Sometimes I think the word â€˜downtownâ€™ is doomed because it has the prefix â€˜downâ€™ – obviously, it is preferable to go up than to go down… And lately, I find that the only downtowners who are going up are uptown transfers, i.e. people who used to do downtown but have somehow managed to get the uptown gigs. So where are the real downtowners right now?
There are several issues that preclude the development of a creative music scene:
- the prevalence of commercialism
- an atmosphere of conservatism and timidity in the arts
- as in other professions, age discrimination â€“ limited opportunities are shuffled off to the youngsters, never mind those who spent their lifetimes making new music and really have something to say;
- the cost of performing: between the mailings, the telephone calls, the transportation costs, the performers’ fees, any concert, even at a very small scale, has a price tag – and people donâ€™t even buy CDs at concerts any more;
-composers are pitted against one another for scanty opportunities, instead of uniting towards the common good;
-audiences are lacking â€“ small events used to attract 30 people, but not any more: due to the rising cost of everything, you quickly find that those same people donâ€™t go out as often and it is much more difficult to draw an audience without a major publicity effort
-a general preference for screen entertainment and internet activities versus live music
- a tremendous resistance to acknowledging downtown music â€“ Kyle Gann often complains that when he writes about downtown music, he gets inundated with nasty responses. What is it about downtown music that can trigger such reactions? It is being perceived as threatening?
Right now, it seems that weâ€™ve all taken deep cover – maybe the downtown scene is fading away – hopefully, only to be rediscovered 25 years from now as an important movement like Dadaism in art and literature.
What can we do? I would like to propose an event â€“ at least a panel discussion â€“focusing on downtown music â€¦ and its virtual happenings.