Friday night's "community forum" at Warwick's Books in La Jolla was a surprising and revealing evening.
1.) About 300 people cared enough to come spend about 3 hours (seats were mostly all gone by 7pm and we didn't break up till 9:30, with everyone standing around inside until much later) talking about the arts and about arts coverage and the future of newspaper writing...
2.) Most people seemed more concerned about Bob Pincus' job than about the future of Arts writing in general...
3.) No one threw anything or even cursed...
1.) The new editor of THE daily paper here (the San Diego Union-Tribune), Jeff Light, was willing to say he'd consider working with a "coalition of partners" to try to find a new and creative way to keep Arts critic Robert Pincus writing about our local arts scene--though not in his paper.
2.) No one mentioned Books Editor Art Salm (except in passing) though his being "let go" a couple years ago was the beginning of the end for local book coverage...By which I don't mean coverage of local books--which never happened much and happens less now--but local events about, and reviews of, "national" books.
3.) No one much supported KPBS arts producer/reporter/blogger Angela Carone's suggestion that we look forward--to new concepts of, and new paradigms in arts coverage--instead of backward to the way things used to be. (Nor did anyone clap when I suggested that lack-luster, unengaged arts "consumers" share some blame for losing arts coverage.)
For those who like Facebook, Warwick's was posting some snippets of the discussion on their FB fan page.
Anyway, it was a very good event, on balance, and I'm very glad I went. If nothing else, it's nice to hear raised (but civil) voices, speaking passionately about big ideas in a bookstore, these days. Warwick's is a good venue, too, as well as one of the last of the indie stores here in SD County.
My take is that we need to make the discussion about books and writing and all the arts, as passionate as the discussion about what NBA team LeBron James was going to play for next...Or the discussion about local politics!
Let's do it...I'm trying to do my part in a small way here. Maybe you are doing yours by spreading the word about what you are digging reading/seeing/hearing; that is an important part of the new culture; check out Seth Godin on the importance of the "new sorting."
Also very cool and inspiring this week--a new podcast with my friend C.M. Mayo, on "The Writing Life"...Listen to it here.