Sexy. I know. But necessary nonetheless.
Amidst the turbulence and discussion in the Daisey-Olson fracas and of Mike's work in general are two ideas that are often discussed as rather radical new strategies for the American Theatre. They are:
(1) The Artist-Adminsitrator Hybrid
(2) Resident Artist Companies
And both of these are ideas I support, just to make that clear.
Neither of these ideas are particularl radical except in our current American Context. Many theaters in America are run by artist-administrator hybrids (Called "Artistic Directors"), and in Days of Yore Resident Artist Companies were rather commonplace. Also it should be noted that most small and.or fledgling companies are run entirely by artist-administrator hybrids because the core group of people who created the company and does the work onstage are also doing their own marketing etc.
So the question is... why is it so hard to adapt these two things to larger theaters and institutions? One answer is, of course, Institutional Priorities which are a major sticking point for Daisey's How Theater Failed America to begin with. There's also the question of artists being more willing to be identified with one theater and take administrative-artist hybrid jobs (in other words, there's a reorientation of Artist Priorities needed as well, which is one of the reasosn why Mike insists on calling us all to account for the failures of theater).
But there are two practical realities beyond that. One is Money. The other is Time. As theaters increase in size, they need more time from their employees until the point where running them becomes a full time job or a more-than-full-time job. In New York, it's becoming more and more frequent amongst larger theaters to have artistic directors who play no specific artistic role in any show of their seasons. How is someone busting their hump to market a show also going to be able to act in it for six hours a day of rehearsal?
Well, you can always answer... there's the rub, theaters shouldn't necessarily grow to a size where you couldn't staff them at least partially by artist-administrator hybrids. But then we get into the second issue... Money. You know what's fun (and kind of weird) about working at larger institutional theaters? Getting paid okay and treated pretty well. But-- and I think this is one of Olson's points here-- in order to get to the point where they can pay people okay and treat them decently from a material stand point (free Ricolas as far as the eye can see! rehearsals during the day!) some group of people need to be spending their time raising money.
It's difficult to imagine a world in which theaters are smaller and cost more money to run. Or rather, it's difficult to imagine in America. THere are other countries where it's fairly commonplace.
This- in case you're wondering- is one of the reasons I focus so hard on Government arts funding.
But back to this country... the other Money thing is how you go about paying your resident artist companies. Mike and I have both raised at different points the idea of essentially fundraising for staff positions the way you would for your buildings, which is the way dance and opera companies do. Have named endowed artist jobs. The Ford Motor Company Company instead of the Ford Motor Company Lobby, for example. So that's really more of a priorities question.
Money and Time remain persistent issues and as we all go about exploring "new models" they're key factors to keep in mind.