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Annals of Marketing
The Art of Marketing the Arts
Friday, 14th January, 2011  - David Farmer

Marketing of the arts tosses up many interesting ideas. The purpose after all is very simple; how do you keep pulling in the crowds. It is perhaps harder if the work has been around forever as this requires novel, even drastic approaches. Thus theatre, operas and the like are constantly being produced in different ways, often to the dismay of traditionalists. They are excellent examples of re-branding and as such are included in our marketing annals.

Here are two examples:

Megalomaniacal Director Sellars Dumbs Down 'Othello': Review Sept 28th, 2009 by John Simon

"I have long denounced his depredations on the theater, but what he has concocted in New York with "Othello" -- as coproduced by Oskar Eustis of the Public Theatre (who thinks him a genius), and the LAByrinth Theater Company (perhaps the most obnoxious in town) -- offends Shakespeare, common sense and decency.

"Hoffman's potbellied Iago wears a poison-green shirt, dark baggy pants and no evidence of military rank. Like some others in the cast, he speaks mostly sotto voce when not shouting at the top of his lungs. As Desdemona, there is Jessica Chastain, an actress of sour countenance, small and squeaky voice and a total lack of femininity. What with some sort of spotty miking, which can be tonitruous or inaudible, she, like the others, is often unintelligible."

And the re-branding of opera.

The Abduction of Opera City Journal, 2007, by Heather Mac Donald

"Welcome to Regietheater (German for "director’s theater"), the style of opera direction now prevalent in Europe. Regietheater embodies the belief that a director’s interpretation of an opera is as important as what the composer intended, if not more so. By an odd coincidence, many cutting-edge directors working in Europe today just happen to discover the identical lode of sex, violence, and opportunity for hackneyed political "critique" in operas ranging from the early Baroque era to that of late Romanticism."

And later

"The reign of Regietheater in Europe is one of the most depressing artistic developments of our time; it suggests a culture that cannot tolerate its own legacy of beauty and nobility. Singers, orchestra members, and conductors know how shameful the most self-indulgent opera productions are, and yet they are powerless to stop them. Buoyed with government subsidies, and maintained by an informal alliance of government-appointed arts bureaucrats and critics, the phenomenon thrives, even when audiences stay away in disgust."

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