In my previous post, "Want and Need," I asked the question whether any theatre needs 350 - 400 non-profit theatres. There are some who will point at other cities that have a concentration in a certain industry -- say, Silicon Valley -- and discuss the positive creative effects of having the amount of creative interaction such a concentration affords. And there would be great truth to such an argument -- the circulation of talent and ideas ramps up the creative heat, there is no doubt about it.
Here's the difference between the theatre and Silicon Valley: Silicon Valley, despite being concentrated in a small area, is creating products for the world, whereas the theatre creates products for the locality. If the only people who would buy the computer products created in Silicon Valley were people who lived in Silicon Valley, I guarantee that you would soon find the computer business scattered across the globe.
If you cage up 400 dogs and every day feed them only enough food for 40 of them, you will eventually end up with 360 dead dogs and 40 very powerful dogs capable of fighting for their fair share. That is the theory behind the "if I can't make it there, I'll make it anywhere" motto of New York. One might ask whether the strength of the winners is worth the destruction of the losers, or whether the skills developed as a result of the competition are the skills that lead to the best theatre. Cream rises to the top, but so does pond scum. And my bet is that in the bloody remains of the 360 I would likely find quite a few talents that could have added mightily to world's beauty.