Today’s portmanteau

This morning, a message from a friend about events sponsored by the Bay Area CSMA (Community School of Music and Arts), including:

Anonymous 4 – Stanford Lively Arts Informance [November 19]

“Informance?”, my friend wrote.

Yes, informance. The OED has an entry for informance ‘informing, information’, but notes that it is rare after the 17th century. But another entry (OED3, March 2010) has the sense we want, a portmanteau “of either informative adj. or information n. and performance n.”:

A performance intended to be both educational and entertaining; esp. a musical concert which includes an informative talk about the piece or instruments being played.

There are cites from 1970 on, but most of them have the word in quotation marks, indicating that the writer didn’t expect readers to be familiar with the term. More recent occurrences take it for granted (at least in the world of arts education):

Yesterday, my second graders presented a wonderful informance as a part of a “project based learning” immigration project that I completed with the second grade teachers. My students learned about Maria von Trapp, her life, why she and her family immigrated to America, and the differences between the facts about her life and how the movie portrayed her life. Finally, we completed the project with a heritage celebration that ended with the second graders stating facts about Maria’s life and singing songs from the movie, The Sound of Music. It was a great day, a great informance, and a great unit.

When the students performed the informance yesterday, it was informal, it was in a classroom, they gave information about what they had learned, they sang the songs, and the parents had a wonderful time. This differs from our performances, which are on stage, includes numerous grades instead of one grade, focuses on the nine MENC National standards and does not include the classroom curriculum. The outcome of the parents having a wonderful time is still present in either the performance or the informance.

Which do you prefer: Informance or Performance or both? I prefer both. (link)

In a separate development, information and performance have been combined on other occasions, for example in the name of a British company:

At Informance business intelligence is our business. We specialise in delivering tailored solutions that help organisations of any size and industry to improve profitability and gain competitive advantage by seeing the true picture of their business. (link)


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