Showing posts from March 7, 2010

Announcing New CRADLE Website and Blog

I am thrilled to announce that the website for the Center for Rural Arts Development and Leadership Education (CRADLE) has just launched a new website and blog. I'd like to thank Charles Olbert (my stepson, in the interest of transparency) for his excellent hard work in creating the site. (He does terrific work, and if you have a website you need designed, check out his work at

This website is the first stage of the development of the CRADLE project. It is my intention to make it an information and communication hub for people in the field of rural and small town arts development. Over time, I will continue to add annotated links to on-line reports and resources, and books that might be of interest to the field. I also intend to begin doing a podcast in the future, and provide a variety of ways (Skype conference calls, threaded discussions, even in-person conferences) to increase communication.

There is also a link to the TACT (Theatre Arts Curriculu…

Please, Please Stop the Madness

So in the February 24th edition of Stage Directions Magazine, there is an article entitled "URTA Launches National Showcase Calendar." The calendar "provides a way of tracking the many school showcases produced each spring in New York City." Here is the money quote as far as I am concerned:
Each spring more than 70 schools with professional MFA and/or BFA programs in acting, performance and musical theatre produce showcases in theatres throughout the Big Apple. With some schools offering both BFA and MFA degrees, more than 80 showcases are presented over the months of March, April and early May. Each showcase seeks to introduce a graduating class of performers to casting directors, agents and other professionals in the nonprofit and commercial theatre, and in related industries from cruise line productions and corporate industrials to advertising, film and television. Showcases allow training programs to provide invaluable assistance to graduates transitioning into …

Tom and My SETC Presentation Now On-Line

Over at our blog TACT (Theatre Arts Curriculum Transformation), Tom Loughlin has been good enough to provide a link to our SETC presentations slides and a recording of the presentation. The volume isn't great -- we were moving around a lot while using a stable mike -- but at least you can listen if you want. Thanks, Tom!

Ian David Moss and the Quality of Discussion

Over at Createquity, Ian David Moss is comments on his post "Economists Don't Care About Poor People" -- one is, apparently, from his boss, which shows a willingness to exchange ideas in marked contrast to the oh-so-careful-about-my-career theatreosphere.

From my extremely limited knowledge of economics (although in the interest of transparency, I should admit that one of my best friends on campus is an economist, and I do spend money fairly regularly, so I guess that makes me an expert), I would like to say that I agree with Ian's distrust of the neoclassical approach to economics, which might have been relevant in the society for which it was designed, a society in which sellers and buyers were more likely to know each other and emotional advertising was not a constant mind-addling drumbeat, but in our media-saturated global marketplace it seems decidedly out of touch.

However, what I would draw my reader's attention to is the level of discourse exhibited in t…

Tom Loughlin on Indie Theatre and Gentrification

In what I suspect will be a controversial post (but lately, what non-mainstream post isn't controversial) entitled "The Indie Theatre Ghetto," Tom Loughlin discusses data from the Innovative Theatre Fund Demographic Survey of OOB Practitioners that reveals a disconnect between Indie Theatre and the surrounding city. RTWT, but here is the final paragraph:
The biggest question I know of in theatre is “Who is theatre for?” At least in the early part of the 21st century, the data seems to tell us that theatre is primarily for immigrant/urban, ghettoized white people. I think this should change. Sure, I think white people should have a theatre that’s reflective of their community, their history and their values. But I don’t think they should overtake urban areas to do so. It smacks of colonization and a “gold rush” mentality, where the indigenous population gets run out or ignored. We can, and we should, be able to do better than this.As someone once said, sacred cows make the…

My Life in Theater, or Notes from an Audience Member

[As my readers know, before I left for SETC, I invited my wife, Laura, to be a guest blogger in my absence. Unfortunately, she was unable to do so, but today she wrote the following post, which I am pleased to share with you.]

Why do I go to plays? Because I'm The Prof's wife. That would be the easy answer. But not the true one. Or rather, only the partial one. I grew up in the small town of Lexington, VA. My parents had to work with a group of parents to bring a dance teacher in from Roanoke, 55 miles away, so that a handful of little girls who were interested could take classes in tap and ballet. We had two colleges--but both were men's colleges, one of which was VMI. It was not an arts-rich environment. Nonetheless, I had a grandmother who was a drama queen. She had wanted to sing opera when she was younger, and after her children were grown she did a lot of little theater work. She was a diva with all the mental illness that the name implies. One thing she did, though,…

Ben Cameron on the Artistic Reformation

(Big h/t to Andrew Taylor)
Below is a video of former TCG director (now Doris Duke head) Ben Cameron at the Calgary TEDxYCC. If you listen carefully to his message, delivered articulately and passionately, you will hear many of the same themes I am sounding in CRADLE.

Cameron compares the current situation in the arts to the Protestant Reformation, which was driven by technology (the printing press) and fueled by the question of who was allowed to practice. And while Cameron acknowledges that the Reformation didn't eliminate the traditional church (i.e., the existing arts institutions, which bafflingly he refers to as the only opportunity for "economic dignity" for the artist -- really?), it did lead to a revolution in all aspects of society.

Today, Cameron goes on, the means of production and distribution have been democratized, and he notes that while arts audiences are shrinking, arts participation is exploding. He goes on to laud what he calls the "hybrid artist…


So I just spent about an hour writing a detailed response to this, and then...well, I just started laughing. I laughed about the idea of Don "you're a douchebag" Hall addressing a class at Columbia College about "arts journalism." (What next? Tiger Woods giving a seminar on fidelity?) I laughed about what kind of overblown sense of self-importance leads him and XXX to think that they can serve as judge and jury about another blogger. But mostly I laughed at myself for getting upset over this.

In the interest of what Don calls "transparency," here is my policy regarding commenters:
Any person who comments on this blog, known to me or not, is treated with the same level of anonymity. That anonymity is set by the commenter, not by me. That has been my policy since I started blogging, and will continue to be my policy in the future. If the commenter wants to be completely anonymous, that is their choice (my blog allows anonyous commenters); if the commente…