Thursday, November 18, 2010

Alcohol III: Punchdrunk's Gig pt. 2

Chris Wilkinson at The Guardian raises a glass to me, and collects some of the favorable coverage of Punchdrunk's collaboration. It's worth remembering that this was a follow up to a more skeptical post by Jo Caird that raised questions about Punchdrunk's independence, and whether or not Punchdrunk was diluting their brand with the association.

George Hunka also raises a word of warning:
I’m not sure that it’s a good idea to blithely accept Punchdrunk’s formal or informal relationship with Stella Artois as an example of new funding sources. Stella Artois is a corporation, and a too-easy acceptance of an artistic endeavor’s partnership with a corporation is a dangerous thing, though of course many theatres in both the UK and the US already maintain these partnerships (Travelex’s relationship with the NT and Roundabout’s relationship with American Airlines are just two examples).

One needs to be careful whom one beds down with. The ethics of corporations specifically seem to be at loggerheads with the ethics of those who create theatre, and though it’s nice to have the money one must look at the source.
Absolutely on key. I'm not 100% comfortable with the nature of that relationship with an Alcohol company. But really, I have a deeper concern than just doing a commissioned show -- I really have actual concerns about our relationship with alcohol itself.

Hunka says that corporate ethics are not in line with artistic ethics, and he quotes from Chris Hedges' Culture of Illusion:
We have a right, in the cult of the self, to get whatever we desire. We can do anything, even belittle and destroy those around us, including our friends, to make money, to be happy and to become famous.
For Hunka, that's the corporate ethic (I happen to think it's a corporate ethic, but I've seen corporations with other ethics). But for me, I worry that's become a social ethic. The ethic around alcohol.

When I say that often the only way I can get people to attend certain events is with the promise of alcohol, I actually am genuinely concerned that people are really only responding with the idea of indulging that urge, and theater is only an excuse. Could art survive without alcohol? Or are we just part of that experience?

I'm aware that this concern of mine is why I've been called a Puritan by many, many people. (I have also been called a fascist, despite the fact that I'm okay with trains being slightly late). But people are far more interested in interrogating art's relationship to money then they are interested in interrogating art's relationship to drinks.