Matt Freeman asks a couple good questions in response to my attempt at a new model for theatre based on church. He asks:
'Another question I have for this new model is "Would it be sustainable to support Equity Actors?"
I think there are two questions here. One is: will Actors Equity support this model? My gut response is: no. Actors Equity is mired in an industrial model of theatre production that was needed in the past, but that has become hopelessly rigid in today's circumstances. It regards theatre not as an art, but as an industry. The effect of Equity on the theatre is a much larger question, and perhaps a later discussion.
The second question might be: would it be sustainable to support actors (and directors and playwrights and designers). I don't know. It might. What I do know is that the current model doesn't provide sustainable support for Equity actors. A review of the annual report from equity shows that most Equity actors are underemployed, and making very little money each year. what makes this unacceptable is that, not only aren't theatre artists making money, but they also aren't having an opportunity to work, and it is only through work that artists improve. If you want the rundown on the bleak 'indie theatre" scene in NYC, read Josh James' post at his Daily Dojo, and to see this isn't just a NYC phenomenon, read Jess Wells' post at Asheville Green Room. The New Model may or may not provide a living wage, but it definitely would provide an opportunity for consistent work.
I also wonder whether there might be a greater inclination for foundations to fund such an endeavor, especially while the model is new.
Matt also notes that I seem "to find the idea of pure marketing a bit distasteful.What is it about simply saying "we need to sell more tickets and here is a way to do it" that makes theater artists, especially the most earnest of us, so incredibly uncomfortable?"
I don't find marketing distasteful, I find it expensive. When I was Chair of the Drama Dept, I handled advertising and marketing for our productions, and each year I found the cost getting higher and higher. In fact, we were spending almost as much money on advertising as we were on the shows themselves! Since we are edu-theatre, it didn't matter that much, but how can non-profit theatres continue to absorb those costs? What I am trying to figure out is an alternative that allows a larger percentage of the budget to be spent on art and artists.
One might consider this a response to SpearBearer Down Left's recent post "Is Theatre a relic?"