“Where have all the people gone?” is a question that I often find myself discussing as I visit with other musical performers and event promoters.
What they mean is where are those who once came and filled the seats in a thousand seat auditorium and helped the promoters make enough money to pay the entertainers, so they could pay their staff, fill the bus with diesel and move on to the next town.
Now it’s not that way in every genre of music or in every type of entertainment. You can find sports arenas crowded, car races flowing with lines, even some of the high dollar music concerts with the latest hit maker filled to capacity, and of course the city clubs teaming with followers of the latest music that is desired by the teens and twenty-somethings.
From the late 1800s, shows criss-crossed the country, playing the small and medium size towns bringing entertainment to those who normally didn’t have access like those who lived in the cities. Among these offerings were medicine shows, circuses, touring plays, and musical acts based from various radio or TV powerhouses. These filled civic auditoriums, legion halls, and schoolhouses, and even tents on fairgrounds around the country.
Through the years the venues changed, at one time in the lifetime of many of my readers, it was normal to have a live musical show on Saturday before the movie at the theaters. Through the years county fairs also became a big focus for musical acts.
I have spent my life touring the back roads, playing the small and medium size towns across this great land and in Canada.
One of the realities of today’s dissected audience, split between countless cable channels, internet viewing, freedom of movement, and variety of choices of entertainment, is that folks just don’t attend shows in the small and medium towns like they once did.
I have often heard entertainers say, “We could be at the high school auditorium, drive the bus through town and park it out front and folks would be hanging from the rafters.”
I know this to be true because I’ve seen it in my life, but unfortunately today, often all that is hanging from the rafters is the cobwebs.
So what is the answer to the question? Where have all the people gone? All I can figure is they are sitting at home or traveling out of town to see something else. What is it going to take to keep alive the arts in small and medium size towns across our great land?
Friends… It’s plain and simple. You are the only one that can make it happen.
If there is a promoter in your community creating a quality show bringing in professional talent to entertain, support that promoter. Buy tickets, go, sit in the seats, applaud, make the show a success, then go talk about it with your friends and get them to go the next time.
You might say, “I don’t like the music.” Well, how will the promoter know that if you do not go and support what he or she is doing and encouraging them to try to bring some of what you like to the community as well. It could be a gospel music concert, a bluegrass show, a country show, big band, polka, Cajun, blues, jazz, classical, folk, a touring stage play, or any other type of show that might appeal to you. If the promoter or organization sponsoring the event can’t make money then eventually it has to end.
Don’t sit home and watch TV or go out of town every week to a professional sporting event.
Support the local shows with your money and your volunteering. Do you think the folks you watch on TV or those professional athletes are going to come to your town and help a local charity raise money?
Maybe, if your town is very lucky, but most likely, its going to be singer, musician, circus, or play, who is out there every week in a different place sharing their talents and trying to pay the bills.
Also, when you go to the shows, spend some money with the entertainers too. Buy their latest CDs, DVDs, photos, t-shirts to help them in their efforts as well. And don’t forget the show sponsors as well. Tell them you appreciate their efforts.
Friends, if we don’t make a difference where we live by supporting the arts, one day soon, there will be no more professional traveling shows and entertainers that we can afford to see in our own communities because they will not be able to afford to come anywhere near us.