OPERA America CEO Marc Scorca says it's a delicate time for the arts. Performing arts groups today have to compete with on-demand electronic access to entertainment.
"I can click onto YouTube and look at fantastic video of important artists singing great opera excerpts. Yet our arts organizations only perform at certain times of day and only certain days of week. We only perform a certain repertoire that's selected by the artistic director. So we function in a different way than the arts and entertainment world on the internet and we have to compete with it."
Scorca says performing groups have to find ways of augmenting the concert-going experience. That's where groups have to know who to use the internet to their benefit.
"There's a lot that's now available on websites to enrich the attendance experience and to make the website an interesting place to go 24/7."
Houston Grand Opera General Director and CEO Antony Freud also serves on OPERA America. He recognizes the challenges of going beyond traditional presentations of the arts.
"It's not a matter of sitting in a hermetically sealed bubble looking inwards putting on great opera. Of course we have to put on great opera, that's at the heart of what we do. But having the resources that exist to do great opera, we also have to take that resource, that wonderful community of talent that constitutes Houston Grand Opera out of the opera house, into the community."
A weakening economy doesn't help matters. Freud says it puts all the more pressure on arts groups.
"All the more reason why we have to engage with our cities, with our communities. The more we can establish the relevance of the arts to the cities, the more central we will be in people's horizons and the more priority we will be in terms of people's spending and philanthropic giving."
OPERA America is looking to bring performing arts groups together to discuss the issues later this year in Colorado. More information on the National Performing Arts Convention can be found at KUHF.org. Capella Tucker, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.