Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Vive le salon!

Street view of The Walkover Gallery and Concert Room on Main Street in Bristol, VT.

Street view of The Walkover Gallery and Concert Room on Main Street in Bristol, VT.

A packed crowd enjoys a performance in the Walkover Gallery and Concert Room.

A packed crowd enjoys a performance in the Walkover Gallery and Concert Room.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, salons provided a safe place to discuss politics, socialize, scandalize, and take in an artistic performance. Whether it be poetry read allowed or an amateur on the pianoforte, the venue was intimate and promoted good conversation. In Bristol, Vermont the salon has made a comeback thanks to a group of friends who share the love of arts and community. The Bristol First-Sunday Salon Series is a season of free performances of varying genres set to take place in a room above a law office in town. In between each act there is an open discussion of what they just witnessed comparable to the salon tradition. They are open to take donations, but it is not a priority. This is simply arts for art’s sake and community involvement.

As arts managers who hope to make a living, what do we think of this?  I think that this would be wonderfully fun to experience, but is this undermining what we work for? There are many instances of free art, but as artists ourselves, do we not constantly fight that we deserve to be compensated for our training and expertise? They seem to be making it work thus far and I tip my hat to these civic leaders.

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One comment on “Vive le salon!

  1. benjamendouglas
    September 3, 2014

    Undermining the work? Not at all. Quite the contrary, actually.

    I’m a big fan of salons. The literary organization I started in MS hosted salons in our founder’s home. People who otherwise wouldn’t attend a reading would come (and pay. nobody salons have to be free) just because of the cache of being in her home. By doing this, 6-8 writers at a time would develop entire new audiences. Patrons would get the chance to “rub elbows” with writers in much different circumstances than they would at a bookstore, book festival, or other public event.

    And, just as a bit of history, although the article implies that salons died out in the 18th century, it just simply isn’t so. They were particularly popular during the Harlem Renaissance. Madam C.J. Walker was famous for the salons she hosted in her brownstone.

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