Out and about

4 Dec

I’ve been out in the argy-bargy theatre world lately. In meetings and seeing shows. A nasty recent epiphany (talking to a financial sponsor/ board member at a recent opening): In the US, there IS no “not for profit” theatre any more. The rhetoric continues, but the reality is that it’s all tap-dancing for the dollar. And with less funding (and the cultural argument for serious arts subsidy pretty much lost–hello, the US can’t even get first world health care) there’s more emphasis on the whims of the wealthy who want to see their money effectively and flatteringly deployed. Outcomes! Outreach! Messages! Is this what art is about or for? Imagine this formula applied to science and what it would do for innovation and discovery, which usually presents itself as heresy or nonsense —at first. So much for R&D in the arts, which basically runs on failure in order to find stuff out.

I think of the art and artists who have ripped a hole in the fabric of my cosmos–Beckett, Kane, Churchill, Parks–and I’m damn sure I’d never have seen their work if it depended on the current arts climate in the US to thrive. Instead I would have seen cute, quirky, topical and earnest little fables from artists who don’t threaten the bottom line, who are “topical” in a slug-line kind of way, and with whose bio the producers can tick the hot, or young, or minority, box on the funding application.

OK, I’m taking a Tylenol and going to bed.

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