Monday, January 21, 2008

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

Bill Marx on the Boston Foundation Report:

But isn’t there something fishy about the Boston Foundation’s concern for the life or death of the city’s small artistic groups? Such troupes always flicker in and out of existence. It is not as if they ever received much grant money; frustrated tales of the impossibility of picking the correct socially responsible words for the BF applications are legion in the theater community. The bigger theaters have the staffs, focus group results, and political connections necessary to rake in whatever cash BF makes available to theaters. Small stages have always existed on the margins — presenting superb and sub-par work — without much support from the region’s fat cats or mainstream media.

As the Boston Foundation report admits, theaters large and small are finding it difficult to hang onto their audience and supporters in today’s competitive entertainment world. To be consistent, the BF should demand that theaters of all sizes innovate (translation — improve their marketing techniques), merge (the corporate word de jure), or sharpen the ceremonial sword. In truth, the Boston Foundation is not wringing its hands about the future of small theaters — it fears what the economic slow down and/or recession
will mean to the larger theaters that haven’t generated loyalty and/or excitement among the growing number of people who would rather sit home in front of their comfy home entertainment system than pay for increasingly expensive theater seats.

The irony is that BF and the governmental powers-that-be are handing out their biggest bucks to artistic institutions that specialize in cranking out bad or uninspired stage productions. For those who are discouraged by all the safe and conservative fare on our stages, you haven’t seen anything yet.

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