"And the beat goes on.................................."
Meetings with Outcomes or "Let's Actually Do Something Already":
A couple of weeks ago I suggested that we really ought to convene several national summit meetings to address specific issues - from getting every state to launch a political action committee to establishment of a coherent national research agenda to cooperatively creating the framework for collaborative leveraging of our numbers to achieve the benefits of economy of scale.
I've been thinking about that and what we do (or don't do) when we gather. A recent entry from Thomas Cott's blog -You've Cott Mail - on arts conferences echoed some of what I have been feeling for a long time. (BTW - if you aren't familiar with his You've Cott Mail blog - he curates - on a DAILY basis - thematic entries on a given subject. The amount of work it takes to do what he does is mind boggling. Perhaps only Doug McLennan's Arts Journal is more ambitious. I've been meaning to plug him for a long time. You really should subscribe to Clott's blog. I am a huge fan. While every posting may not interest you, I guarantee you that you will find much to stimulate your thinking over the course of a month. This is one of my favorite blogs.)
Anyway, the first entry in Cott's Friday, January 6th blog was a comment from Eleanor Turney in the UK Guardian: She writes:
"A group of like-minded people gathered in one place could put serious weight behind something and make a practical difference. However, many of the recent [arts conferences] I've attended have not taken advantage of this fact. These events have, at best, been a showcase of great work without much other content and, at worst, been mutual commiserating or back-scratching. I know big conversations happen, around the country, daily. Arts organisations are innovating, taking risks, finding new methods and partners for collaboration. So why doesn't this creative, intelligent, forward-thinking attitude translate into organising good conferences?"For the most part, I enjoy the national arts conferences. I attend several each year, and have had the pleasure to blog on many of them. For me, as for many of those who have been doing this as long, or longer than I have, the chief benefit of these gathering is to network; to connect with old colleagues I haven't seen for awhile, and to meet new people. I think there is great value in this even though I lament that more people cannot attend, that the days are mercilessly crammed with way too many sessions and activities, and that most of the content of these gatherings is not very useful. The exchange of ideas that goes on between sessions and at the social events is really the most valuable part. That is where the real ideas are happening.