Culture Shock

Wow, it's been quiet around here this week!

I was simultaneously pleased and annoyed to learn about "Culture Shock," an effort to promote local arts and artists.

"We want to make this a grass-roots movement to create a more symbiotic relationship between business and the arts," said Jon Wilner, director of Carrboro's ArtsCenter.

"Culture Shock" is a push to brand what many already know: the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area is replete with nightlife, music, museums, book readings, performances and all things artistic.

At a public meeting Tuesday night, roughly 100 people met in the ArtsCenter to figure out how to make "Culture Shock" work. | Area wants to cash in on arts assets, 1/10/07

I believe in the idea that Culture Shock apparently subscribes to, which is that promoting creativity supports thriving artists which leads to a rich community culture both socially and economically. This idea was popularized Richard Florida's book, The Creative Class.

I am also a strong believer in promoting local arts, mainly because it makes this community an awesome place to live for me and my friends and family. I have had a connection to the music scene ever since I was a toddler watching my dad play with the Blazers at the Cats Cradle in the 1970's. This instilled in me a great love of music, as well as an appreciation for art made by people you know, ie: Local Art. The Chapel Hill area's reputation for great music isn't due to any particular smash hits, but to a community that values making things they love over making money.

But I do have a concern reading this N&O article, and it's not just why didn't I hear about this meeting before the fact. The headline says it all: "Area wants to cash in on arts assets." If all this amounts to is a PR effort for local tourism, it will fail at both fostering creativity and at enhancing the economy. You have to really mean it or the art just isn't that compelling.



On further consideration, it appears that I was the touchy one, not John. Apologies all around.


(Card carrying member of the N.C. Zoological Society, with special expertise in the behavior of Equus asinus)

I'd just like to point out that the members of the casts of "Jackass" and "Jackass Number Two" also have SAG cards.

"Most actors and actresses have to learn their lines. We just have to eat beans or raw cabbage to get gas so we can light a fart under water. That's our preparation."

-- Johnny Knoxville, from "Jackass Number Two."

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."

Benjamin Franklin

That wasn't aimed at you, John, since you weren't the one to begin waving his SAG card around as if it proved something about what we were discussing. But be touchy, man, I don't care that much. Continue the chest thumping and territory marking if you must.

Hey Duncan,

I have expertise in that area too!

(smiley face, or winking smiley face)


I was equally confused / skeptical, but will reserve further comments because I couldn't attend the meeting on Tuesday.

Did anyone attend Culture Shock? What was the tenor?

I was able to stop by only at the beginning (en route to the BoA meeting), before the actual discussions began. What I can report is that there were a lot of people and a lot of enthusiasm. Usually a good combination.

I did hear some concern about not creating a SOHO effect. But I've also heard a lot of concern from artists about the difficulty of making a living and, particularly, of finding affordable studio space.

Right on point, Dan. I think it would be interesting to know how many members of the "culture class" associated with Chapel Hill and Carrboro -- artists, musicians, writers, dancers, craftspeople, and the people who love them --actually live and/or work in Durham, Alamance, or Chatham Counties.

Last night I walked home late from my _cheap_ office in Pittsboro and heard The Breaks practicing up above Edwards Antiques, and Ken Mosher (or someone in his old, cool house) working on some drum and bass. It was very nice; the music followed me all the way to my house, which is just two blocks away. Pittsboro: population c. 3,000. Countless more artists and musicians live out in the county. Space is cheap down here still, but maybe not much longer.

If there's one thing, taking from my own experience and the experience of other friends, that would promote, support, and continue the growth of a vibrant arts community in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, it's not housing as much as having a cheap and functional place to work. Housing is nice, affordable housing is essential, but it doesn't necessarily have to be in the same place you work, and it's where artists work that's important in building community. When artists are at work, that's when they're open to making connections with each other and even collaborating. Even if an artist never comes out of her studio or office, it's still nice to know that there are people around struggling the same way with whatever they're working on. Hearing the music on the way home from my office, and sometimes through the window of my office, does that for me. Home is for sleeping.

In fact, some people really need to have home be separate from their work space. Sometimes this is for obvious reasons -- the art they practice requires larger or more specialized space than you can typically find in a house or an apartment -- and sometimes it's just for creative reasons. I can't work out of my house, for instance, even though I only require a desk and some books.

So, if I were asked, I'd say making work space for artists available and cheap near (or in) the downtown area would be a first step toward developing a real, working, living artistic community that can sustain itself in the heart of the community. Affordable housing is always important (for everyone), and you don't want to be too far from your studio or practice space, but I think you'd get more for your money if you were first to promote the development of workspace for artists.

Good points,

I know a lot of actors in the area. The majority live in Durham or Chatham, not Chapel Hill... and housing is the issue.

If you would rather know what really went on at the Culture Shock meeting and what the project is about, please feel free to contact me at The ArtsCenter. It would be much better to openly discuss these issues than to guess as to what this is all about. I have read some characterizations, including one in the N&O, that simply do not capture the collaborative intent of the project, nor what it could mean to the artists in our community. Before people go running their mouths off (a popular pastime around here) they should take the time to find out the facts. We are merely trying to create a grassroots movement to "brand" what already exists in our community. If the word "brand" offends you, perhaps you might ask some of our local artists if they can use some help in making a living. I have been a member of arts communities since the late '60's and have been a card-carrying member of both Screen Actors' Guild and Actors' Equity Association since 1978. It is only the last few years that I have become and arts administrator, so I have a strong affinity for and empathy with our local artists. Culture Shock is an attempt to galvanize the arts community in a way that will create a destination for the arts where we live. This will help both the local artists and the greater business community at the same time. If artists are always looking to the business community for financial support, then what is wrong with trying to support the business community throught the arts? Call me if you want to talk. Jon Wilner


I too am a member of SAG and AEA, and a former arts administrator. I don't think anyone was offended. I don't think anyone was running their mouths off - this is a public forum in which to discuss community issues.

I can't speak for others, but I was simply curious what it was all about, as I couldn't attend.

I would love to talk about it. I'll call you next week.


John A

Jon, I'm just reporting what I know. You didn't invite me to this meeting or announce it any place that I saw, so the paper is the only way most of us even know that you are doing anything. Since this is a public relations effort, maybe you should think more about how Culture Shock comes across to the media and the public. It's not our fault if we don't get complete or accurate information - that's your job.

And if it's "better to openly discuss these issues" then please do share and don't leave us guessing. For example, can you explain the connection between "branding" the community and artists making a living? Are you planning to build art-supportive infrastructure like the affordable housing and practice/studio space described above?

Paint us the real picture that you say the N&O missed.

Hmm. Coming to this a few days late, obviously, but I have a couple of quick points which may come off snarky (go figure).

First: un[der]publicized meetings of some predetermined group of folks =/= "grassroots." Nothing necessarily wrong with doing it that way, but we already *have* a grassroots arts community that has [intermittently] done a pretty great job of creating a grassroots brand. It's called the Chapel Hill Music Scene, for better or worse. Clearly we didn't do a good enough job of cashing in on that brand while it was hot, but oh well.

Second: "Culture Shock" carries, at best, connotations of some mysterious cultured class "shocking" the uncultured masses into some new, more enlightened state. Or, worse, some group of people so interested in finding a catchy name that they're willing to pick a phrase that is, essentially, meaningless when applied to the actual subject at hand.

Third: I actually *was* invited to participate, sort of. It came in the form of a mysterious email from some ad/design/PR person with a PDF attachment that was deleted, like all other unsolicited attachments, by my mailserver before the email got to me. The text was as follows:

"Attached is a special invitation for you to help realize the full potential
of the arts in the Chapel Hill, Carrboro and surrounding areas. Hope to see you there...."

I replied to the person & said "hey, I filter unsolicited attachments, can you tell me what this is about in plaintext?"

I got an email back with the following explanation:

"I know that you are up on all that is the music scene, perhaps you would be interested in participating in Culture Shock? Our aim is to make the area a 'cultural destination' in the minds of outlying communities to infuse outside $$ into our economy with our greatest asset‹the arts. By getting businesses and the art community together we can do this and everyone wins!"

Still no info about what the heck it was, or when/where, or any of that fun stuff. It was seeming sketchier by the minute anyway, so I abandoned the dialogue.

RE: other peoples' points about affordable housing, all I can add to that is this: affordable healthcare. Unlikely to happen at a city/county level, but aside from housing, it's the single biggest hassle that most of *my* artist friends endure. I guess they could all move to MA or CA & be mandated by law to purchase their own health insurance, but I don't think that's a viable solution, either for them or for us.

Finally, if the goal is to put boots-on-the-ground to support the arts (or for the arts to support business; I'm not really sure about how that's supposed to work), then I hope that after the meeting, all 100+ people in the room headed out to one of our fine local music clubs to have a beer and see a show. Somehow I doubt it, though.

Ummm...emerging from the lurkers corner here...I'd still like to hear what Jon's hopes and dreams are for this plan. Like who've already posted, I've seen neighborhoods of artists decimated by outside investment that made the neighborhood too expensive for all but the most establised artists. It's not surprising that a committed bunch like this would be concerned. Jon, would you be willing to expound a bit?

Ruby, love the spam protection, but OY, basic math after lunch!

Welcome, Kirsten! Glad you made it past the elementary school flashback test. ;-)

So, I was just Googling Culture Shock, and guess what I found? They have a web site!

Before they spend too much time on this promotion effort, perhaps they should learn a tad about public relations. Jon Wilner comes across as trying harder to protect information than wanting to share it.

Instead of barking at us to call him, perhaps he could do a little of that "openly discuss[ing]" that he is so in favor of. In fact, maybe he could do it on a website with a large audience of readers and participants interested in supporting local arts. But where on earth could he find a place like that...?

I would be more than happy to share whatever anyone wants to know about Culture Shock. However, I don't respond to personal attacks, nor to people who level them.

One of my great concerns is that we become so popular a place to live that artists can no longer afford to live here. That was one of my gripes with Richard Florida's first book. Since then he has addressed that particular issue. Another concern that I have had is that the arts community is so often looking to the business community for funding. Because of a very positive experience that I had in Bucks County, PA, I believe that the arts community can collaborate in a way that serves our local business community, and at the same time increase earnings for our area artists. (We have tentatively defined "our area" as a 'Diamond In the Rough,' Chapel Hill, Carrbnoro, Hillsborough, and Pittsboro, and all points in between). About 30 years ago, in Bucks County, the business community recognized the value of the arts to their pocketbooks. They first picked a 12 week period of time and then went to the local chamber and asked them to gather all data relating to arts offerings during those 12 weeks - gallery exhibits, music performances, museum exhibits, dance performances, theatre, etc. They turned the data into a brochure, gave it a name ("Bucks Fever") and sent the brochures around the region. Now, almost 30 years later, it is a 7-month long event that brings 10's of thousans of people to Bucks County every year to experience the art scene and spend money in the local economy. It has been a win-win situation for all involved. Now, we are not Bucks County, so maybe we will do it a little differently. I don't know. The point is, we have this capability.

The idea is to create a grass-roots movement to make this happen. I never had any intentions of "running" this, although I would like to be part of the committee who will organize it. I only wanted to invite the public to explore the possibility. That is what happened last Tuesday night at The ArtsCenter. As far a letting folks know about last Tuesday: there was a front-page article about it the week before in the Chapel Hill News, I e-mailed an invitation to the Orange County Arts Commission, to a member of the Catham County Arts Council, to the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, and to the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitor's Bureau and asked them all to distribute the invitation. An announcement took up the entire homepage of The ArtsCetnter's website. I also sent out over 100 invitations to folks that I know, as did Dan Krebill and Sallie Scharding, who I had been working with to put the event together. Then, when my mother suffered a stroke, I got stuck in Atlanta until two days before the event. So, if anyone did not hear about it or "get invited" it was not for a lack of trying to get the word out. Perhaps people should read more newspapers, and less blogs, I don't know.

As far as my SAG and AEA cards are concerned, I am very proud of my membership in those two unions. I only mentioned them, however, to deflect any anticipated criticism that might have arisen concerning me being an arts administrator, not an artist. (People can read into my motives any way they like, but they only tend to make asses of themselves when they do so). Tomorrow, I will have available a full report on last weeks event, but I don't know how to post it on this blog. So, anyone who wants to read it will actually have to go through the horrible ordeal of requesting it. I will be more than happy to make the report available, as this is intended to be a community event. I am not attempting to "protect information," merely protecting myself against personal attacks. It is my humble opinion that some of you folks take yourselves a tad too seriously. Now, fire away.

One more thing. I don't know if anyone saw the editorial written by Dave Hart, in the Sunday Chapel Hill News. Dave came to last week's event and participated in the brainstorming sessions. Reading Dave's editorial will help explain what this is about, as well as the spirit behind it.

Jon, thank you for your response. You have begun to answer some of the questions folks have asked, which is appreciated. I really don't think anyone needs to justify their 'art credentials' here, we are all essential parts of the scene either as creators, consumers, or sponsors.

If you post your report on the ArtsCenter or CultureShock web site, it would be very easy to link to it from here.

As I said originally, I can see the point of this generally. I'm curious how it fits in with or responds to current activities such as the Flicker Film Festival, SleazeFest, Art on Weaver, Troika music festival, Signal Fest, the Womens Center's annual art show, the Carrboro Music Festival, the Carrboro Poetry Festival, and many other efforts that exist or came before.

I really hope it maintains a focus on supporting artists primarily, local residents access to the arts secondarily, and arts tourism later. That's just my personal priorities.


The concept of "Culture Shock" is inclussive. Depending on the particular 12 weeks chosen for the "event," many of the arts activities you mention could be included. It is not an attempt to create new events, merely co-market what is already in place. My suggestion would be to make it from mid-July through mid-October. Many of the events you mentioned would occur during that time period. Perhaps other event organizers would chose to reschedule their events during that time period. Perhaps it would be more than 12 weeks long. Perhaps the steering committee will pick a different 12 weeks. These are not decisions that will be left to me, nor to Sallie Sharding or Dan Krebill, the two friends who I worked with to create the event at The ArtsCenter last week. Again, this is intended to be a grass-roots movement, governed by a volunteer steering committee. We just wanted to throw something against the wall and see what sticks.

As far as your prioritizing, I think we need to focus on "we" rather than "us vs. them." In order for an idea such as Culture Shock to work, it would need to serve all three of the populations you mention: local artists, local residents, and the business community (tourism). It will also be necessary to put aside historical differences between politcal entities. Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough, Pittsboro, and UNC-CH would all need to collaborate in order to make this work. Although I am one who perceives more collaboration across political boundaries than is reported in the media, perhaps it will be the arts community that teaches the political community how to BETTER collaborate across these political boudaries.

I still don't buy that tourist dollars are better for the local economy than local dollars. But we've been over that before, and for whatever reason the Downtown Partnership is also very tourist-oriented. Then again, maybe it's better for everyone to visit than to move here... ;-)

"Culture Shock" strikes me as a fine label for this initiative. There are better ways to support and promote the local/regional arts scene than to wring our hands about affordable housing.

The steering committee could pick almost any twelve-week period in the year for the "event," but they're wise to look at late summer / early autumn when the local population swells up. I'd like to get involved in Culture Shock.

Wouldn't want to wring our hands about affordable housing. Might need a manicure afterward.

I think it's grea that they're down with the sadly departed Dead Moon. That's the "Diamond in the Rough" reference, right? Pittsboro would like to be Toody.

On a more serious note, I'd be interested in some clarification/description of the "arts community" that is "so often looking to the business community for funding." I understand from Jon's posts that part of the idea of Culture Shock is to balance the relationship between artist and business owner in the community so that it's not always such a one-way transaction: "If artists are always looking to the business community for financial support, then what is wrong with trying to support the business community throught the arts?"

This would make sense to me, except that I'm having a hard time thinking of who these artists are who are always looking to the business community for support. I know a lot of artists who look to the business community for jobs -- as waiters, bartenders, temps, housepainters, shop clerks, paralegals -- but I reckon that's not what we're talking about.

I am dissappointed to read Ross Grady remarks and I agree that they do come off a bit snarky.

We did not have to do any of this—our generous, volunteer efforts were an attempt to do something positive to promote this area, actually walking the walking for a greater common good.

We chose to act, and to not just sit around talking and complaining about the way things are. Nor did we feel paralyed to act because we feared that someone would not like the name we might chose.

We did our best to pull this off sharing all duties between only three people.

Depsite our 'shortcomings', we did manage to have a successful event of 125 people interested enough in what we were wanting to do to stick out a 3 hour event. Many were excited to be involved in the process of figuring out what the need is, and the best way to achieve the desired goal. And, also interested enough to want to participate in the next steps.

A big 'thank you' to everyone who did come and participate.

They did not need to go out to hear a band afterwards, we brought a band to them — Tim Stambaugh and Friends provided a wonderful set of music. And by that time, all involved had already done their part to support the arts and their community.

I always liked the saying: if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

Hi Sallie,

Please take a good look at Triangle Rock . I'd be curious to know if you still think Ross is part of the problem after looking over that resource and realizing that it was put together by one person, Ross, who has maintained it for many years in various incarnations, since before a lot of people knew there was an Internet. And someone else here (Kirk?) might know how long Ross has hosted a local music radio show on WXDU? Since before I was out of flannels and torn jeans, I'm quite sure.

I think it might be useful to know what "problem" you all are talking about. I can think of lots of problems facing the artists in our community (as I can think of a lot of things that are going really well), but I sense that I'm not thinking of the same problems.

As far as snarkiness is concerned, I wonder if there isn't a little Culture Clash going on. That's to be expected, I think. "Branding" and "arts" are words that have been brought together before in the history of the Triangle Arts Scene, and the result hasn't always been pretty. The Big Record Stardom Convention of 1992, or the Triangle Music Fest sponsored by Sony, and the fallout of each, are pretty good examples of how at least one part of the creative community responded to attempts to "brand the scene."

Thank God our artists have been an independent-minded and ornery bunch.

p.s. Although my examples involve music, it should be noted that many of those bands of the early 1990s also produced some of our most prominent visual artists, designers, filmmakers, and writers.

And I'm sure Tim Stambaugh and Friends were great and that everyone enjoyed themselves thoroughly. But that wasn't Ross's point, I think. His point was that if you want to support that conjunction of arts and business, folks should go someplace and pay money for their entertainment (and their refreshments) at one of the clubs and cafes around town. I think that's in keeping with some of the ideas I hear coming from your Culture Shock meeting; I think Ross was pointing out the irony of bringing in an act rather than going out to see that act, given Culture Shock's ideas about culture and commerce.

A couple weeks before he played at your meeting, Tim Stambaugh played at The Cave (now non-smoking! with liquor!), which is one of the oldest saloons in the area and an anchor of musical culture. The Cave is always desperately in need of people to come in and see acts and buy drinks and put money in the hat for the band. Even though I wasn't there, I'm willing to bet there weren't 125 people that night to see Tim, or even 50. If something that grows out of the Culture Shock effort can fix that dire problem for live music venues in our area, then I'll do anything I can to support Culture Shock.

Art and music need to be supported where they grow, and in music that's the small, local, for-profit clubs and bars.

I am very aware of Ross's accomplishments and involvment in the music scene...I am the one he mentioned that had sent him the invitation and I had sent it to him for this reason. Hence, my disappointment to hear his less-than-supportive comments.

I agree with you that music need to be supported where they grow.
I was one of those in attendance at the Cave who bought beverages and supported Tim's show. Those in attendance were mostly fellow musicians. Sadly. It would have been nice to see the place packed.

Culture Shock aims to accomplish getting more folks here, not just for the music scene but for art,dance, theatre, restaruants, venues, hotels and other establishements. Getting the folks thinking that this is the place to BE — hear our music, eat our restaurants and drink at our clubs, etc. Granted the details haven't been ironed out, but it's all good. Right?

Never said Ross was part of the problem....said I liked the phrase.

Now that I know the Cave is non-smoking you will definitely find me out there enjoying more local art! Thanks for the tip, Duncan. ;-)

It's non-smoking in the front, smoking in the back where the pool tables are. Still, it's made a big difference for shows I think.

We received a copy of the report from last Tuesday's meeting, but it needs some rewrites. We will try to get it out by the end of the week.


The (.) is misplaced in my website address. I probably typed it in wrong when I submitted it. Can it be fixed?


I've fixed it in the comment above, but you will have to re-enter it the next time you comment. If you've registered, this is under your user bio:

I told you it was going to sound snarky.

I don't suppose I'd want to hold myself up as any kind of example (particularly since I have Duncan to do that for me ;-)), but I will say that my general experience has been that the more people who're asked to agree on something, the less likely you are to ever get anything done.

Many, if not all, of the events that Ruby cites (Troika, Flicker, Sleazefest, Signal Fest, etc) had their genesis with pretty darn small groups of folks who said "hey, wouldn't it be cool if we had a _______" and then proceeded to build whatever it was that they wanted.

I found Jon's story of Bucks County to be fascinating as a case study, but I don't know that it's directly applicable here. I may be naive, but I suspect there are probably more Bucks County residents who have heard of Raleigh or Durham or Chapel Hill, than there are Triangle residents who have heard of Bucks County. I'm just not sure that our "problem," such as it is, is one of lack of name recognition outside of our immediate area.

Looking around Chapel Hill & Carrboro, outside of the music scene (whose venues, as we've pointed out, are struggling to survive in the face of a wave of audience apathy), what assets do we have, arts-wise, and how many *new* assets are we adding to replace those that we lose?

The most exciting new gallery to open in Chapel Hill/Carrboro in YEARS, Branch Gallery, lasted about a year before they moved to Durham. Why? Because (a) rent was too expensive in Carrboro, and (b) not enough people were coming to the gallery.

Now they have a beautiful space on Foster St in Durham, in a building that also houses an arts co-op and the new Piedmont Restaurant. And what was the genesis of that building? Not a civic committee (nor indeed, a committee of any kind). Rather, as documented in an article in this week's Indy, it was basically just one real estate developer.

I think the reason that so many posts in this thread focused in on issues of "affordability" is because THOSE ARE THE ISSUES that need focusing on. You can work your butts off to lure out-of-towners to Chapel Hill to look at art, but if there isn't any exciting art in Chapel Hill to look at, because the rents are so high, and support from the local residents so low, that nobody can afford to be *in* the arts business here, then the out-of-towners aren't going to come back for 2nd helpings.

As Duncan so helpfully pointed out, *that* is what I was getting at when I asked whether anybody had actually left the meeting and *gone to a show* at one of the local arts-based businesses.

Lest it sound like I'm doing nothing but pooping all over other peoples' ideas, let me make a suggestion: I suspect the mechanisms for luring out-of-towners to arts events in the Triangle might be very similar to the mechanisms for luring *Triangle residents* to arts events in the Triangle. If we figure out how to do one, we'll know more about how to do the other.

Of course, I have no freaking idea how to do either one. Or rather, I *have* an idea, one that I've been singlehandedly acting upon for the past 10 years or so, but I have very little confidence that it actually *helps*.

Or, as my uncle used to tell me, "I'm not going to go see any of this stuff, but I enjoy reading what you write about it."

So ultimately, maybe I'd like to borrow and then mangle a quote from Jon, to close: "Perhaps people should read more newspapers leave the freaking house & go look at some art, and [read] less blogs."


I find your latest comments to be very thoughtful and certainly worthy of consideration. As I mentioned in my last post on the subject, we are different than Bucks County and would need to find our own approach. Yet, there are underlying similarities that do translate: close to a major city, historic arts population, historic support of the arts, and a community with no major corporations. Also, when my wife and I decided to move to Carrboro from Bucks County it was because we had heard about the community. I did not move here to work at The ArtsCenter. I moved here because I wanted to live here. I did not have a job for the first 9 months I was here, other than teaching a class at The ArtsCenter. But if you think that Chapel Hill has more name recognition for its arts scene, I think you are incorrect. Chapel Hill is known because of the University. We can, and should, be know for our artists as well.

What you should also try to understand is that the group of 120 or so folks who came to The ArtsCenter last Tuesday was comprised of a wide cross-section of our community. There were artists, business people, arts administrators, politicians, representatives of quasi-government agencies, and other interested parties. I am not sure i would characterize the number of people present as a "small group." There were aslo probably 100 other folks that I have heard from who wanted to be there and either could not make it or did not find out about it in time. Again, we did the best we could to get the word out. This was not an "exclusive" group.

It rarely concerns me when previous attempts fail. There are so many reasons why projects fail that there is no way to really compare. If I think it is a good idea, I pursue it. That is what I, and the many other folks who think this can work, will do. We will go for it. I hope you will join the effort.

i work at the century center and we have dances other envents there u can find them on the town website

Many folks have been calling and/or emailing about the report from the Culture Shock event. I have received the report, but it needs to be rewritten. Life has gotten in the way and I will not be able to work on it until this weekend. I will try to post it early next week.

The report from the Culture Shock event, held last month at The ArtsCenter is available on the Culture Shock website. To read the report and to volunteer for the steering committee please go to:

The Cave is semi-smoke-free? That's good progress, but the Cradle is showing the way on this front. Seriously, I've never understood why there aren't more smoke-free venues in this area. The last show I attended at the Raleigh Music Hall was so smoky from the audience that we didn't stay for half of the first set.

I was out in Seattle in 1999 for work and there was a Smoke-Free-Seattle website TEEMING with clubs, events, restaurants, and microbreweries that had all banned smoking.

Everywhere we went to on the list (mostly the latter 2 categories) was full of people and clean air. If the audience is thin to begin with, how about some more local venues experimenting with smoke-free shows? Can it hurt?

There was an article in the paper about the smoke-free-ness of local venues a few months ago. IIRC, Mr. Mouse said he'd lost a lot of business as a result . . . lemme see if I can find the link . . . dangit, no, I can't. Sorry.

My conversations on this topic with other local clubowners generally go like this: "No way I'm going to be the only one to go nonsmoking. If there were a law, I'd gladly comply, but if I went nonsmoking unilaterally, all my customers would go someplace else."

The Cradle pretty much only books "destination" bands; it has been years & years since they relied on random people wandering in off the street, or just coming in to hang out & drink. The smoking-ness of the club isn't going to be nearly as huge an issue for fans of the bands who play the Cradle as it would be for the far-more-heterogenous clientele at the smaller local bars/clubs.

This whole topic pains me greatly, because I myself have sharply curtailed my show attendance over the past couple of years, largely due to my inability to deal with the smoke, which has definitely gotten worse cumulatively over my 20 years of clubgoing (my tolerance level, that is, not the quantity of smoke, which has probably decreased).

I have tried to make the counter-argument on many occasions that there's a whole other underserved sector of potential show-goers, those who avoid shows because of the smoke, who would take the place of the hardcore smokers if clubs were to go nonsmoking.

The sad truth of it, however, IMHO, is that those people are (like me) older, tired-er, and far less likely to go to shows nowadays, regardless of whether there's smoke or not. Banning smoking to please people like me, and/or with the expectation that we'll make good on our promises to come out more, is probably unrealistic.

I still think all local bars (or at least live-entertainment venues) should be nonsmoking, but I'm no longer able in good faith to make an economic argument in favor of voluntary nonsmoking policies on the part of the clubowners. This needs to be done universally, as a public-health issue, by the town/county/state.

I had a conversation with Mouse just last week regarding the impact of non-smoking on his business at The Cave, and he told me it had been beneficial to his bottom line. He specifically suggested that a person opening a new bar should start out with a no-smoking policy from the beginning.

I've posted a PDF version of the Culture Shock report here for those of us who try to avoid Microsoft products.

Thank you Ethan! I've posted that PDF version that you created on the Culture Shock web site.

We've had a pretty good response to our call for volunteers, but very few comments on the actual report. We also would welcome volunteers with technical skills because the undertaking will require an excellant presence on the web to succeed as we now visualize it.

For my part, I'm hoping we can build a collaborative portal that empowers a whole spectrum of artists, performers, and businesses (of all types) to contribute to meaningful content. We already have a lot to offer here in the Orange and Chatham counties' area, and promoting the arts scene here in a more cohesive and comprehensive way will surely benefit everyone. The trick is to make it easy to post and/or update information without having to have a small army of dedicated site administrative folks.

Yeah, I'd goto allot more shows too if they were in a non-smoking establishment. Heck where can you watch UNC basketball on a big screen where its non-smoking?
+ + +

As for the "collaborative portal" of creative people... I'd recommend against spending a lot of money developing something that's hard to take care of. (Why listen to me? I'm a pro-web developer and have been helping empower creative people online since 1989.)

Help *all* creative people learn how to blog by themselves. Weblog software is more than just a journal for political opinion. Its basically a way to help you manage text and A/V content on the web in a simple manner. Anton Zuiker and I conduct FREE semi-regular blog teach-ins to help people learn. Watch for info about the next event.

Once everyone has their own blog, which takes 5 minutes to set up, then aggregate their RSS feed on your site. This is a way to share their content and identify as a group. At the very least link to all the different people who are promoting/sharing what they make. You can learn more about this at our blogger meet-ups and blog teach-ins.

My overall points:
1) Don't create big new "portal" sites to herd a bunch of people under one tent.
2) Do empower individuals to promote themselves the way they want.
3) Provide care and feeding for the individuals that make up your creative community. (ex. meet-ups, conferences, teach-ins, etc.)

This is decentralized community building online. Its sustainable and dirt cheap.


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