Innovators abound! Two "new" events around town are garnering quite a bit of attention for their challenges to the traditional presenting/audience development paradigm. In these tough times, it's survivial of the fittest!
First, Literary Death Match puts the performative, competitive fun back in the staid reading series. I went last night to the 2nd NYC LDM at Housing Works Cafe. As an avid reading attender, I am often super dismayed by some authors' non-performance. It does a great disservice, I think, to hear some writers read their own words with little to no awareness that there is an audience. LDM turns the traditional reading on its end: In Round One: 4 authors read (under 5 minutes only!) against each other, (one against one, and another against another) and then a panel of 3 astute and sassy judges adjudicate their performances based on literary merit, performance style, plagiarism, hipness, form and other intangibles. The panel is as giddily performative as the authors. Round Two pits the Round One winners against each other in the Death Match finale: paper money is tossed from the ceiling of Housing Works symbolizing the "Book Advance Competition" - catch as much $$ as you can. Then in the final final finale: the authors are blindfolded and asked to catch fake $100 bills (with Mos Def on the currency). The winner is the one with the most $$. Last night it was the deadpan funny poet Tao Lin. He won a crown, a medal and, probably, alot of new readers.
As for appropriating this "model" to other arts: it's the traditional reading series model tweaked for the social networking generation with a desire for competition and judges. Expenses and Income? free space at Housing Works? (a venerable cafe/bookstore), no admission price but a suggested donation, beer/wine/food for sale (proceeds for Housing Works), and an afterparty at Pravda (no free booze but that would be asking alot). Impact: Authors get new audiences perhaps? Indie presses get new readers? Housing Works gets new patrons?
What could the dance world do that's similar? How about the theater folks?
Second: 60 x 60 Dance!
Read Thomas Cott's blog and I won't reinvent the wheel. He is one of my favorites and 60x60 is doing their darnedest to get new dance audiences and to reinvigorate the dance scene. Go go go.