(I want to say real quick that i know there's going to be a lot of blog posts generated about this book, and keeping track of all of them may be far far more than readers really want to do. There is certainly no need for anyone to be comprehensive about this conversation if they don't want to, it should be more like if there's anything that strikes your fancy, leap in!)
Lots of talk in the first chapter about corporatiziation. The argument seems to go something like this: Remember the mythical past when Joe Papp was the model and artistic directors were real leaders and the theaters reflected their individual tastes and distinctive personalities? Well, that's not the case anymore. Artistic Directors are really managers, managing all the people who have some vested interest (Generally financial) in the theater, from the board, to the contributors, to funders to subscribers. And the ADs essentially try to create a theater that will keep enough of those people satisfied to keep the lights on.
In the past, ADs had a vision and found people to support it, in other words, now they try to balance a lot of people's needs. The end result is conservative and unsatisfying. Or, to quote a playwright in the book: "You can't have an artistic system be corporate, because all the corporation is about is making money. The current system neither makes money nor produces good art, so we're in a terrible bind." (emphasis mine).
What do you make of all of this?
Personally, I have a lot of mixed feelings about it. Part of me wonders why we crave dictators and hate democracy, essentially. Why we want a Big Daddy to take care of us in the first place. And that part of me wonders why we still need artistic directors at all. Maybe we needed founders to build these theaters up, but is this still the structure we want, forty years on? I mean, right now we have the structure but don't actually behave according to its rules. We to some extent createed a system that relied on dictators but then tried to create some cheques and balances and give other people representation in the room. The problem? None of those people are artists. Our current system is predicated on the assumption that the AD is the loony artist in the room with his or her big ambitions or grand ideas, and the money people are there to keep everything feasible. But that's not how ADs behave or, according to this study, think. So this doesn't work. Let's maybe throw it out
And on the other hand... I wonder if the problem is simply that a lot of ADs are bad at their jobs, but the structure is basically sound. Or maybe they're good at their jobs and there are simply too many artists for the number of positions out there.