Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The closing gap of cultural advancement between rural and urban audiences

There's one (important) factor I forgot to mention in my ad lib 20th century technology list ("gramophone, radio, TV, Internet") of my "new sense of programming" post. It's a less obvious one, but not less important: the ease of travel has changed tremendously.

The invention of 19th century steam trains, steam ships, streetcars/trams, and 20th century automobile and air travel has not only made it easier for (rural) audiences to travel to concerts in the city, it also has made it easier for musicians to tour and perform in more remote locations.

And traveling they did, to communities large and small. Sousa's Band was one of the first large international groups to hit Victoria (in 1892, then a community of about 20.000 people: http://www.britishcolonist.ca/tc/1896/02/04/18960204005.pdf#search=sousas%20%20 - second story from the bottom left), taking advantage of railway and steamship travel.

My wife's grandfather, who's 92, explained to me fairly recently how much the ease of travel has made an impact on day to day life. People living about 20 km outside the city of Victoria didn't travel as easily to the city as we do today: for the majority of people (without a car) such distances were simply too far. Imagine having to do all the effort of having to bike, or go old-style and take a horse and buggy to visit a concert downtown! (only by 1910 were horse and buggy/carriage outnumbered by cars).So question yourself, if travel hadn't changed how large would your audience then be today?

For a long time "city concerts" were visited mostly by those living in the direct vicinity of the venue. Only very few outside the city would have the time, the funds, and were able to muster the effort to travel "long distances"; how much things have changed in a single lifetime.

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