Festival 2011!

Gracias.  Merci.  Xie Xie.  Arigato.  Shukran.  Pilomniya.  Toda.  Danke.  Dziekuje.  Thank you.  It’s not a very complicated phrase in any language, but an extremely important one, ranking right up there with “Peace” or “I Love You.”  And, it is the one we want to focus on this year as we think about you, our audience.

 Over the years I have used this panel to acknowledge the brilliance of the artists who come from the Bay Area and all over the world to perform in the festival.  That is still the case, but what is just as important is that none of this would matter if it were not for the audience....

So thank you.  If it were not for you, we would be performing to a room full of empty seats, there would be no feedback or atmosphere, no applause, no-one to dress up for, no pre-performance nerves, no stepping into the limelight, no tours, no productions, no business!  You are as essential a part of the equation as the actor, the dancer, the choreographer or the director.  Just as the technicians, administrators, attorneys and designers all play vital roles in bringing a performance to the stage, so does the audience.  And, if it wasn’t for you we could not do it.

As such, we hope that for taking the time to be with us and making the effort to travel to an actual–rather than virtual–environment, you will be rewarded in having seen something remarkable imparted by live human beings presenting their craft in the same physical venue as you.

This has been the deal for over 2,500 years.  Be it ancient Greeks in masks, or the liturgical choruses stretching back to New Testament times as emulated by Teatr Zar, or anything else you might see at the Festival this year.  The idea that there is a transformative truth in quality live performance holds firm.  Perhaps for most of this time, the audiences’ entertainment options were more limited. Not so today.  There is literally a universe of ways anyone can constructively pass their time without even opening their front door, let alone traversing the realities of urban transit.

So it makes us more keenly aware of just how important a part of the formula the audience is, and the old thespian adage of “my audience loves me” has taken on a new dimension–or at least a new direction in that the artist to audience relationship is fast becoming a more two way street.  We need to engage you to compete for your attention–hopefully in doing so we are deepening the experience that you have and it will be something you can carry with you on your own journey.

Ultimately, the performing arts is an especially symbiotic enterprise, so let’s celebrate us, because we are all in this together.

Welcome to the San Francisco International Arts Festival. Thank you.

– Andrew Wood, Executive Director