I got a remarkable email from a subscriber to my day job yesterday. Out of respect to the subscriber I'm going to leave the name out . . . and only share a tiny portion of it, but it is something that merits discussion.
"We are long-time subscribers to your organization, well out of the age group that your group has to attract to survive.
We understand that programming has to take into account the need to find plays that younger people will attend, and that will give them a reason to support you.
So, what follows in this email might reasonably be at least discounted, perhaps ignored, as coming from the old crowd that cannot be relied on to support the theater in the future." (emphasis added)
The subscriber then gives a well reasoned, passionate, intelligent statement about how he disagrees with the direction the art is moving in and thus would not be renewing his subscription.
I respect his decision, even if I disagree with the reasons behind it.
For the record, I don't think the theatre is trying to serve a younger audience, it's just trying not to do the same thing over and over again . . . when you have been around for 50 years, sometimes your biggest challenge is avoiding death by repetition.
But what I love about this (former) patron is that he understands that the art must evolve . . . even if it evolves to a place that lives him behind.
It's a question with no easy answer . . . how do you serve both the audience you have and the audience you want?
In a perfect world they would all want the same things, but the world isn't perfect. So you have to make the strongest artistic decisions you can and hope people follow you. Many will. Some will not. That's just how it is.