Alliance for the Arts Launches Apps for NYC Culture

And now for some non-Spider-Man news: Alliance for the Arts has launched a new iPhone and iTouch app that allows users to discover the whole breadth of cultural events taking place in their area.

The Alliance quite rightly touts the initiative as an attendance builder. After all, you can’t make it much easier for your average, super-wired citizen to find cultural offerings than by putting an easy-to-use — and free — app directly in their hands.

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What does the advent of this app mean for the universe? Well, for one thing, a rather clumsy paraphrase of Dorothy Parker: you can lead a person to culture but you can’t make him (or her) participate. (With a ton of apologies to those Parker fans out there.) Putting this another way, the apps challenge us to reconsider our assumptions about how cultural participation occurs in the first place. Certainly the apps do wonders by removing yet another obstacle to access. Not that anyone was sitting around hoping that cultural participation would be driven once again by folks reading newspaper listings, but now, for sure, there’s one less excuse for ignorance and inertia. All those people ambling through traffic, mesmerized by their fingertips — there’s no reason now they can’t know all about that concert downtown or the opening of that gallery or that dance piece in Brooklyn or whatever.

Then again, there is a reason if cultural offerings aren’t bleeping on people’s radars to begin with. In other words, part of the challenge is understanding the immensity of our society’s cultural menu. One chooses to take in that concert downtown or the opening of that gallery or that dance piece in Brooklyn or whatever. How you get your information is secondary to the initial impulse to experience it. As a community we have to sure that initial impulse is there. There is no shortage of studies about this, so obviously I’m being general. The point is, surely no one will argue that we can’t do a better job when it comes to encouraging people to make the arts a priority in their lives.

Courtesy of the Alliance’s Joe Harrell, here is the press release (slightly redacted for space). Now start downloading and telling everyone you know about it!

 

Alliance for the Arts Launches NYC ARTSApps
Free NYC ARTS iPhone App and the NYC ARTS Widget Builder

The Alliance for the Arts has launched NYC ARTSApps, a major initiative to increase attendance at organizations spanning the breadth of New York City’s cultural sector, from world-renowned institutions to lesser-known gems. Starting today, New Yorkers and visitors can download the free GPS-based NYC ARTS iPhone application in Apple’s App Store, and install the free NYC ARTS widget via NYC-ARTS.org.

The free NYC ARTS iPhone App is designed to transform the way New Yorkers spend their free time. It provides GPS-based functionality that allows users to “Find events nearby” wherever they are in New York City’s five boroughs, as well as search for events by category, neighborhood and organization.

The free NYC ARTS widget allows organizations and bloggers to install a calendar on their site that includes events in the next 30 days. The calendar can feature either a specific organization or a category, such as theater, music, history, discussions and more.

NYC ARTSApps builds on the Alliance’s strength as a leader in arts technology and its information system, NYC ARTS, which the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences selected as a 13th Annual Webby Award Honoree. These new services leverage NYC ARTS’ existing technological infrastructure, relationships with more than 900 cultural groups and a wide and varied user base who receive NYC ARTS information via its Web sites, e-mails, RSS feeds, and through social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

…NYC ARTSApps was designed and built by Something Digital, a dynamic technology services boutique…

 

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  • Thanks for the great coverage, Leonard! I’m curious what you’re getting at with this paragraph. Are you saying that we need to figure out how to tailor art that’s being created to people’s tastes? (Not quite, right?) By attempting to bringing the arts to the masses of iPhone addicts, I’m certainly hoping arts audiences are expanded, but I have no interest in altering the art that’s being created. Art isn’t as artful if it’s produced with appeal in mind, I’d think.

    “Then again, there is a reason if cultural offerings aren’t bleeping on people’s radars to begin with. In other words, part of the challenge is understanding the immensity of our society’s cultural menu. One chooses to take in that concert downtown or the opening of that gallery or that dance piece in Brooklyn or whatever. How you get your information is secondary to the initial impulse to experience it. As a community we have to sure that initial impulse is there. There is no shortage of studies about this, so obviously I’m being general. The point is, surely no one will argue that we can’t do a better job when it comes to encouraging people to make the arts a priority in their lives.”

  • No, no, I’m saying we have to make sure people have art on their radars in the first place. If people don’t have art on their radar, no matter how easy we make it for them to access information about it, it won’t matter. So my point (as I think I said, or hope I said) isn’t a criticism of what you guys are doing so much a call for everyone to redouble efforts to make art an important part of people’s everyday lives.

  • I couldn’t agree more. At some point, people want a predictable experience, such as going to the cineplex or playing a video game, and of course people should do that all they want. But there’s a much richer (in my humble opinion) experience to be had on a Friday (or Tues, wed, thurs, sat, sun, mon) night by checking out what’s going on at the theatre, museum, dance studio, etc., around the corner. But if I need to click thirty times on X popular New York magazine’s website, in order to find out when and where that richer experience is happening, chances are slim I’m going to end up there. That’s where the NYC ARTS iPhone app comes in: it takes a minute (tops) to find something new and cool and interesting and enriching to do, if you have the NYC ARTS iPhone app.

    All of that to say that i couldn’t agree more with you. Get people the information where and when they want it and they’re MUCH more likely to attend a cultural event. That’s essentially the mission of NYC ARTS–a very simple strategy for developing arts audiences in NYC.