Perhaps it’s because I recently watched the space travel epic Interstellar while on a 10 hour flight from Istanbul to JFK, or perhaps it’s because I’m (slightly) over 50, or perhaps it’s because there is always a long “to do” list to work through, but I have been thinking a lot lately about time and how time is the most precious resource in our creative infrastructure. Think about it: there are ways to earn/raise/acquire more money and with more money you can hire more talented people. But time is fixed and finite, Interstellar not withstanding. The Internet has helped compress time, in a way, making it possible to collaborative across distance both synchronously and asynchronously. It has made the norms of time-based behavior more fluid (my students think nothing of emailing me at 2am and I don’t need to wait until the 6am delivery of a newspaper to read the day’s headlines). Yet, it still takes two minutes to brush my teeth and there are only 1440 minutes in a day.
Arts audiences experience time in a similarly finite way. When they purchase a ticket they not only exchange money, they are exchanging their time and attention for our artistic time and attention. Too often, especially as arts managers, we think primarily of the financial exchange that might occur between audience and artist/producer. Consider, too, that in addition to the cost of a ticket, your audience is spending their most precious resource, their time.