Too Much Theater?
Friday, March 25, 2011
Are there too many little theater companies in America? Last month, that question was the shot heard round the theater world from National Endowment for the Arts Chair Rocco Landesman, a former Broadway producer. Landesman shocked the theater community by observing at a play development conference that the problem is one of supply and demand: “Demand is not going to increase, so it is time to think about decreasing supply."
Scott Walters was in the audience. "Of course, there was live blogging and tweeting going on in that room," he told Kurt Andersen, "and suddenly people were talking about 'artistic death panels.'" Walters is the director of the Center for Rural Arts Development and Leadership Education (CRADLE) in Asheville, North Carolina which works to bring theater back to rural America. Unlike many of his peers, Walters welcomed the conversation that Landesman sparked.
In fact, he believes that non-profit theaters may need to change their business model entirely. "All these organizations rely 50% on unearned income—I don't think that's sustainable." Walters isn't against government funding per se, but he thinks there should be more grants for theaters outside the New York-Chicago-LA circuit. "They don't need anymore fertilizer, we need it in South Dakota and Nebraska and other places where there is a lot of demand and not much supply."
Another Op'nin', Another ShowArtist: The MGM Studio OrchestraAlbum: Kiss Me Kate (1953 Film Soundtrack)Label: Rhino / WeaPurchase: Amazon