Placeholder Image

字幕表 動画を再生する

  • ROBIN KELSEY: Good afternoon.

  • Good afternoon!

  • AUDIENCE: Good afternoon.

  • ROBIN KELSEY: Thank you.

  • I needed that.

  • I never teach at 2:00 PM because it's my nap time,

  • so now you've got me all charged up.

  • I love Melissa Franklin.

  • If I were sitting where you are, I would be thinking,

  • I want to come to Harvard and study physics.

  • But you can't all study physics because we

  • don't have that many physics faculty.

  • So some of you are going to have to study the arts and humanities.

  • And the arts and humanities aren't as funny as physics.

  • [CHUCKLING]

  • No, it's true.

  • It's really a matter of scale.

  • Things are very funny when they're cosmically scaled,

  • or when they're really tiny.

  • But we sit there at the scale of Samuel Beckett,

  • where things get very deadly serious.

  • So if at any point, I get too serious, just

  • think of one of the hundreds of funny things that Melissa said,

  • and you can laugh.

  • One of the reasons we're not funny is we have notes.

  • We use notes which are not funny, but they're very, very precious.

  • So-- [CHUCKLES] yeah.

  • Notes are very precious.

  • OK.

  • So today, I am not going to be offering you any answers to important questions.

  • In fact, I'm just going to pose a few questions.

  • Harvard is a great university, in my view,

  • not because it has all the answers, but because the people here

  • ask important questions, and they work together on coming up with answers.

  • And the questions I'm going to pose today

  • are about the future of cultural space.

  • Now, what do I mean by cultural space?

  • I mean the museum, the library, the concert hall, the theater,

  • the movie theater, the dance center, the public park.

  • I mean those spaces in which we gather to experience culture.

  • To experience human creativity together.

  • These spaces are incredibly important in our civic life.

  • In fact, our governments-- whether local or national--

  • situate these spaces in the center of our civic geography.

  • They do that because we are anchored as a people by our culture.

  • The most well-known and celebrated of our cultural spaces in America--

  • spaces such as Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum, the New York

  • Public Library, Disney Hall--

  • I thought of Disney Hall because of Walt Disney,

  • but I'm not going to make any jokes about Disney Hall--

  • the Smithsonian, these spaces are touchstones of national identity.

  • But our local movie theater, our town public library

  • are no less central to civic life on a smaller scale.

  • These places where we gather and we attend to

  • and honor human creativity, human efforts

  • to find meaning, beauty, empathy, and understanding

  • are really essential to our humanity.

  • Now, I'm showing you an example of a cultural space that's important to me.

  • I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

  • Marshall University High School has a kind of elite ring to it.

  • Don't let that fool you.

  • There was no university--

  • except the University of Minnesota, which was nearby--

  • related to my high school, which was distinctly public.

  • But I was very, very fortunate in having parents

  • who took advantage of the cultural riches of Minneapolis and St. Paul,

  • which are extensive, which is a very fortunate thing.

  • And in particular, my parents loved to take me to the theater.

  • And the theater in Minneapolis, from the flagship Guthrie Theater--

  • are there any people here from Minnesota?

  • AUDIENCE: Woo!

  • ROBIN KELSEY: Yeah?

  • All right.

  • Good.

  • All right.

  • Yeah.

  • The theater in Minneapolis, from the flagship

  • Guthrie Theater, to smaller theaters, such as the Mixed Blood

  • Theater in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood,

  • near where I grew up, the Penumbra Theater in St. Paul, really fantastic.

  • So this is where this issue of cultural space

  • has particular significance to me.

  • Here.

  • This is the clicker.

  • Yes?

  • No?

  • MARLYN MCGRATH: Try the other one.

  • ROBIN KELSEY: What other one?

  • The duck?

  • MARLYN MCGRATH: No.

  • ROBIN KELSEY: Oh.

  • This.

  • This?

  • Oh, OK.

  • Good.

  • All right.

  • But today, cultural spaces are under considerable challenge and strain.

  • And one reason is probably obvious to you,

  • which is the rise of digital networks and electronic devices.

  • Those in charge of our libraries are wondering,

  • what is a library when our smartphone can bring us

  • more information and knowledge than thousands of books ever could?

  • Those in charge of our theaters, movie theaters, and other performance venues

  • are wondering, how do we get people to come see our shows when so many films

  • and shows are streaming into our homes?

  • So for many of these cultural spaces, this is an existential threat.

  • But even for our cultural spaces such as the art museum that

  • have an easier time making the case that they are delivering

  • unique experiences to visitors, patterns of usage

  • are changing radically in this digital moment.

  • In particular, the popularity of social media and the selfie

  • have very much changed the experience of art museums.

  • And museum directors and staff are scrambling

  • to negotiate this different way of being in the art museum.

  • Exhibitions are being arranged to accommodate the making of selfies,

  • and even new museum spaces are being designed

  • to accommodate the making of selfies.

  • Restaurants-- which can be cultural spaces in their own right--

  • are thinking about questions of lighting and background, and the extent to which

  • that they can make the culinary offerings more Instagrammable.

  • [CHUCKLING]

  • No, I kid you not.

  • I kid you not.

  • In addition, cultural tastes and desires are changing.

  • Many traditional forms of culture require people to sit still,

  • like you're doing, and pay attention-- as you seem to be doing,

  • which is fabulous--

  • for long periods of time to go see the ballet, or the opera, and so forth.

  • In fact, this particular lecture style-- the kind of TED talk, 10, 15 minutes--

  • was unheard of 30 years ago.

  • You would have had to sit through us going on for an hour.

  • So attention spans.

  • Demands for interactivity are changing when

  • people become more accustomed to these fluid and flickering screens,

  • and with their interactivity.

  • So this is changing demand in cultural spaces as well.

  • Although I'm not saying in this that young people don't have the attention

  • span to go to the opera and so forth.

  • I actually think a lot of that concern has been overblown.

  • But nonetheless, these are important considerations.

  • There is also the exceedingly important issue of inclusion.

  • Whose culture gets exalted?

  • Who gets invited and welcomed into our cultural spaces?

  • Who can afford to buy a ticket?

  • Many of us are deeply concerned with the urgency

  • of making our cultural spaces more welcoming to more people.

  • And I show you a scene from Lin-Manuel Miranda's brilliant musical Hamilton,

  • which is in fact a very complicated emblem for this issue.

  • On the one hand, it tells a historical story that principally

  • involves white men and women.

  • On the other hand, the casts are predominantly people of color.

  • On the one hand, it brings a kind of rap or hip hop sensibility

  • to the mainstream of Broadway.

  • On the other hand, the ticket prices are so high that unless you're wealthy,

  • you can't possibly attend without considerable sacrifice.

  • So these challenges are formidable.

  • And they have led me to become very interested

  • in the future of cultural space.

  • How do we address these challenges?

  • How do we design cultural spaces for the 21st century?

  • I've come to this interest in part through becoming--

  • gasp-- an administrator.

  • Because I'm really trained as a historian of photography.

  • So I'm trained at looking at pictures and considering historical evidence.

  • I have no training in-- well, I have training in law,

  • but that's kind of accidental.

  • I don't have training in architectural design and planning.

  • But I have been brought as an administrator at Harvard

  • as someone who serves on all too many committees.

  • I've brought into teams that have designed new cultural spaces here.

  • So I was part of a team that created a new art

  • lab across the river officially opening in September,

  • but it's already being used.

  • A fabulous new facility for experimentation

  • in the arts where works in progress are shared with various audiences.

  • I was part of a team that renovated one of our museum buildings

  • to add new spaces for art-making, for architectural design,

  • and for art history.

  • And I'm currently part of the team that is

  • working on creating a new home for the American Repertory theater

  • across the river.

  • And this is incredibly exciting work.

  • And I'm incredibly grateful to be a part of it.

  • It has convinced me that it is very important for Harvard

  • to revitalize its cultural spaces.

  • But more important, it has convinced me that the design--

  • and I mean that conceptually as well as architecturally-- the design

  • of cultural spaces is one of the most pressing and vital questions

  • of our time.

  • Now, why do I say it is vital?

  • It's vital because it's vital that, as a people,

  • we are not simply a group of consumers, or a group of users,

  • or a group of data points.

  • It is really important that we are bound together

  • through culture, and through the mutual recognition of the importance

  • and value of cultural difference.

  • And I do not believe, as connected as Rob Lue is going to make us--

  • and I'm sure he's going to make us very connected--

  • I believe we still need to come together bodily, physically,

  • into places to experience one another's humanity,

  • and to experience the power of culture to bring us together.

  • So to my mind, this is an exceedingly important question.

  • Now, when I come across what I think is a really interesting new question,

  • I am reminded again of how great it is to be at Harvard.

  • And on this occasion, I accidentally had a conversation

  • with a colleague-- a professor named Jerold Kayden in the Graduate

  • School of Design.

  • Turns out he was thinking about these same questions

  • about the future of cultural space.

  • And within about an hour scribbling on stray pieces of paper,

  • we decided that we should really work on this problem together.

  • And one of the great things about universities

  • is that they have a tremendous engine of intellectual inquiry.

  • And that engine is called the classroom.

  • So this fall, rather belatedly, Jerold and I

  • put together a general education course on the future of cultural space.

  • We submitted it at the 11th hour, crossed our fingers,

  • and fortunately, it was approved.

  • So we taught it this spring.

  • It was a course we limited to about 30 students

  • because it was really an experiment, and we

  • wanted to create a kind of seminar-like atmosphere.

  • And each week, we thought about a different cultural space.

  • One week, the library.

  • Another week, the museum.

  • Another week, the public park.

  • And each week, we brought in a leading expert

  • in the design or the oversight of such a cultural space.

  • So some of you may know The Shed opened to enormous publicity in New York City.

  • Well, Liz Diller, who was the principal architect of The Shed,

  • came and spoke to our class even as this hubbub was taking place.

  • And she talked about the fact that The Shed was designed

  • around the wheels that move this enormous skin backward

  • and forward so that you can have an enclosed interior space,

  • or you can have an exterior space.

  • We had Mitch Silver, who is the head of the New York City park system

  • come and talk about public parks as cultural spaces,

  • and the art projects that he is overseeing.

  • We had Joana Vicente, who is the new executive director of the Toronto

  • International Film Festival, come to talk

  • about the future of the movie theater.

  • We had Rebecca Robertson, who runs the Park Avenue Armory in New York

  • come and talk about the Armory, which is a regeneration of an obsolete space,

  • which is a type of cultural space that we were very interested in.

  • And so these practitioners would come.

  • They would speak for about 30, 40 minutes.

  • And then for about an hour and a half, they would be grilled by the students

  • and by Jerold and me about, what are we to be thinking about as we

  • design these spaces for the future?

  • And teaching this class has been exhilarating.

  • I have