« Really, This Must be Read to Be Believed | Main | Look Out, Nerds! »

May 26, 2009

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

99

I've been meaning to blog about this at my place, but here's a teaser: full, open-source budgeting. One of the vaguely unsettling things about the old Daisey-Olson throwdown (and one of the reasons I think it has fallen off that radar) was the way that ATC's budget and financials were somehow proprietary information. Which is a bit ridiculous for a non-profit institution supposedly set up to do a public good. So I say: open-source it. Theatres should, before the season, ask their donors to comment on their budget, as full and complete a budget as they can put together. Down to artist fees and salaries and including staff fees and salaries, physical plant costs, marketing, the whole kit-and-caboodle. Maybe it will be embarassing. Maybe the actual donors would prefer to have their money go to the actors rather than the artistic directors. Maybe they'll have a good idea of where to shave some money off. It could go many, many ways. But that would be one small step to making theatres healthier, I'd think.

One NYC Stagehand

I suggest that you check out some of the work of Ray Rogers and his work with Corporate Campaign, Inc. He has been the driving force behind the JP Stevens campaign, Hormel, Coca Cola, R.J. Reynolds and others. Also recommended is "The Death Of A Thousand Cuts" by Jarol B. Manheim, 2001.

Ultimately if there is ignorance about the conditions of artists and people working in the arts, it is our fault for not using the platforms we have been given.

Tommer

Bravo, Isaac!

Adam

I weigh in here:

http://missionparadox.typepad.com/the_mission_paradox_blog/2009/05/the-link-between-college-football-and-artists.html

Ben TS

If we're going after the really big non-profits (and we have to go after them if we want to create change), the truth is that the "conditions" they provide artists can seem a lot cushier than they are. Taking into account boarding costs, the really big regional houses (Guthrie, ACT, ART) shell out money that approaches Broadway salary levels.

So I agree wholeheartedly that targeting donors and subscribers is the way to go. But I think we have to argue that creating permanent artist positions is good for the commercial viability of the theatre. Because a lot of the stupid business decisions that impoverish artists are the same stupid business decisions that are killing American theatre financially.

A big thing that would help here is to create local "alliances" of theatre artists. Not unions, but groups of actors, directors and writers who can band together to accomplish specific goals: more local representation, resident positions, more community engagement. Producers in Boston, Seattle, and Philly have their own consortiums. Why the hell can't the artists?

Sterling

The only real solution to low wages in the performing arts is to come up with an efficient talent-driven business model that generates enough wealth to create a commercial need to acquire and reward talent with higher wages. Ultimately, any other approach will only be a short-term band-aid solution.

August

Great post, Isaac. I think there are some potential solutions emerging from social networking that could bypass institutions and connect audiences and artists directly in creating work. The post got long, so I posted it on the Flux blog.

http://fluxtheatreensemble.blogspot.com/2009/05/endowed-artist-chairs-vs-social.html

cgeye

The only people other than theatre staff listed in programs, no matter how poor the company or how minimal its advertising, are its donors.

Usually those upscale donors donate to other institutions, attend galas, have a trackable public face, plus listings of where they work or what their foundations are. It shouldn't be too hard to find out how to contact them discreetly, to sound out whether those individuals would respond to a greater shareholder activist posture.

RVCBard

A big thing that would help here is to create local "alliances" of theatre artists. Not unions, but groups of actors, directors and writers who can band together to accomplish specific goals: more local representation, resident positions, more community engagement.

The question now becomes: what's stopping us?

Ian Thal

Who says we're being stopped?

Small Theatre Alliance of Boston

Oh yeah, Boston isn't really a theatre city. Silly me.

RVCBard

Ian,

That wasn't me.

Ian Thal

Yeah, but Isaac has described Boston as "http://parabasis.typepad.com/blog/2010/02/give-em-enough-rope.html>a city not exactly known for good theatre", so I try to remind myself in case I get uppity and post about Boston theatre artists.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo
Blog powered by Typepad

# of Visitors Since 11/22/05


  • eXTReMe Tracker