Monday, June 01, 2009

Where Theatre Has Failed

Thom Garvey and Mike Daisey had a little back and forth over the weekend.

Thom posted about the state of American Theatre and, more specifically, the financial plight of the actor in that ecosystem. The Post is labeled "Part 1", and he promises a follow up.

Here is part of his summary of what we know up to this point:

Most people (at least until recently, due to globalization) benefitted from their increased technological productivity by receiving higher wages. But again, in the case of theatre, little added productivity can be gleaned from new technology, so the cost of theatre to the consumer must rise proportionately with the actors' paychecks. And because the price of theatre was already skyrocketing because of rising rents, this was very problematic - which meant the actor got squeezed.

Thus outside of major tourist destinations (which can rely on an influx of disposable cash from elsewhere), theatre became a charity case, dependent on donations, and wealthy Boards and their largesse. And clearly this undercuts the power of collective action. Because in a word, it's hard to call a strike against people you're begging for cash from.

Mike Daisey has responded on his own blog here.

As a side note, the discussion comes at interesting time as the TCG conference is happening this week in Baltimore.

Take a look at the topics:

Many breakouts will include opportunities to celebrate the successes of innovative new programs, but we will also offer sessions like “Back from the Brink,” our popular session led by theatres who have survived the threat of closure; “Budgeting through a Crisis,” a session on the stories that our budget numbers tell about our priorities, and how we hold firm to our core mission; “Downturn Development,” a session on fundraising when the economy is weak; and many more that will help theatres respond to the times.

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