Curate your space with commitment
Audiences have become a fundamental component of our experiences. Without a crowd, there is no motivation to curate spaces or events. Concepts stay concepts without engagement. Events barely get traction. And the presence of talent goes unnoticed.
People now curate their space ahead of time to ensure a crowd shows up. Instead of hoping social media or flyers have worked enough for attendance, people have opted for guarantee over assumption when it comes to knowing their audience.
There are a few collectives trying to break this mould and ask audiences to commit in alternative ways. These are people who have no need to use their resources without certainty that people will attend. And why should they? We are all aware of how small the portion of revenue or credit that goes to the organiser or host behind these visions, so why even try. Emerging communities are altering people’s mindsets by approaching people new ideas. There is activity within secret gigs with exclusive guest lists, as well as events that need a certain amount of pledges to make it come to life.
Our virtual selves join a handful of meetup gatherings, artistic expressions and live assemblies of emerging music, but we often switch paths at the last minute and don’t attend. Our commitment levels go as far as scrolling down our social media feeds to let it unfold or update us from behind the screen, but we can’t give our time to something or someone who worked hard to create it.
This is changing. It’s because the brainpower of these collectives are choosing to get to know their audiences. Intrigue is on the table to offer, and their giveaway is exclusivity. People are nearing the end of one form of entertainment and entering into another one, a more intimate foreword into our general way of being. What we are confronting now is a new age of connectivity, where people are seeing themselves choose smaller, more familiar platforms of exchange in interpersonal spaces. Gaining definition in the experience by the stage in front of you and the strangers beside you, popup secret spaces are evolving by hosting onceoff moments, experiences and highlights into the minds, voices and instruments of emerging talent.
One of these portals who have managed to sync with a growing audience is ‘Sofar – Songs From A Room’. Based in 196 cities across the world, with a strong local influence and presence in South Africa, this community sets up free, intimate and unplugged gigs by emerging artists. A key element of secrecy comes from the fact that the venue is revealed only a couple of hours before the show. How it works is simple. Invitations are sent out to those who sign up to a mailing list, and they get preference. All that is requested of them is to rsvp and the first however many people they have planned for, will be fortunate to attend the network of live music sets. Often partnering up hosts and musicians at random, the communities who run these sessions volunteer their services and time to make these pairings happen. Commitment is a value that needs to be evaluated here. Because people essentially become part of a waiting list to attend, if your place is booked, you need to plan ahead. In these equations, the audience also become participators by engaging with the community who organise, register and document the session throughout the process, so its content can live online therefore encouraging people to be drawn into these unique experiences.
What I have realised is this: the commitment lies on both parts, one to make a spectacular event that can’t compare with anything in its subsection of arts, (pretty much show how great a secret gig is) and two, to show up. This ever growing international group of communities have in essence crowd sourced their audience by offering them something unusual and significant.
City Soiree, another domain completely dedicated to getting people to interact, listen and observe emerging art forms is crowdsourcing by the way of the pledge. They connect the crowd/fan to the artist by seeing how committed they are to be in that specific presence. In detail, they are creating a target as little as 30 pledges to an event before making it possible. It differs to Sofar as it is requesting you to pay, but that adds even more significance as we are choosing to support the act before time, instead of doing it late notice without congruent thoughts ahead of you. Selecting unique, specialised and rare artists to host, City Soiree is the believer of the loyalty pact with audiences. They know what works and always get the pledges in order for it to take on its own life form. People manage to book months ahead to watch popular international acts brought out by Seed Experiences and Big Concerts, why are there not more smaller collectives expecting the same for the local community?
In order for these concepts to thrive, we need to make our future timelines something to look forward to, even if we live on the hype alone. We need to conquer the duality of the virtual being versus the genuine experience. Dialogue is what remedies these communities, and certainly we are drawn to them because of our curiosity. So we need to embrace the rarities as they emerge, because we make up the audience. This means switching off our screens and immersing ourselves in a new subculture that requests your commitment to support the arts instead of just being interested in it. Collectively, we all make up the audiences we want to be part of, so take that pledge, pay upfront or register online. It’s all part of a bigger cause, and we can spread its ideas just by showing up.