From the publisher...
A Tightrope, Shaken from Both
In attempting to cast a staged reading last week, I was surprised to
learn that three of the actors on my list had moved
to Austin, Texas. Why Austin, I asked? Their reply was that opportunities
for actors abound in Austin, and that the arts industry there is good
to them. The unspoken message is that it wasn't good to them here.
This rather shook my foundation, as Louisville's thriving arts community
is one of the reasons I moved here. Massachusetts,
the area I left behind, has simply turned its back
on independent theatre. An editorial in the February
issue of Stage
on funding cuts, and states that "the Boston Foundation released
a report last December that recommended that smaller
and struggling arts organizations should look into
how to cease operations."1 Of
course, this is a simplistic view of a 79-page report.2 Yet how much did it cost to produce that 79-page
report, and how many independent theatre groups could
have benefited from that amount of money? Clearly,
the Boston arts community needs to re-examine its
Sadly, so does Louisville's. Every year,
huge grants go to organizations that already have
the largest operating budgets as well as the longest
list of donors. Again this year, Louisville's
independent theatre groups got nothing from Fund
for the Arts. The results are evident. During the
past year alone, at least one independent production
was cancelled for lack of funds, and several theatres
axed weeknight performances. Meanwhile, Theatre
Alliance and others talk much but accomplish little
about getting a fair share, and the cycle self-perpetuates.
The Kentucky grants application process is cumbersome and rife with
restrictions, and small independent theatres are
told flat-out that their efforts are better spent
elsewhere. But where would that be? They can, of
course, try to solicit more donors. Yet those critical
corporate contributions are locked up by the few, and inaccessible to
the many. They can try to sell more seats. But how, without the funds
for essential marketing and promotion? People won't
buy tickets to a show if they don't know it exists.
Compounding the problem, the Courier-Journal recently
upped its advertising rates and minimum ad size,
in a process many have described as a bait-and-switch.
Louisville's independent theatres are in an untenable
situation, walking a tightrope that's being
shaken at both ends.
Wake up, Mayor Abramson and Governor Beshear. Your independent theatres
are a glorious and unparalleled resource. Please show them you understand.
Jacob. "Tastemakers, Fundraisers and Boards of Directors."
Directions magazine, Feb. 2008.
Boston Foundation, "Vital Signs: Metro Boston's
Arts and Cultural Nonprofits, 1999 and 2004." Dec. 2007.
Copyright © 2008 A.S. Waterman. All rights reserved.