somebody needs to be the audience

Am I the only one who feels there’s an excess of fundraisers for environmental causes, women’s issues, children’s rights, animal shelters, peace & justice, local/sustainable foods…? Too many events: wandering tables, auctions, readings, book/CD launches, wine dinners, art shows, festivals/fairs, farm tours…?

All good, solid things to support, and I do. Unfortunately, as the tally of deserved beneficiaries grows, the public shrinks. I often see the same people making the rounds; there’s only so many of us to go around.

Everybody’s a writer. Or artist. Or songwriter, comic, actress, filmmaker, performance artist, restaurant owner…with sub-types in each. As those numbers swell, the “audience” recedes because, repeatedly, the attendees are other writers, artists, activists, farmers…and we have stuff to do, practice, create.

A glut of “performers” clogs the balance of “entertainment” and since there’s no celebrity status in being the audience, it apparently has no value.

But as a poet, I can tell you turn-out matters. Nothing’s worse than giving a reading to a “crowd” of five. Well–actually–one fiction writer friend related a time when he had to read to one person. What’s the protocol for this? He said the lonely visitor was as embarrassed as he was.

A good audience creates a reciprocity of energy exchange, be it live theatre, concert or poetry reading that feeds us; restaurant bustle makes one want to join the fun.

An MFA friend realized at some point that what she really loved was reading books, not writing them. How many writers actually subscribe and/or read the lit mags they submit their work to?

Maybe some of us might want to reevaluate whether we actually like to write or just like to call ourselves writers, if in truth we spend time painting instead of discussing what we’re going to paint, if we play our piano or use it for furniture.

Those of you who aren’t artists/activists, we need you out here to fill those seats with us. In the meantime, we’ll try to stop flooding the world with events, books, CDs, benefits, shows…

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