Monday, March 28, 2011

How We Make Our Case X: In Summary

I said it before, but I think Scott states it succinctly:
Recommendation: The NEA ought to confine itself to providing seed money for theatres in underserved communities.
My hunch is that when you get down to the nuts and bolts of it, Scott and I would disagree on what constitutes "underserved communities" in some cases but not in others, even with that disagreement at times it's still a good framework.

I'm not sure I necessarily agree with Scott that it should limit itself to only seed money. There may be some underserved communities that may require continuing support to remain served. At the very least, such an organization should be able to make a strong case as to why they couldn't be self-sufficient after 5 years, rather than just assuming that grant money is perpetual money.

3 comments:

Ian David Moss said...

If one of your definitions of "underserved" is "poor," then the seed money construct doesn't work. It will always need philanthropic support. And if the population served is both poor and rural, it is unlikely ever to be sustainable without government subsidy.

CultureFuture said...

Right. I don't know what reasonable standards there would be to demonstrate in what cases that is true (how poor is too poor for sustainability; how rural is too rural for sustainability, etc.), and in what cases it is not. I assume more well-read people than I would have answers for that.

Scott Walters said...

Hey, Ian! My post is premised on a finite NEA budget, one that seems to be decreasing, and as a result, one that demands greater focus. I think that is what Landesman was calling for -- permission for him to focus NEA resources.

However, I disagree that, if a community is "poor" or "rural" it means that its theatre can't be sustainable. In fact, my work with CRADLE is an attempt to create a pilot just such a sustainable business model.

However, if you mean a theatre of artist-specialists creating production-commodities that are sold evenings in a big permanent building with pricey tickets -- yeah, that model isn't sustainable in a poor or rural area, or in any other area for that matter. But once we commit to the requirement for sustainability, than we commit to developing a new business model that can meet that requirement.

And I think that is possible.