I wrote a few words about my curatorial philosophy for the good folks at Q2music. One point I didn’t have space to clarify:
I lead off by describing my philosophy as “artist-centric.” I mean this as opposed to what I’d call “audience-centric” curation, which is a totally valid approach and the one that makes sense in most cases. Audience-centric programming begins with the question, “what is the audience for my series and what will they enjoy or appreciate hearing?” Artist-centric programming begins with the question, “what opportunity can this series offer to artists that will yield interesting new work in our field?” The two are — I hope obviously — not at all mutually exclusive. And it’s only in major markets for new work, like New York City, that I think curators can take the somewhat indulgent step of assuming there will be an audience for the hopefully-interesting work that their curatorial philosophy helps foster. This also happens in spaces, and they can be anywhere, that for whatever reason don’t require much attendance to be deemed successful — they often offer a more “experimental” approach that gives artists more flexibility. These kinds of spaces are crucially important to the health of our artistic ecosystem and yet they are usually underfunded, temporary, and marginalized.
It’s worth saying that, in contrast to some of those spaces that I just mentioned, we do think about the audience quite a bit at the Ecstatic Music Festival. I have avoided booking certain shows because it just didn’t feel like we could get a sufficient crowd to our venue on the Upper West Side to justify the cost. Like everyone else, we have constraints, but I do think we do a good job of prioritizing artistic visions that we can support within those constraints.
Again, here’s that link if you want to read it. Thanks to the folks at Q2 for giving me the space to write!