Know Your Audience!

Posted by on Oct 8, 2013 in Blog | No Comments

Tonight I saw a screening Captain Phillips, the new Tom Hanks film or Paul Greengrass film, depending on whether you are actor- or director-oriented. ?There was a Q&A following with Hanks, Greengrass, and Barkhad Abdi who were all charming and took the questions seriously no matter how off point or ridiculous. ?After the film, my friend and I were talking about what a difference a good Q&A can make. ?And those are usually the ones where the stars and director talk more allowing less time for crazy questions. ?A good Q&A can open up a film in ways that the audience don’t often have the time or inclination to do on their own. ?That’s what a good reviewer tries to do as well. ?It started me thinking on the flip side of that: ?how important it is to know your audience and the perils when you don’t. ?That in turn gave rise to what is the point of the Vitality Index or any tool that helps politicians, office holders, etc. know the people they are serving. ?That is really the point. ?How can be get at that information and what happens when we don’t. ?Combine this with Paul Krugman’s column in today’s NYT about the Republican bubble and incompetence. ?You get some idea of why Washington doesn’t function. ?Bubble plus incompetence equals nothing good. ?Why did Christine Quinn lose the mayor’s race in New York? ?Somehow she completely misunderstood what the citizens of a city she has been serving for years really wanted in the next mayor. ?It’s hard to believe that if she had tried harder to listen better, she would have heard a different message and that is that they wanted change.

As I continue to think about the best uses of the Vitality Index and what kinds of contributions it can make to better cities, I am convinced – and this also comes from my theatre experience – that it is imperative to know your audience.

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