Thursday, December 18, 2008


I had a great chat with a theatre friend of mine last night and some of that chat is going to wind up here. Here's part of it:

My friend's working on a fairly large show, a classical production. It's quite good and has received some great notices. So, kudos! But they're planning for next year and the leader of the theatre wants to do a bigger show, with a much bigger budget. My friend marvels at this, sicne they barely made the budget for this show, their biggest ever. When this is explained to the leader, the leader says, "Well, we'll raise more money."

But the board argues, "We might not get it, so you'll have to cut your budget."

The leader, "We can't cut the budget! We must raise more money!"

That's it. That's the total of the business plan.

This is part of the problem with our old friend, the standard model. It's turned us into beggars. Pure and simple. And this is bad. In so many ways. We're seeing it right now.

Theatres are now almost solely dependent on the whims and fortunes of rich people. So when rich people are doing well, theatre is doing well. Now that rich people are doing badly, theatres are scared, terrified and shrinking. Because we have no alternate plan. And certainly no alternate method of raising money. Not even putting ads on theatre blogs.

This is part and parcel of the debilitized state of theatre today. I'm not saying that cutting the budget is wrong. It's probably the best solution. But so is finding another way to bring funding in to fulfill the vision.

We're stuck with this Hobbes' Choice: work with what the rich people give you or don't work at all. There's got to be a third way. What's the third way?

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