To tweet or not to tweet during a performance. That is the question posed, on Twitter, of course, by the National Endowment for the Arts. It turns out that the question of allowing social media use during live performance is fraught with contention and, in some cases, disgust at the very idea. The responses continued for more than a week! That’s a long life for conversation limited to social media and 140 character replies.
Reactions to #2tweetornot2tweet ranged from this by @margogray:
“Tweet seats & tweet-friendly performances have grt potential for artist/aud interaction, like live DVD extras! @NEAarts #2tweetornot2tweet”
to this by @AnikaNoniRose:
“@NEAarts @operaomaha Tweeting during a performance is simply rude. Also, distracting for both the audience and performers”
As an arts organization, our primary focus is to bring live performance to the stage and into the community for an audience. When talking about anything that we do at Opera Omaha, the question is always, “How do we build our audience?” The possible applications of social media offer new opportunities with very little or no financial investment. This is a big deal in our world of growing expenses and shrinking budgets.
Although we were a little ahead of the #2tweetornot2tweet conversation on Twitter, it was a tweet by Palm Beach Opera that pushed us into having “the talk” within our own organization. This was the tweet that set us into motion, from @palmbeachopera:
“Registration to participate in Tweetseats for La Traviata is OPEN now! http://pbopera.org/tickets/tweet-seats/ … Space is limited, so reserve your spot now.”
After a message of encouragement from our Chair of Long Range Planning, some internet-based research, and a chat with Ceci Dadisman at Palm Beach Opera, we made a decision. Opera Omaha will be stepping into the social media tide pool known as “Tweet Seats” during the final dress rehearsal of our April, 2013 production, Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle.
Initially, we’re offering Tweet Seats only during the final dress rehearsal, limiting the number of Tweet Seats to 10-15, inviting participants from our list of current Twitter followers, and will have a list of guidelines for our tweeters. The decision to offer Tweet Seats turned out to be an easy one. Our goal as a company is to share the productions that we, and the singers, work on all year long with a larger, more diverse audience. This is just one way to reach out. We’re willing to give it our best shot.