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Showing posts from December 27, 2009

David Byrne on Arts Funding

This blog post by Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne, entitled "Art Funding or Arts Funding," is scary in many ways, and I suppose it is very possible to make a case against what Byrne has to say. And of course, as a musician who made his fortune in the public forum, Byrne has a particular viewpoint that informs his words. As a former Associate Artistic Director of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, and a theatre professor who teaches theatre history almost every semester, I can also muster up quite a few arguments myself. And yet...If I am consistent in my focus on individual creativity -- on "bringing the arts back to life" -- then as Byrne says, the emphasis needs to shift from dead guys to the living.

Kingsolver: Bellwether Prize

"Fiction has a unique capacity to bring difficult issues to a broad readership on a personal level, creating empathy in a reader's heart for the theoretical stranger. Its capacity for invoking moral and social responsibility is enormous. Throughout history, every movement toward a more peaceful and humane world has begun with those who imagined the possibilities. The Bellwether Prize seeks to support the imagination of humane possibilities."
-- Barbara Kingsolver (description of the Bellwether Prize she founded)

A New Year's Realization

Tom Loughlin Hits The Nail
Over the past month, throughout the conversation about diversity, about class, about quality, I have avoided a true consideration of the sentiments Tom Loughlin expressed in his December 23rd post "Far From the Madding Crowd" and December 24th post "What's All the Fuss About?"Having been invited into the regional theatre discussion by the intelligent and thoughtful David Dower at Arena Stage, and having been stimulated by a few days of intriguing give-and-take between engaged theatre artists, I found myself trying to fix what is wrong with the so-called American theatre, and in the process I lost track of my own commitments and beliefs, most precisely characterized by the Buckminster Fuller quotation printed in my sidebar that serves as the guiding principle for this blog: "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."

Tom reminded me o…

Quality (Part 2)

This is why I love and hate blogging. I love it because I can post an extreme idea and a host of intelligent and articulate bloggers and commenters will analyze it, point out its strengths and weakness, and help me to polish the idea into something stronger and more insightful. I hate it, because very quickly I realize that I can't keep up with all the great blogs that are out there, and I miss some great insights.

The first comment on the previous post was by August Schulenburg, who back at the end of June posted to the Flux Theatre Ensemble blog his ideas "On Quality, Value, and Criticism." I remember reading it at the time, and experiencing regret that I hadn't been able to come to the NET conference (my father had had a stroke and passed away just before I was to head to San Francisco). His differentiation between "quality" and "value" is extremely useful. He writes:

I think the primary reason we have trouble talking about quality is we so often…

Thesis: Quality Doesn't Exist (Discuss)

Let me just say up front, before you read any further, that I know that the post that is to follow is a non-starter. Readers will throw up their hands in exasperation, postulating as Isaac did that "Scott Walters is Insane!" Chris Wilkinson will likely remove me from his list of top theatre blogs. Thom Garvey will call me academic. I can take comfort, however, from Tony Kushner who, when he proposed in his outstanding speech and essay "A Modest Proposal" (American Theatre, Jan98, Vol. 15 Issue 1) that we "abolish all undergraduate art majors," recognized that "Since[undergraduate arts education] so very lucrative, I can say let's get rid of it and we don't have to worry that anything will actually happen. So my speech is rather like theatre in this regard, and this frees us to consider the validity of my proposal...as a pure abstraction ultimately productive of nothing more unpleasant than a spasm of conscience and perhaps something as pleasa…