Thursday, July 06, 2006

Michael Billington Gets It

In his article "Location, Location, Location," Guardian critic Michael Billington discusses the recent resignation of Robyn Archer as Artistic Director of Liverpool's 2008 City of Culture festival. The important paragraph:

"This raises a much bigger question. Who is best equipped to run a city's cultural jamboree? Without being unduly parochial, I'd suggest it is someone with an understanding of local needs. Robyn Archer made a big success of Adelaide in 1992, as Jim Sharman had in 1982, because she was clued in on Australian tastes. But, intriguingly, the American director, Peter Sellars, was invited to succeed Robyn in Adelaide and was eventually forced to quit. The irony is that Sellars, an artistic and political radical, tried to give Adelaide a "local" festival: one based on an ambitious programme of South Australian films and Aboriginal art and drama. All very admirable; except that Adelaide, by virtue of its geographical isolation, looks forward every two years to the importation of some of the great orchestras and theatre companies from around the world. In short, it's a matter of horses for courses: festivals, in my experience, are best created by people who possess not just taste and vision but an awareness of the cultural context." (ital mine)

I would argue that this is not just true of festivals, but of all arts organizations, especially theatres. Look at the buzzsaw that Kevin Spacey is running into at the Old Vic. You must be aware of what a community needs, which means you must be a part of that community and not just a visitor.

No comments: