The Daily Memphian - By Elizabeth Rouse, Guest Columnist
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
This quote has always resonated with me and, in my opinion, is particularly relevant right now.
The experience of a live performance is unmatched. It’s electrifying.
Stephen Adams’ and Ja Morant’s full-court pass buzzer-beater last month became the NBA’s most-watched Instagram video of all time, but I would argue it cannot compare to having been in the FedExForum at that very moment.
The symbiotic relationship between the players and the fans that ebbs and flows with enthusiasm, disappointment, and elation is never repeatable.
You simply have to be there to experience it.
The same goes for art and theater. There is a beauty to the movements, sets and sounds, but I find the most beauty in how the audience and performers interact.
There’s an energy that the actors exude that the audience feels and returns in a different way. The engagement is mutual and magical — and, like sports, the full experience is truly only felt live.
A series of recent local arts offerings reignited my love for live events.
Ballet Memphis’ Winter Mix at Playhouse on the Square literally took my breath away; our local dancers are better than ever.
Crosstown Theatre hosted IRIS Orchestra, proving how perfect the space is for literally every art form. I witnessed so many first-timers in Crosstown Concourse who left with an incredible lasting impression.
Then, the reveal of the newly named Overton Park Shell welcomed a huge, diverse crowd enjoying Memphis’ own Lucky 7 Brass Band on the lawn, a picture-perfect preview for a season that includes partnerships with other ArtsMemphis grantees such as Memphis Black Arts Alliance, Memphis Jazz Workshop, Memphis Slim House, and Stax Music Academy.
During the downtime of the pandemic, our reliance on artistic expression became very clear to all of us — both performers and audiences — and so did our interdependence.
That shared energy, coupled with our artists’ drive to take advantage of canceled seasons to hone their skills, has built a collective pent-up inventory of emotion waiting to be unleashed.
Today, our performers are back on stage with erupting emotion. Unique experiences are happening nightly, and our ArtsMemphis calendar is overflowing with the resurgence of enriching programs and performances by our arts organizations. Hundreds are scheduled this spring alone.
Now, they need you. Earned revenue from ticket sales is down 78% from pre-pandemic numbers. If no one is in a seat to witness and motivate the output of our most treasured local talent, can they survive?
Can we grow?
I encourage you to abandon any latent hesitation. Do not let our pandemic habits become our permanent ones. Buy a ticket, bring a friend, and be present.
Support ArtsMemphis so we may continue to fill gaps and foster innovation for our grantees. Together, we have the power to fill the performance venues and push our artists to new heights — and I promise your presence will forever impact you, too.