26 August 2014

THE FEAR: When artists are afraid of kids

All artists are informed ahead of time of the kids' attendance at their shows, especially when they will sit in the front row of the audience. In some cases, the artists aren't too keen, and request or demand they don't sit up-front, fearing--only fearing, of course--that they might be loud, disrupt the performers, and potentially ruin the whole performance.

Recently, the jury attended a show where, well, let's just say, the artists weren't thrilled about their presence. They didn't want the kids sitting in the first row, and were averse to an announcement of their arrival. This type of situation is complicated for us, the festival and the artists to deal with, and raises a whole slew of questions in trying to solve it. Who gets what they want? Who wins? We don't want to upset anyone, but we also have our own show to run--the CCA jury is, after all, a performance within the festival itself, the artists players within it. 

The answer is never clear. It depends on the reasons the artists give for not wanting the kids there, and the options we the jury have as alternatives. Of course we respect the wishes of the artists and the performers; they are, after all, who we are here to see. We have no desire to threaten or destroy their performance, their artistry, their moment of glory; it's not at all what we set out to do. But at the same time--do they have a right to choose who is in their audience, who is buying the tickets to see them? Should they have that right? If we weren't talking about kids, but people all of a certain background or race or sex, wouldn't such a demand be considered discrimination? I know that goes a little far--but you can see my point. Their fear is based in assumptions about what the kids MIGHT do, according to the "typical" behaviour we culturally associate with children. Which doesn't seem exactly fair.

In the end, we usually try to compromise. On this occasion, we sat in the second row rather than the first, appeasing their requests to an extent--but not foregoing our attendance. Sure, there were a few coughs and sighs from the kids--but they didn't emit much more than the adult in the first row who had a coughing attack and proceeded to slowly unwrap a crunchy candy. After the show, the jury received compliments from one of the lead performers on their behaviour--proving the fears to be unfounded, demonstrating that kids won't necessarily behave the way we 'expect' they will. 

We get fear, we all have it. But please, as you would with anyone else, don't judge kids before giving them a chance. And if you're truly terrified, let's do as Snoop Dogg says in our CCA party-car song -"wiggle wiggle wiggle"- and figure out a compromise that works for all of us, each of us wiggling a bit on either side. Let's not allow fear to run the show.