Imagine a prize competition to develop new experimental approaches to engaging audiences.
Imagine these two together.
The Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona (CCCB) has just launched a new biennial Cultural Innovation International Prize. The theme this year is "audiences." They are soliciting project proposals for innovative forms of audience engagement. The strongest proposals will be wholly original and theoretically grounded. The winner will receive 10,000 euro ($12,720 ish) and the potential to mount their project at the CCCB. Proposals are due by February 5, 2015. Full set of rules (in English) here.
CCCB is an incredible institution. They present gorgeous, challenging exhibitions. They host festivals that combine brunch with electronic music. They do research on literature, media, engagement, and serendipity. One of my favorite exhibition experiences ever was their moody, academic exhibition Through Labyrinths. It was itself a labyrinth. It built Borges and Eco in 3D. It was math. It was mystery. It was killer.
So you can imagine how honored I was when I was asked to be a member of the jury for this Cultural Innovation prize.
I asked the organizers at CCCB Lab about the choice of the word "Audiences" to describe the theme of the prize in English. In Spanish, they are using the word "Publico," which refers more broadly to public/s.
I'm personally more interested in how we engage with "publics" as opposed to "audiences." My colleagues in Barcelona suggested that in a European context, "audience" is less confusing. But she encouraged me (and you, if interested in applying) to substitute "public" if preferred.
Here is how they describe the challenge:
What do we refer to when we talk about audience/s in cultural centres, museums and similar spaces today? What does this concept mean at a time when the boundaries between the physical and virtual space are blurring, intermingling, or disappearing? Has there been a change in the traditional paradigm by which audiences followed, and at most participated in – always in a secondary role –, the projects organised by cultural centres and museums? What new models are currently being used in this field? What are the real needs of these new audiences? Are cultural centres and museums meeting them? What innovations could they implement to fulfill their mission? What changes are needed to face the challenge of audience/s in the next few years?As a juror, I'm not open to discussing particular project ideas. But I would love to see proposals that:
- translate forms of research or engagement from non-cultural fields into the cultural sphere
- attempt something that is impossible to imagine working today, but could provide a glimpse of one of many possible futures
- explore strangers, social bridging, and publics apart and together
- position experimentation not around its level of innovation or risk but its potential outcomes
- explore the history of what it meant to be an audience or a public in the arts hundreds of years ago
- imagine the long future of what it might mean hundreds of years from now
- play in the tricksy sandbox of people's "wants" and "needs"
- take full advantage of the depth, rigor, and experimentation of CCCB as a host
I can't wait to see what you dream up.