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« Major money announcement due shortly at Arena Stage | Main | Anthony Louis Mondello, 1919-2006 »

Wednesday, 06 December 2006



That is huge for this area. The Meads have a center!

Lucky Spinster

okay, first of all, my head is exploding because i had given up on you ever posting again and i happen to check in and BAM there are like eleventy-seven posts here.

so thanks but can we work on our consistency of product here, please?

(but who am i to talk.)

all right. here's my question. is there any kind of organization that acts as a liaison between people in the area looking to donate and the eensy-weensy theatres in town? i had two conversations at two different parties last night about this and there seems to be such a disconnect with the smaller theatres.

so many talented, driven people run theatres that consistently do absolutely stunning work with incredible vision and integrity (solas nua, longacre lea, rorschach) and they produce shows for anywhere from $5K to $15K (or less) while most all the artists involved live at or below the poverty level or deplete themselves at soul-crushing jobs.

in no way do i wish to take anything away from arena but it just feels like the rich keep getting richer and it's enough to kill the spirit sometimes. (it's echoic of the trend of big box retail squeezing out boutiques.)

since so many creative types are not necessarily good at the glad-handing part of the biz, it seems like there's a real need for someone to act as a go-between. it seems to me that if donors were educated about which smaller theatres were doing what kind of work that there would bound to be more support for them and that donors would be proud to align with such critically respected theatres.

maybe i was spoiled at macdowell, but i was surprised at what a difference it made to have a fellowship for an entire month to write. i never wanted to believe that money mattered that much--didn't want to give money that much status in my life--and sort of prided myself on being able to write in the midst of working several low-paying arts jobs, but i was amazed at the difference it made in my work. i felt like the product i created came from a deeper and more imaginative place and that my experience there would continue to influence my work for some time.

i can't help but believe that the same would apply if these driven, devoted, and riskier smaller theatres were given support, if they were supported more so they had some breathing room and could expand their vision. the impact on our theatre community's contribution to the national artistic landscape would be immeasurable.

this is a serious problem in our field because even when artists work in the public sector often we have to take service jobs or entry-level office work as a trade-off for scheduling flexibility and benefits. if you factor in inflation and look at the minimum wage, in 1968 your annual salary would be almost $19,000, while today it's just under $11,000. (from wikipedia. and this obviously isn't just a problem for people in the arts.)

it just makes me so sad to hear that one of our most talented artistic directors can no longer work in this country because the INS requires her equally talented partner to earn $30K. so we lose her for at least a year.

a colleague of mine (i'll let you out yourself here if you wish) once had the idea of sexing up our theatre scene with more glossy and glamorous press and photo ops that would intrigue and draw in audience by cultivating the sort of personality-driven cult of celebrity (although i'm giving myself the heebie-jeebies as i type this so i'm not necessarily advocating it myself). money and sex are inextricably linked for worse or worser--might this kind of selling out be worth the buzz and resulting ticket revenue? or is that just embarrassing?

what do other people think? should we be savvier and sexier about our image in this town and promote our hot smaller theatres as the visceral, brainy, imaginative, sexy, authentic, bold, muscular community that it is? seems to me that would draw in audience, if not donors.

please share your opinions. it seems to me there's some sort of fatwa against commenting here. disagree, growl, be ridiculously earnest, laugh, snark, whatever but start talking about what you care about. if not here, then out there.

i guess the midterm elections galvanized me, because we live in a country and work in a field where we have so much freedom and power to change the world. we should take our jobs as citizens and artists seriously and do whatever we can to reach more audience. color me idealistic, but there is too much at stake in the world to not step up.

please forgive the length of the rambling.

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