Listed in the programme of the ACEI 2010 conference on cultural economics today at 19:00 is a free concert at the University of Copenhagen. Music aficionados with opportunity costs of doing something else for the evening would question,”What kind of concert? Who is playing?”
If it were a free concert, I would like to invite my Danish hosts to accompany me. As a delegate I was given no information in the conference pack except for an envelope containing two post-concert drink tickets.
I asked a man at the registration desk, “Where is the concert? Who is playing? Are there seats available to bring other people?”
I could not get a definite answer until I met a professor from the university who had organised the event.
“Nobody is playing,” the grey-haired Dane replied. “It’s a choir.”
“What kind of choir?”
He could not tell me what kind of choir or the name of the choir. I decided not to ask about the programme. “Where is it? Can I bring my friends?”
“It’s at the University. Norreport metro station. 4 minute walk. You can’t miss it. Everyone knows where the University of Copenhagen is.”
“Will there be food or should we have dinner first?”
“Have dinner after the concert at 20:00. But you’re on your own.”
This conversation just goes to show that concerts, like lectures by famous professors and international conferences on cultural economics, are not the main and only attraction. People go to meet other people. People go for community.
I wonder if any other of the 250 delegates bothered to find out the details of this evening concert. Surely as cultural economists they would be weighing the trade-offs of spending their time with other delegates versus some other meaningful activity, such as preparing for their presentations or discussing the intricacies of their research.
Or could I be mistaken by the lure of the two “free drink” tickets? They are incentives for networking, i.e. sit through the concert and stay afterwards to mingle and socialise. The concert serves as a mere gathering point. Who sings what or whatever isn’t imporant. It’s the occasion that counts. And the drinks, of course.