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June 04, 2009


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Typos ?


More courage. More daring. More honesty.


Yeah, I was going to say typos too. ;)
Honestly, it's funding, and the problem doesn't just start with actual theatre companies. The problem can be traced back to the lack of arts education in public schools. People just don't see the arts as important.

Monica Reida

From what I've observed, the lack of funding is causing some theaters to not be as daring with their programming. Or the possibility of losing funding is preventing them from being daring.

So, in short, fear. And typos.


Funding. If the government freely and generously subsidized the shit out of it, we'd be much better off.

Typos will eat you in your sleep.


Sweet mother o'god, where to start. But single big thing? Government subsidy of the arts. Look just about any place that has an exceptionally vibrant theater infrastructure, and you'll find widespread public support because tickets are cheap because government -- whether civic or national -- underwrites production costs.

Needless to say, I mean government support without censorship or other forms of "oversight" -- not the ham-fisted Shakespeare-mongering of the NEA in recent years.

S.P. Miskowski

Irrelevance. Most of it is irrelevant.

Joshua James

What SP said.

And the fact that it's expensive yet doesn't compensate it's artists nearly as well as its administrators.

Eric Ziegenhagen

With the caveat that I might change my mind 180% on another day, I would say funding, but for the opposite reason as Jaime. By removing itself from the marketplace, theater organizations are removing themselves from the necessary innovation and the rewards that restaurants, stores, internet start-ups, gyms, bars, and other businesses undergo. I understand that theater organizations deserve to be in the company of museums and orchestras, but if, in 2009, chef-driven restuarants offer a liminal three-hour experience for $65 (without subsidy) and are directly competing with theaters in this regard, it's a good time to compare and test alternate models.

Lee Moyer

Funding, yes. But I think that Eric Ziegenhagen has got it right.

I think there's an emphasis on production in theatre without the slightest understanding of the marketplace for entertainment and ideas. Unless you understand that theatre needs to recruit the young and keep them involved, productions will become increasingly niche and irrelevant as their demographic ages. A vital community-based advertising and PR campaign should not be an afterthought. And the productions (our product) need to offer value in a world of RockStar and X-Boxes, and Miley Cyrus.


I think that the historic non-profit model is not sustainable in the new economy - by which I mean the economy of information and ideas, not the current recession. Non-profit arts organizations need to become more entrepreneurial, smarter, street-savvy, and responsive.

Apologies for the "typos" comment, Isaac. I have trouble keep my inner-smart-ass under control.

mark lord

OK, there are a LOT of problems, but the BIGGEST problem is that there's too much of it. There are too many theaters, too many plays get produced, and everyone makes too much work. If everyone made half as much...they could rehearse for twice as long, write twice as many drafts, let themselves think about what they REALLY want to do for twice as long...critics could think before they write...and I'd have half as much I have to see...it might be twice as good.


That it's run by white men.

And it's really hard to get taken seriously if you are not one.


lack of courage


Little theatres that have the guts to do great crazy shit don't have the money to build an audience, and big theatres that have the money to build an audience freak out about losing it if they do great crazy shit.


Institutional Memory.

The words may be a lil' oximoronic, but that aside, reinventing the wheel is a chronic problem in the theater community, and I think it's about to get worse. Recessions are typically a time when longstanding organizations with fragile infrastructures finally kick the bucket. When this happens we lose a lot of good people.

On the upside, there is a rebirth that follows, and new groups and new people rise up to fill the voids. This could be a great thing for theater, but we need to find better ways to have smarter people that are ready and in position to lead us into the future, and not just into making the same ole mistakes, yet again.


Risk-taking that results in quality theatre.

Not just that there's too much crap (well said Mark Lord), but we're losing critics, and losing our own abilities as practitioners to criticize in a way that helps to produce better work. We also have forgotten that criticism is necessary for the artistic growth of both artists and audiences.

Which probably means that what we really need is a way by which artists (not just administrators) can make a living wage by making art, which leads back to Mark Lord's idea that it would be good to spend more time on the work.

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