Performing Arts on Main Street

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Bluegrass band on sidewalkThe title “Performing Arts” often connotes high-brow images of luxury: tuxedo-clad conductor, formally dressed musicians, wealthy patrons, multi-million dollar concert hall, etc.

That aura of exclusivity ignores the myriad of activities that comfortably fit under the metaphorical “big tent” of performing arts (lower case) – both indoors and out. This week we’ll offer a more main-street perspective, inspired by the VenueConnect annual conference wrapping up today in Portland.

Conference Highlights. The Intl. Assoc. of Venue Mgrs. sponsors this annual event; IAVM represents “public assembly venues around the globe” including auditoriums, arenas, stadiums, performing arts centers and amphitheaters. Highlighted sessions included: executives from Live Nation Entertainment discussing concert promotions and revenue optimization; an agent/promoter panel; and a panel discussion on successfully managing reporting relationships to college/university, board or government entities.

Government entities might include state, province, county or city municipality, all of which support main-street performing arts to varying degrees, whether talent show at the local band shell, benefit concert for returning military veterans or craft beer festival in the town square. For these events, the audience wears casual attire – not tux and tails.

Boosting Quality of Life. These family-friendly, civic-minded performing arts events entertain citizens while also boosting their estimation of their local community and its quality of life. recently rated the 100-largest U.S. cities based on a variety of factors including recreation and entertainment facilities (including music venues per capita), parks quality/budget, and affordable entertainment. Cincinnati finished #1 in the overall ranking, with Orlando, Omaha, Minneapolis and Tampa rounding out the top five. (Trivia: Which city boasts the most music venues per capita? Scottsdale, Arizona!)

Bear Paw Festival 2011Enjoying Portland. The host city of VenueConnect ranks #17 overall in the list; when not helping staff Wenger’s booth last weekend, field sales manager Ron Probst didn’t have to go far to sample a variety of performing arts underway.

“From singing groups or individual musicians on sidewalks, to movies in the park to all the entertainment surrounding the Oregon Brewers Festival (OBF) this weekend, there were activities appealing to a broad spectrum of tourists and residents alike,” says Probst. OBF alone boasted five music stages, showcasing everything from blues and rock to movie themes and kids music.

Beyond the 80,000+ beer lovers sipping and quaffing 80+ varieties of craft brew, Probst also attributes Portland’s festive atmosphere to the nation’s economy gradual improving, increases in discretionary spending and lovely summertime weather.

What’s On Tap? What casual performing arts event says “summertime” most to you?

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