From the publisher...

A.S. Waterman

March 2009

Weathering the Storm — More or Less

I just returned from a major U.S. city where there was very little live theatre. Here in Louisville, there are more than 50 theatre groups, but it's a mixed blessing. Money is tight, both for theatres and theatre-goers. Fund for the Arts promotions are everywhere, but the sad truth is that the vast majority of these 50 theatres will get nothing from the Fund. Just as it's easier to get a job when you have one, in order to get significant funding you need to have it already. Meanwhile, those who can afford to shell out large contributions will donate, thinking they are helping the larger arts community. That's just not the case.

Is More Better, or Is It Just More?
I can hear the angry emails pouring in now, but maybe it's time to consider whether we have too many theatre groups. With this multitude, we compete for actors and performance space. We compete for ticket sales and for scheduling. We can't see our friends perform because of our own production cycle. We certainly compete for funding. And after all that, many of us still wind up performing to nearly empty rooms.

Perhaps more is just more, and we need to re-think. Is it really necessary to stamp our own name onto a production, or is that just vanity? If there's a play we're eager to perform, couldn't we approach an existing theatre group about it before producing it on our own? And if we are that theatre group, isn't it time we opened up our meeting rooms and listened to the outside? After all, that's where our audience members come from — in this case, many potential new ones.

Banks, corporations and even cities merge. Shouldn't theatre groups consider it, at least on a per-production if not a permanent basis? Before you hit that "send," please just think about it. If even a few of you say yes, then you have helped us all.

How We All Can Help
Whether you agree with the above or not, there are ways we can all help each other through this theatrical economic crisis. If there is a particular independent theatre that you like, send them a contribution directly. If you haven't got the bucks, then donate a few hours to them as a volunteer.

Talk to everyone you know. Educate people about grants funding, who really gets it and how it is used. Encourage your acquaintances to support independent, local theatre. Above all, collaborate, cooperate, and support your friends and colleagues. If you're sitting out a production with your usual theatre group, call up another one and offer your assistance as a stagehand, publicist or understudy. Everyone will benefit, including you. When they cast that next production, they'll remember.

Okay, Now Break a Leg
The truth remains: Theatre people are the best. If we keep our spirits up, our hands ready and our vanity in check, we'll weather all the storms. Seats will fill up, and no one will be left waiting in the wings.

— A.S. Waterman

Copyright © 2009 A.S. Waterman. All rights reserved.





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