Don Hall continues to ridicule the idea of respect and dialogue between a community and its artists, representing it "the blissful world in which the audience informs the artist what is relevant to them." Apparently, the idea that the audience might be seen as a partner rather than a customer is hard for him to swallow. Along with Nicholas Hytner, Don takes a courageous stand in defense of Shakespeare and Mozart against the onslaught of the masses, not unlike Ortega Y Gasset did in The Revolt of the Masses. He quotes Hytner: "Are we going to make over Mozart by making it sound as if it has a dance beat? No we are not! Are we going to translate Shakespeare more than we do already. No we are not!...We have to insist that for the arts to be as revelatory and transformative as they can be, they often have to be quite demanding." Ahem. Why not go the whole hog: "Are we gonna let them rape our women and steal our cattle?"
A commenter, Brian the Director, weary of the ongoing battle, asks "can we talk a little less in abstract terms and a little more in concrete scenarios?" I offer up for your consideration the example of Appalshop, a "non-profit multi-disciplinary arts and education center in the heart of Appalachia producing original films, video, theater, music and spoken-word recordings, radio, photography, multimedia, and books. Appalshop's education and training programs support communities' efforts to solve their own problems in a just and equitable way. Each year, Appalshop productions and services reach several million people nationally and internationally." Visit their website at http://appalshop.org.
There you will find an organization that has committed to the community of Whitesburg KY and the surrounding environs. Whitesburg, a coal mining community that has fallen on hard times, has a population of about 1200 people. Over the years, through the combination of a commitment to a community and a strong mission, Appalshop has grown a substantial endowment that provides considerable income for the organization. It has committed not only to the developing the vision of the individual artists, but to contributing to the community by providing substantive resources and opportunities for high school students to make radio and film documentaries and other projects. Some of those young people go on to join Appalshop as contributing artists, and most of the people involved are drawn from the communities they serve. They build bridges between Appalachian culture and urban culture, especially after several super-max prisons were built outside of town and they realized that the largely black, urban population imported from places like Connecticut were able to receive the signal from their radio station. They responded by creating radio broadcasts just for that population, one that at first caused anger among the Whiteburg population, and soon led to greater understanding and sympathy for the inmates. You can read about this at http://thousandkites.org.
This is a very specific example of how there might be circulation between town and artist. Appalshop is not always looked at kindly by some of the town's citizens -- sometimes they don't like what they say or do -- but they support them nonetheless, and the artists value their interaction. The artists sometimes provoke them, and sometimes they tell their stories, and sometimes they celebrate with them (for instance, the Cumberland Festival).
You can read more about Appalshop here and here.