The Arts and Social Media or How Soon is .Me

On Friday night the Vancouver Art Gallery opened a major new exhibition of contemporary art. How Soon is Now features BC-based artists practicing in a range of media from painting, sculpture, photography, and video to new media. It was a fantastic opening filled with interesting people and art.

One of the more interesting people in attendance that night was Mustafa Demir, a Vancouver-based website designer. Mustafa recently designed the website and we had a good chat about the launch of this new top level domain.

The domain has an interesting provenance in that it is the byproduct of a declaration of independence by Montenegro from Serbia and Montenegro. It became an official top level domain in September 2007 and has launched publicly (following a very busy Sun Rise and Land Rush period) in June of last year.

When you spend so much of your time online (as I do), visiting specific websites that involve my business and or personal interests, build news feeds and social networks that essentially cater to me, it’s surprisingly easy to lose perspective on new ideas that are developing globally.

I think that’s why the arts captivate my attention. The perspective that a playwright, artist or author from another part of the world brings to my Vancouver-centric viewpoint is critical in keeping me a citizen of the world, and is as important as access to a wifi signal.

How easy to forget that public venues are the inspiration for social media communities. It’s no mistake that we use words like wall, chat and forum to describe online equivalents of activities that take place in the real world. The arts offer a physical space to interact with a cross-section of people that you may not otherwise have a chance to meet. What’s also interesting is that the arts are surprisingly connected to technology.

The arts were early adopters of social media and have used it quite successfully to promote events, build audiences and connect with donors. I would venture that most arts organizations use social media more effectively than businesses do. Being creative in how they promote themselves is a necessity because most arts companies don’t have a wealth of marketing dollars to saturate the marketplace with a brand or message.

If it weren’t for the gallery using social media to let me know about the opening of How Soon is Now, I might not have had the opportunity to meet Mustafa, or start thinking about the wonderfully interconnected world we live in.