"And the beat goes on..............."
Note: To all the boomers out there - Paul McCartney turns 75. If you haven't yet begun to stop and smell the roses, you might want to start soon. Time marches on. Ain't nobody getting any younger.
I posted a blog last month that considered the possible opportunity for the arts and for artists as retail space (and particularly Mall space) continues to open up as retailers face competition from online companies.
Now another reality brought about by high tech promises there may be even more urban space needing desperately to re-purpose itself, and which therefor may be an opportunity for the arts and artists.
An article in City Lab notes how automated cars and drones are likely to result in fewer cars and trucks on the road, and, as a consequence, make downtown parking lots unnecessary:
"Ian Siegel is a futurist. As founder and CEO for ZipRecruiter, the job-seeking site, he spends a lot of time thinking about what happens next in work. From his 11th-floor office in downtown Santa Monica, Siegel says, he can see seven different parking garages, each one capable of hosting north of 1,000 cars—none of which will be necessary in the future he foresees. “There’s an amazing amount of real estate that’s about to go underutilized,” Siegel says, “unless they find a way to repurpose it.”Siegel is backing one of the sunnier future transportation timelines: In his mind, the coming rise of autonomous vehicles (AVs), coupled with the takeoff of drone delivery, will leave our roads empty and our parking lots derelict."
And moving the reality of automated vehicles and drone delivery to scale may well not be that far in the future: Smart phones went from the drawing board to near ubiquitous global usage in less than a decade. Some predict that individuals will stop buying cars within five years and rely exclusively on the widespread availability of self-driving cars via uber and lyft type services on an as needed basis. I'm not sure people will so easily give up their love affair with their automobiles, but I suffer the biases of an older generation. I don't doubt a tech led paradigm shift in transportation is inevitable.
If the result is that these urban parking lots will have to be repurposed, it is unlikely retail stores will be the stand in. Like empty Malls, empty parking lots may well present the arts and artists with new possibilities for exhibition, performance and work spaces in urban settings. Of course, many such venues would be repurposed as living residences as that may be the most profitable re-use -- but not in all locations.
Who knows what other technological developments may positively or negatively impact the arts in the future. The only thing that is probably a certainty is that tech developments will impact us in profound ways. While it is impossible to predict what developments may be introduced, and exactly how they may impact us, as tech rolls out ever new innovations, there are usually clues and time to make some predictions. Thus, the near death of urban retail, and perhaps, parking spaces has only begun to happen. We still have time to react and do something if we deem it prudent, do-able and in our interests. And many of these opportunities will need to be acted on early.
What we need is to create some mechanism that will allow us to consider the introduction of tech developments, assess their potential (positive and negative) impacts on us, and make recommendations as to how to respond -- rather than wait until the last minute to act. We need, as a sector, to get in front of how tech changes our businesses and core vision, so we can react early on to maximize our options. What that mechanism would look like, or how it would be created and sustained, and by whom, are open questions we ought to think about. My own thought is that this is precisely the kind of thing an active NEA could and should effectively address. Absent their role, the sector needs to figure out how to address the issue.
Have a good week.