Tuesday, January 15, 2008

How Regional Is Regional Theatre?

Scott Walters at Theatre Ideas does some number crunching. Please read his entire post. He is still refining, but he is getting good support with the data for his arguments.

In addition, when theatre artists get in a lather about the narrow-minded people in those big states in the midwest and the west who don't think the federal government ought to support the arts, they should take a look at these maps and these figures and ask themselves: what's in it for them? For instance, why should Jesse Helms, whose state received no NEA funds despite being the 10th most populace state in the nation, feel committed to funding the NEA? None of
those artists do anything down south.

When 36% of the NEA funds go to the northeastern-most states in Zip Codes #1 and #2, and another 20%+ goes to the West Coast in Zip Code #9 -- well, what's a good southern politician to think? Might he think that there might be a little elitism going on? A little snobbery?But, you cry to this provincial hack, the grants are distributed by peer panels of artists who are focused on questions of merit. Right, says the politician, and where are those expert panelists from? Dollars to donuts there is an over-representation of zip codes 1, 2, and 9 -- with maybe a few Chicago and Minneapolis folk thrown in for "balance." Maybe.

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