Lincoln Center is one of the cornerstones of New York City’s culture, consisting of a campus of 11 organizations focused on music, dance and theatre. Together, they bring thousands of performances to life each year.
Arts Management Magazine: What’s the key to managing the great artist?
Jed Bernstein: Passion is a huge thing. Like being able to say to an artist, “Listen, my job as a manager is to provide you with the resources, whether it’s financial or circumstantial or emotional, so you can make the greatest art you can.” And I think as an artist, that’s a pretty irresistible proposition. “Okay. So your job is to allow me to do my best work. It sounds pretty good.”
AMM: We’re now in a mobile and a digital world. How is that changing the arts?
JB: It’s a really excellent question. For these traditional arts, they are counter – cultural. It’s not about downloading onto small screens, it’s about experiencing it in big buildings and that’s something we’re going to have to wrestle with in the years going forward as the 20-somethings and 30-somethings grow up and would be our natural audience for some of these arts. They’re not coming with the same set of experiences and expectations that their mothers and fathers came with. So how do we engage? We want to live in a world where there will always be Beethoven. But if nobody is listening to him, then I’m not sure that’s a good world either.
AMM: What is the plan for bringing Lincoln Center to new, and younger audiences?
JB: Lincoln Center’s mission is Great Art for All. That means ensuring that the world’s best performing arts are available to everyone, regardless of age, race, or socioeconomic background. It also means embracing a future in which those incredible masterpieces are accessible anywhere—whether it’s online, on television, at the movies, in schools and libraries, or right here at Lincoln Center.
Families are priority for us as children also deserve the best in the performing arts. As of May 2015, we have been inviting families to join our existing donor-based LC Kids program for free (and there are various membership levels above this), enabling a broader and more diverse audience to receive front-and-center access to Lincoln Center. The results have been inspiring. As of now we have enrolled over 3,000 members. With up to four members enrolled per family, this equals thousands of kids getting their first taste of the arts through Lincoln Center.
AMM: How can technology help us reach people around the globe, and what has the success of the Met’s live simulcasts shown us in how the performing arts can be experienced?
JB: Technology is, without question, the single most influential tool for Lincoln Center to embrace as we pursue our goal of creating a worldwide arts community and expanding patrons’ access both on and away from campus. In the past 12 months, our digital initiatives have expanded at a breathtaking pace – securing Lincoln Center’s position as an arts organization of the future.
We recently launched a new website for all 11 resident organizations at LincolnCenter.org. Today, the website is more attractive, intuitive, and user-friendly; you can easily learn about everything taking place on our campus, purchase tickets, and join membership groups. It’s also mobile-friendly, so you can access all of this incredible arts content on-the-go. Our digital initiatives are generously supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Kovner Foundation.
Inspired by the Metropolitan Opera’s big-screen success with Live in HD, we launched Lincoln Center at the Movies this September. For the premiere season, Great American Dance, live recordings of four of the nation’s top dance companies—New York City Ballet, Ballet Hispanico, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and the San Francisco Ballet— were broadcast to over 500 movie theaters nationwide. This year it will reach an additional 600 cinemas internationally.
AMM: In 1956 Lincoln Center was founded as the grandest experiment of bringing multiple arts venues into one central location, which was part of the business of urban renewal. In 1962 Arts Management was founded in efforts to better understand the relationship between business and the arts. How has the relationship between business and the arts changed in what Arts Management founder and “Future Shock” visionary, Alvin Toffler, foresaw as this new age of information and technology?
JB: Arts and culture are good for business. No place epitomizes economic driving power of the arts quite like New York City. From generating tourism to creating jobs, the city both supports and benefits from its vast cultural wealth. This isn’t only a fantastic boon to performing arts institutions like Lincoln Center; it grows business for a variety of local industries. And there’s plenty of room to grow for corporations who haven’t yet begun taking full advantage of the mutually beneficial relationship that’s possible between the arts and areas like business, education, government, science, technology, and more.
For example, a strong cultural landscape is attractive to prospective employees in all sectors who are increasingly seeking opportunities for a rich and fulfilling life outside of work. Communities with museums, music halls, and theaters speak to the ideal of work-life balance. In today’s competitive global recruitment practices, such factors can’t be overlooked.
When it comes to quality of life, people look to a region’s cultural vibrancy for more than entertainment. A community’s emphasis on the arts, for example, will be reflected in its successful school systems. Compelling research shows that children who are exposed to the arts both in their educational setting and at home with their families do better in school. The core values of the arts—including imagination, collaboration, and perseverance—can lead to more effective problem solving across all sectors. We can better prepare students for their academic and professional lives by training them to think like artists. And when it’s time, we can deliver them into a thriving economy and enriched professional sphere by building the arts into the center of our day-to-day lives.