Wednesday, May 19, 2010

3LD Eviction pt. 2

Isaac commented on my post about the 3LD eviction, saying:
Just to clarify: I wouldn't call my position "Pro-MTA". I'd call me position "anti-shitty-management-practices". Based on the Times story alone, 3LD made some really bad decisions, and I'm sick of us all rallying around poorly managed theaters to save them because any theatre closing is the Worst Tragedy of All Time.

Now, assuming that what Kevin Cunningham says is true-- and honestly, we need to see the lease document to know that for sure--3LD has a better case than I initially thought. ALthough I STILL think a $20+K lease is a stupid thing to sign on to.
I'm responding to the comment as a post rather than with another comment because I think Isaac touches on the deeper issue here, which is -- to what degree should we bail out small arts groups?

I myself didn't have a particularly strong impulse to rally behind 3LD for the simple fact that, well, I hadn't heard of it at the time. So they're being evicted -- I have no frame of reference to if that's a terrible blow to our arts scene.

So, in the previous post, I talked about receiving the statement from Kevin Cunningham from the League of Independent Theaters. It was part of their May Update, the first story. The second story in the May Update was about the Ohio Theater's closing, and the community forum that NYIT and League of Independent Theaters teamed up to provide.

The closing of the Ohio struck me more personally as a tragedy because I've seen work there; I've had friends work there, and particularly the Ice Factory Festival stands for me as one of the cooler things that goes on in the year (even after having been rejected from it this year...). And I also have some insight into how it came to fail that doesn't have to do with poor practices: supposedly, they have a new landlord who doesn't want to give them the generous treatment that the last landlord did, and they have had trouble putting together the new, higher rent.

That combination of personal connection and not-their-fault-edness makes me predisposed to be on the side of those who would want to save the Ohio.

What determines whether or not the community should bail out an arts organization in trouble? If my theater company were to hit the financial rocks, I have no illusion that I would pretty much just go gently into that good night, nor would I expect anyone to fight for us. But what's the profile of an organization that should be fought for? When should we rage against the dying of the light?
  • Is there such a thing as being culturally too important to fail -- so that even if evidence of poor management came up, the community should protect the organization (perhaps while pushing for a change in leadership), because of the value of the works that get created there?
  • Is there such a thing as being socially too important to fail -- where the community relies on that organization even if there is poor management? Presenting venues, for example, that present work that may not get presented if they went out of business?
  • Is there such a thing as being to historically important to fail -- arts organizations that we bail out to preserve our history?
  • Are any arts organizations too economically important to fail? (I feel like the answer to this is probably MoMA, the Met, BAM, and little else)

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