In more playful moments I think about the fictional PM Jim Hacker's approach to the bricks-and-mortar vs. money-for-performers issue. In an episode of Yes Prime Minister called "The Patron of the Arts," Hacker suggested the sale of the UK National Theatre building, the money therefrom to be put into a fund that would benefit all theatre artists across the United Kingdom.
If "The Hacker Plan," as we can call it, were to be instituted in the United States, several acres of very expensive New York real estate would be freed up. The Public Theater (where Mike regularly performs), the Lincoln Center Theatre complex (where one of Mike's immediate predecessors in the field of solo performance, Spalding Gray, regularly performed) – these buildings and the real estate upon which they sit, much of which is actually owned by the city itself, could fetch hundreds of millions of dollars.
On the other hand: Administration of this fund would still be required, whether those administrators are artists, managers, or some combination thereof. The questions of who would get this money, or how much, would still be determined by considerations of theatre and theatre artists "worthy" of this fund's support.
... Once again, the question would devolve into the political and aesthetic question of what consititutes "worthwhile," "relevant" theatre, and these would remain the central issues even if Hacker's modest proposal were put fully in effect.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
George Hunka on the Buildings Versus Artists Argument
George posts the following comment he left on the Guardian blog: