Monday, January 11, 2010

Diversity XIX: Paying The Rent

Don Hall steps into the diversity whirlpool with a proposal:
Conclusion: if you want more new, diverse theater, shaming people into diversity is going have less impact than providing cost-free space to perform the work currently being done.
Scott Walters is happy, and adds:
Arts funders take note: this could actually work. Diversity supporters take note: this could actually work. I think he's right about diversity in the small theatre scene being more diverse.
Scott does go on to note:
There is one fly in the ointment: the artists themselves. If I heard it once, I heard it a dozen times during my couple days at the Arena: playwrights want to "make the jump" to the regional theatres. They don't seem to be content to stay put -- they've drunk the Kool-Aid and see the theatre world in terms of a pyramid, and they want to "get to the top."
I have to say that, in my personal experience, not all of that is from having "drunk the Kool-Aid" of wanting to "get to the top," so much as the fact as if they want to be part of that slim majority who can survive off of play-writing, it behooves them to get to the top.

I love the people I work with, the people who I employ at my new company. I love them so badly that I want to pay them money, in fact. At the moment, since we are literally three months into our existence as a company, I can't. A year out, hopefully, I'll be able to pay them money. Once we cross into the money-paying threshold, though, I can almost guarantee that the money I'll be paying is a pittance. I'd love to pay my playwrights what the regional theaters can pay them. One day, maybe, I will. I almost certainly will never be able to compensate them in the way that Broadway can compensate them.

Who can blame them? The reason everyone's clamoring toward the top is because we've heard there's money up there.

Don Hall is right that our budgets would be incredibly lighter with rent subsidy. (I feel like someone from either BAM or Lincoln Center or the Met once told me that one of those venerable institutions has their land leased from the city for $1 a year, which they count as one of their biggest donations -- don't quote me on it unless someone can confirm it for me) Right now, I'm in the middle of a show that has a budget of about $11,000, $7,500 of which is rehearsal and theater renting. And without paying anyone. If I could use that $7,500 on the rest of my company, I would 100% positive be paying that to people working for us.

Thank you, Don, for contributing another good idea!

1 comment:

Ian David Moss said...

Actually, I believe that bit about BAM, Carnegie, and the Met (effectively) not paying rent for their spaces is true for all of them, as well as 31 other organizations across New York if I remember correctly. They also get the lion's share of the city funding appropriated to the Department of Cultural Affairs. Nice deal if you can get it.