Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Read You Some Tony Adams

Wow! Suddenly the theatrosphere is being blessed with long, thoughtful posts about the issues raised by How Theatre Failed America. This time, it's Tony Adams doing a bang-up job. Read the whole thing, but here's a quotation from "Artists as Administrators":

Until more artists take control of the mechanisms of production, take on more of the tasks required to produce theatre, things will only worsen.

If institutions are to place more priority on artists, artists need to be a part of the institutions. The days of an army of artists making a living solely on the boards, never really existed. We need to stop clinging to that notion and take control of our livelihoods. And if more artists were wearing multiple hats: acting and sitting in marketing meetings, directing and working in the audience development offices, stage managing and working the box office, writing plays and grant proposals-- if more artists involved themselves with the day to day operations of theatres, their knowledge and priorities would quickly become a part of the fabric of institutions.

Artists, administrator and audiences would benefit (and probably see better theatre.)

I sometimes suspect that I have not made this point clear enough when I have written about the theatre tribe: this is a business model for entrepreneurs, not employees. The only way to develop one's art is to control its production.
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Anonymous said...

this i agree with 100% - "the workers must control the means of production" LOL

but just because the artists are involved, doesn't mean they will make a living. Chicago is full of small companies just like this -

also - creating a business in a small town means listening to what the customers want just as much or even MORE than trying to foist on them what you want. unless you are willing to slowly educate them and gently toss a beckett in there with the plethora of Guys and Dolls and The Odd couple, and hope that they grow to like it.


Scott Walters said...

No, artists in control doesn't guarantee anything. Is that what is required for change? A guarantee?

In my opinion -- and I have said this numerous times -- doing any kind of theatre in order to make an impact requires that you listen to the customers. Listen, by which I mean be an active part of the community who engages in dialogue with an opem mind and listens for the underlying soul of the community. If you think in terms of polarities like "Beckett" and "Guys and Dolls," then you don't get it. The people who need to be slowly educated are the artists themselves, as well as the community. They need to be educated together.

Rex Winsome said...

tossing in the occasional beckett doesn't work:

You compromise too much and no one is happy.

I'm thinking what we need is a two tiered approach. Small theatres that present fringy works to get new audiences involved, and big theatres who do what the existing audience wants. There should be a relationship and a recognition of the mutual benefit there, with support and cooperation flowing both ways.

In my experience running a small company what happens is we introduce non-theatre people to the stage, we pump a trickle of new blood into the audience of theatre as a medium, and whenever we discover new talent, the big companies and the academy lures them away with false promises of all the things Mike Daisy is pissed that they aren't providing anymore.

if the big companies recognized my company's use to them through increasing interest in theatre as a medium and rewarded it in some way, we would be able to do it more effectively. A mutually beneficial cycle could develop.