THE ARTFUL MANAGER
January 31, 2014 by Andrew Taylor on the business of arts and culture
Last week I had the pleasure of keynoting the CAPACOA conference in Toronto – a charming bundle of Canadian performing arts presenters, managers, artists, and related professionals. The topic, as assigned, was curiosity. Which led me to wonder a few things: what is curiosity, how does it work, and what might a cultural manager do differently if he or she knew some answers to question one and two?
The Oxford English Dictionary offers two current subjective uses of the word (ignoring for now the objective). One positive: “The desire or inclination to know or learn about anything, esp. what is novel or strange; a feeling of interest leading one to inquire about anything.” One decidedly sinister: “The disposition to inquire too minutely into anything; undue or inquisitive desire to know or learn.”
So, curiosity can drive us to learn more about our world and its inhabitants, sometimes things it’s not our business to know. We all want our audiences and communities to be more curious, particularly about our work and the things we care about. But we don’t want the fickle and salacious curiosity that would draw them quickly elsewhere.
For our conversation, I adopted and adapted a definition from behavioral psychology (specifically from Carnegie Mellon’s George Loewenstein):
Curiosity is the hunger that arises when attention becomes focused on a gap in what you know.
The frame offers several useful insights:
Canopy Arts Desk
Tammy Hampel (Isaacson)
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