Sunday, January 5, 2003

Suburbanites: Will they roam?

Shaping culture in 2003

For a generation, "commute" meant the trip from suburban home to city workplace. Today, an equally common commute is suburb to suburb.

The choices Greater Cincinnati's educated and well-heeled suburbanites make in 2003 will have significant long-term impact on arts and culture in this continuing economic downturn. Increasingly, they're choosing not to come downtown.

Urban unrest, the boycott, shopping choices, orange barrels, panhandlers, perceptions about parking, safety and the sometimes unattractive urban landscape have come together to spell "I don't think so" for many in the suburbs.

The Big Deal events lure them: The Lion King at the Aronoff, a winning Reds team, the opening of Jean-Robert at Pigall's. But last summer, Cincinnati Opera ticket sales didn't meet expectations. Subscriptions to Playhouse in the Park are down. Cincinnati Ballet survives on the economic edge. Seats go empty at Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concerts.

Cincinnati's leading cultural institutions recognize the need to turn occasional visits into loyal support for long-term survival.

Early talk points from the soon-to-be-released PARC study report that while four out of five Greater Cincinnatians think performing arts are a good thing for the region, only three out of five people attend them.

The challenge is to turn that positive attitude into commitment.

25 forces that will shape culture in 2003
1. The big economic squeeze
2. Clear Channel's dominance
3. Suburbanites: Will they roam?
4. The plea for racial healing
5. The media's message
6. A whole new ball game
7. Edgy art center opening
8. Tall Stacks rolls back
9. Will tourists go home happy?
10. How Fine Arts Fund carries clout
11. You can't fight City Hall
12. Laura Long: Downtown force
13. The CSO's growing empire
14. Rosenthals' big impact
15. Northern Kentucky development
16. Museum Center's main man
17. Lobbyist Weiland
18. UC at crossroads
19. The Nederlanders make a comeback
20. MidPoint: Rebuild the city on rock 'n' roll
21. The Schuster Center alternative
22. Another public art project goes to bat
23. The brain drain
24. Local film community gains focus
25. Dancing around visa problems
The wild card of 2003: War
2003 dates to keep in mind

DEMALINE: The arts
KENDRICK: Alive & Well
Get to it!