Read tonight an article (NY Times, registration required) about Lincoln Center’s push for a larger audience, which stung me a bit.

While Lincoln Center’s main attraction is still its artistic content, Mr. Levy argues that the performances alone are not sufficient to attract today’s audiences (emphasis added). “That sufficiency is the environment we create, the barriers we break down in the sense that Lincoln Center is open and accessible to those of all income classes from all over the city and the country,” he said.

While I can certainly agree with the sentiment and the need to expand one’s audience, does that require our turning our arts centers into baseball stadiums, complete with trendy restaurants, a playground for the kids, and fireworks during intermission? (Sorry, Warner…)

…two installations of public art were planned for this summer: “Big Pleasure Point,” an assemblage of brightly colored boats by Nancy Rubins on view on the plaza, and “Enlightenment,” a digital reworking of the last movement of the “Jupiter’’ Symphony, timed to the opening of the Mostly Mozart festival on Friday.

I have to feel that trying to out-glitter, out-color or out-tech the wash of modern distractions only dooms us to failure. The performing arts are never going to be as glittery as American Idol, as gaudy as Hollywood, as trendy as MTV/iTunes/MySpace/next-music-distribution-hotspot. And with such distracting competition, does it serve anyone for us to try?

Or instead, should the arts remain the calm outside the storm? And should our arts centers, instead of shouting “look at me”, search instead for ways to say “welcome”?

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