This April, I attended the PCA/ACA National Conference along with fellow EMDD students Sean May and Jared Lynch. The mission of the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association is to promote the study of popular culture. They accept papers and presenters from a very wide range of topics from film and TV to depictions of history in popular media, and it was really interesting to see all those different topics represented at the conference. The number of panels available and the topics discussed were just amazing. This year we were incredibly excited to be part of it, and to speak about our project, Remix the Symphony, as part of the Punk Culture section of the conference, which was held in San Diego, CA.
We discussed the findings of our case study, titled “Killing The Symphony So It Can Live: Punk Ethos Applied to Classical Music”. In the study, we chronicled the development of Remix the Symphony, a community outreach experiment created for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. This project was designed to use guerrilla marketing, punk ethos, and DIY aesthetics to bring new audiences to an experience they may have not attended otherwise. Remix the Symphony served as a starting point for examining the effectiveness of using subversive branding to encourage engagement with classical music. This case study concentrated our efforts in applying a punk ethos to reframe millennials’ views about the symphony.
We presented this case study at a panel session with another presenter who discussed a fascinating study of punk within the subculture of Steampunk. We had some interested responses from the panel attendees. After the presentation, we were discovered that many of the people in attendance who were unfamiliar with the design thinking process we used in developing Remix the Symphony saw it as a very punk-inspired method itself, working iteratively from a user-centered perspective. They pointed out that the process echoes the vibrant communities that built up around punk music and other similar cultures, where collaboration was celebrated and people sought to have the voices of everyone represented throughout the culture.
It was my first time attending an academic conference like this, and it was a cool experience to be a part of the event, especially one which hosts panels on such varying topics. The PCA/ACA convention hosts so many different panels that just about anyone could find something in their interest. It also didn’t hurt that the conference was in sunny San Diego. I know Sean, Jared, and I both had a lot of fun exploring San Diego, a city none of us had ever been to before.