Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Vision Index

I was out with my buddy Lonnie tonight. Lonnie is kind of like my Obi-Wan Kenobi, wise, kind (well, unless he's doling out the bourbon), and looks snappy in a robe (okay, I'm just assuming that part. His girlfriend can confirm.). We see shows together, talk shop, kick around ideas. He's worked at a bunch of theatres, as a G.M. or Managing Director, lived all over the country. He's good people and a good person to bounce ideas off of. Tonight was no difference.

We started off talking about the 2011 RSC residence that everyone is talking about and that led into a general discussion of big ideas, big vision. I know we're super-sick of talking about Joe Papp, but he was undeniably a man of vision. The New York Shakespeare Festival was a Big Idea. Where are the new Big Ideas now?

One of the things Lonnie mentioned that I'd never thought of before is that we measure our theatres by their physical size, by the number of seats. That's how we draw our distinctions. Grant applications ask for budgets, production lists, but how do we think about vision? There's a gross national happiness index...what goes into a theatre's vision index?


rebecca longworth said...

I've been thinking about this a lot lately too. I think there are a lot of big ideas, and a lot of folks with 'em... the problem seems to be matching up the big ideas with the big money. Maybe there are *too many* big ideas, and not enough people with the cash to make them happen who know how to tell the good ideas from the crap... or who would rather fund one big (risky) idea than 20 okay (safe) ones. I wonder if we're really looking for an amazing grantmaker or someone who can galvanize funders around the idea?

99 said...

I'm definitely in agreement on that. The ideas about funding do have to change and that will make the theatres change, I firmly believe that.

That was honestly part of the impetus for this post: how would a funder decide what projects to fund on the basis of vision? What constitutes big vision?

I know a lot of artists with big visions and a few companies willing to indulge in big vision projects. How do we move support towards those things? And it's not just about expensive, but more about expansive ideas.