville.

Agree or disagree: we should let arts organizations that don’t adapt die.

Arts organizations are already dying. In Detroit, in New York City, in the UK. From operas to art galleries. This is no longer an urban versus rural debate. A nonprofit versus for profit debate. A “one discipline is dying” but “others are inexplicably thriving” debate.

This is a simple acknowledgement that the industry represented by the people and organizations in this room, is in decline. And I think that not only should we allow it, we should encourage it.

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Djerassi Resident Artist Program / @devonvsmith

Post-Dessert Reflections from Dinnervention

BREAKING: the Arts Dinner-vention Party did not reach consensus on how to build a movement for the arts, nor how to save the (institutional) arts (organizations). We did discuss, debate, and disagree on a far range of topics: whether we want to be more like co-ops or soup kitchens, if arts orgs as community centers strays too far from our mission, how to hold arts administrators accountable, who will be our growth hackers, if death panels for the weakest (organizations) among us are really a good idea, and what our minimally viable products will be, among many others. The only…

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In about 2 hours, this year’s Sundance Film Festival award winners will be announced. In the past week, there’s been over 35,000 tweets with the #sundance hashtag; more than 40,000 people “talking about” Sundance films on the films’ Facebook page or on the official Sundance Facebook page; 1,300 people have checked in on Foursquare at one of the Park City theatre venues; and nearly 4,000 photos have been tagged #Sundance on Instagram.

Will this social media buzz be any indication of who’s going to win awards tonight? If it is, here’s what we should see:

US Documentary

  • The Invisible War…

Last year, I took an in-depth look at how Sundance feature films used social media during the Festival, and if social media was a good predictor of a film’s critical or financial success. With 9 days and counting until the 2012 Festival kicks off, I thought I’d take a look to see how films might be using social media differently this year. …

What’s working for arts organizations now? “Once someone likes us on Facebook, what do we do with them? How can we use Twitter to raise money? Can Foursquare really enhance the audience experience? How can Tumblr help us make sense of it all?” Yesterday’s half-day seminar, High Impact Social Media, supported by the Bloomberg Philanthropies arts advancement initiative and the DeVos Institute of Arts Management, attempted to answer just that by bringing together Gary Vaynerchuk (who, if you haven’t seen him, watched him, or read his books, you’re really missing out) and reps from the big 4 social media platforms…

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The Nonprofit Technology Conference uses crowdsourced voting (plus a panel of experts and NTEN staff) to determine which panels to host at their annual conference. As I was perusing and voting on panels myself this afternoon, I started thinking about the value of a single up vote or down vote, and how we might use math to model this user behavior.

Like that other technology conference I just blogged about, they saw a record number of panel submissions this year — about 450 for 100 or so total spots, and have changed up the voting process a bit from last…

Next week I’ll be speaking at Arizona State University’s p.a.v.e. program — the performing arts venture experience, one of the few arts incubators in the country. The program offers “arts entrepreneurship classes,” financial ($1-$5k), in-kind (space & materials), and other support (faculty mentors) for “student initiated arts based ventures,” and lots of speakers, workshops, and symposia open to the public. Any ASU student can apply to the program, typically in cross disciplinary groups of 3–5, and are incubated for 7 months. Funded projects can opt-in to allocating 5% of future revenues to the p.a.v.e. program, but so far most of…

Voting for SXSW 2012 ends this Friday, and I’ve been racing to scan through all 3, 278 submissions to try to find the gems, to find friends who are also proposing, to find some clue into the future of tech. I collected a bit of data during last year’s panelpicker process, but never got around to using it, so…tada! Last year was the first time that Interactive eclipsed Music, and there is much consternation every year that South-by has jumped the shark, has become too much about marketing, too many startups trying to launch. But this year the total number…

Devon Smith

PDX small business owner, statistics nerd, reluctant consultant, avid vagabond, arts & #nptech. Co-founder @measurecreative — strategy for progressive causes.

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