Posted by JJ Conductor, 2012-07-06 07:04 BST
I've read this post a half-dozen times over the past few months. I think it one of the most interesting ongoing topics in the juggling world. I mostly agree with Orinoco's post. There are a few details I disagree with (for example I don't think it has changed much since the 90's).
I thought of this topic again because we are nearing the time of year when the big week-long festivals happen. I remember how disillusioned I was when I found out that some jugglers are paid (to varying degrees) to go to festivals. I was always under the impression that all the performers were volunteers, and no different from the rest of us. As an organizer, I found out that is far from true. There are actually jugglers who are "working the circuit". The cost is minimal, and most/many organizers will gladly pay it, but it still saddens me when I hear of performers who demand a "honorarium" and/or special compensations.
I think Orinoco is right. There is a "cult of celebrity" that is huge in the world, including the juggling community. People like stars. To paraphrase Voltaire, "if there were no celebrities, it would be necessary to invent them." It may be human nature to want to have heroes.
Orinoco nailed it when he said, "Promoting celebrity status is useful for event organisers because big names draw big crowds, ...." When we talk about an event, either before or afterwards, what we normally talk about is who was there (in the show). It is the common element that everyone at an event shares. So when we rate/rank an event, we often do so largely on how good (star-studded) the public show was.
Nevertheless I don't think this is a very large factor in how well we actually like the event. From experience, I also don't think celebrities draw many extra jugglers to attend an event. For me, at least, a juggling event is primarily about ... well ... juggling. The main "celebrity" attraction for events is all of the "ordinary" jugglers that are our friends. It is that time in the gym that is such a rush. Juggling is about doing, not watching. Yet even I, when asked about a festival, will start talking about the big names who were in the show.
In Conclusion, I think celebrities are part of human nature. We need to realize that and try to work with it. I think juggling celebrities are SO MUCH cooler when they are treated (and act) no different than anyone else. When we put them on a pedestal, I feel in the long run we devalue/undermine both them and the event. I think this is an issue that organizers will have to consider, and guard against. I think it import to try to make/keep juggling events focused on juggling and jugglers, not on celebrities.
last thought: Is Orinoco a juggling celebrity? (Because of posts like this, he makes my list.)