Friday, March 16, 2012

Counting New Beans Data Dissemination Sessions

I just received in the mail today a copy of Theatre Bay Area's newly released Counting New Beans: Intrinsic Impact and the Value of Art. While I am opening a show Thursday and won't get to reading the book until later, the letter that was included with the book, dated March 5 2012, had a sentence that confirmed once again the centralization of the arts in America. This sentence read as follows:

Please consider attending one of the data dissemination sessions happening across the country in the month of March: Chicago (3/12), Minneapolis (3/13), Boston (3/20), Washington DC (3/22), Philadelphia (3/23), Los Angeles (3/27) and San Francisco (3/30).
1. I received this book in the mail today, March 16 after two of the sessions have already been held.
2. Each of those sessions are scheduled in major metropolitan areas -- no attempt is made to even hint that a small or rural community might be interested in this, despite the prominent participation of Arlene Goldbard, for whom rural arts development is a major issue. I might have suggested Whiteburg KY, home of Appalshop, as a worthy site.
3. Every one of those are northern cities. Apparently these new beans have nothing to do with anyplace below the Mason-Dixon line.

I find it disappointing that I have to assume such a petty tone when these things happen, but until I see that the issue of geographical diversity is being considered by governmental and private arts organizations and foundations I guess I will have to continue to do so.

I appreciate receiving the book. I hope its scope will be wider than its publicity. Arlene? Diane Ragsdale? Any response?


Aaron Andersen said...

Scott, I'm going to go ahead and make the obvious argument that I'm sure you know is coming, because I'd like to hear your solutions.

I am not connected with Theatre Bay Area in any way, but I can imagine that travel funds are limited for them, as well as for those who might wish to join one of the sessions. Rural dispersion of theater is real and valuable, but that also makes drawing an audience at many rural locations quite difficult and expensive. Should they bring the road trip through a rural location if only a very small handful of administrators are able to travel to attend?

Scott Walters said...

Aaron -- They went coast to coast, so there must be SOME money. No effort to go south. The point about audience size is always used in cases like these. Why is it that people from small towns are expected to travel to urban areas, but the opposite drive is incomprehensible?

Unknown said...

Hi Scott, Clay from Theatre Bay Area here. I wanted to let you know that we continue adding stops on the tour, and that, while they still remain somewhat city-based, we are trying in particular to reach south (and north). I will be speaking on the work in Toronto and Kitchner-Waterloo in April, and in St. Louis and Nashville in May. We are also hoping to line up stops in Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Seattle, San Diego and others - all still cities of course, but as Aaron kindly pointed out, we are limited in our money for the dissemination part of this work, and are trying to reach as many people as we can in one fell swoop. To that point, however, both the DC and San Francisco events will be streamed live on the Internet, and at least one of those will be made available afterward for anyone, anywhere to watch. We are grateful for the amazing amount of attention the work is getting, and I personally hope that as many people in as many places, urban and rural, as possible will hear about it. Info on future dates will be posted and publicized as we confirm details at

Think Again: Funding and Budgets in the Arts

Every once in a while, I think I'll post a link or two to posts written earlier in the life of Theatre Ideas that seem worth revisiting ...