However, I have put together this voter guide based on who the League of Independent Theater has endorsed in this election. Print it out, take it with you, and make your voice heard.
Monday, September 9, 2013
However, I have put together this voter guide based on who the League of Independent Theater has endorsed in this election. Print it out, take it with you, and make your voice heard.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Theater is labor, resource, and real estate intensive.
Theater must therefore be expensive to recoup its costs.
Or theater must rely on the patronage of an elite who can support it.
Theater cannot be mass produced, so it must appeal to specific, local audiences.
Theater is inflexible in format -- you must show up at the appointed time, and view it for the appointed length of time.
Mass produced media is less expensive to create, less expensive to consume, easier to distribute, and easier to consume.
I notice that most of the blogs answering this elitism question seem to be caught up in the content of the plays. Probably because they're written by writers, who are concerned with the writing.
I'm a producer, so I'm interested in how plays are produced, so the answer to that question seems pretty obvious to me.
Friday, June 14, 2013
It's an election year.
It's an important election. (Mayor, a majority of city council seats, and many other positions are open and competitive -- meaning the city politics could pretty drastically change).
It's really hard to get good information.
That's why you should know about:
- What it is: A very easy to navigate web guide to find out who is running for what positions, and recent news about them. (They also operate a useful Twitter feed).
- Why you should know about it: Because this election is big and complicated but it's also going to determine who is going to piss you off with bike lanes and massive development projects and etc. (By the way, if you want to know who on that list is pro-arts, keep an eye out for the League of Independent Theater endorsements).
- Why you should know about it now:
- The election is coming up swiftly and really, the primaries will settle most of everything by September 10th so now is the perfect time to get involved.
- If you do check out DecideNYC and are as happy with their quality local coverage as I am, contribute to their project like I did today. Quality local coverage is hard to sustain, as New York sees all too clearly, so support it where you can!
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Suppose you and one of your friends get together and decide to write a staged biography about a striking actress you knew (Elzbieta Czyzewska). Would you really decide that the best way to present her life would be to have two men talk about her, occasionally imitating her, rarely quoting her, and instead rattling off a series of facts about her life in chronological order? (For 40 minutes?).
The theme of the biography is (so near as I can tell), that Elzbieta was given short shrift by directors and producers who constantly promised her big come-back roles, but never delivered. (Included in that number is a young playwright named John Guare, who seems fairly sad that he was forced to cut her from a play he wrote specifically for her).
And here she is, one more time, being presented to an audience without truly bringing her voice in the space. A few moments of imitation, but otherwise, she is quite literally an object, a portrait invoked at the beginning and end of a long story.
That's the content of the second of the three acts. (The first is a monologue by a man about himself, so there's not really much room for a woman there, apparently).
What about the third act? There are female actresses in there. They get two moments:
I want to end my review by honoring the people who worked on this. Genuinely. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth to trash a production, knowing the time and dedication that came from a talented group of performers and designers. I'm just baffled how this incredible wealth of resources came to be marshaled for this production.
Monday, June 3, 2013
We need your help.
If you want to reward these politicians for coming to the cultural tables, come out on Wednesday (June 5th) at 11:30 (FB event here). We want to show the cameras how big a force the independent performing arts and culture community is.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
In the meantime, while I recharge my theoretical batteries, I'm turning over this blog to a new regular feature called shit you should know. Largely because now that I'm working with the League of Independent Theater and getting into the community, I'm realizing that people don't know a lot of things that, well, they should know. Groups that are out there, resources that are out there, etc.
Hemispheric Institute Digital Video Library (HIDVL)
- What is it: The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics is a research and performance institution founded by Diana Taylor as a focal point for artist-activists throughout the Americas (the Hemisphere in the name). The Digital Video Library is an initiative (one of many great initiatives they run) which archives lectures, presentations, interviews, and performance in digital mediums.
- Why you should know about it: You should know about it from a couple perspectives:
- Inspiration -- Seriously, you can see years of work from artists like Richard Schechner, FOMMA (Fortaleza de la Mujer Maya), or Circus Amok. Work that spans the entire gamut of performance from across many different cultures across the Hemisphere.
- Education -- If you didn't recognize the names above, or want to learn more about other movements of resistance or activism, this is a great way to just explore. (While typing this post I stumbled across Hula as Resistance and you can bet my curiosity was piqued!)
- Preservation -- If you know of artists whose work should be preserved, contact them (or contact me, I'd be happy to pass it along), their work can be preserved in perpetuity, in updated formats, without conceding ownership over the work. Seriously, an artist's dream.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
- John Liu
- Question 1: Felony charges for his campaign staff. Response: basically, that he's been investigated for four years (wiretapped for eighteen months), and no other candidate has gone through this scrutiny. If anyone else had gone through this, they would have "errors of omission" as well.
- Question 2: Barclay Center. It's a great facility, but "the promise was no where near met." His policy is that hew wants to end all subsidy for job creation or for affordable housing.
- Question 3: Is there anything he'd credit to Bloomberg? The smoking ban. But the soda tax goes too far. Too much top-down leadership: schools opened and closed "as a business decision" and education system is over testing.
- Question 4: Prospect Park Bike Lane: Liu says it's not popular. "Popular isn't about what the polls say… it should have had more process" than just being approved by the Community board
- Bill Thompson
- Question 1: Prospect Park Bike Lane: Needed an approval process "broader than the community board."
- Question 2: Would you impose bike lanes? "Leadership isn't forcing things on people, it's about consulting them." Education as well: need an education system that listens to parents.
- Question 3: Barclays Center. "I supported the proposal… but it was supposed to be something more. There were supposed to be jobs, there was supposed to be affordable housing." Said that there should be penalties against 'anyone' who goes back on promises; fell short of saying he'd penalize Rattner. Also said that large-scale developments should have multiple developers.
- Question 4: Is the EPA Cleanup of Gowanus Canal better or worse for the community? Cleaning Gowanus is more important than developing the neighborhood.
- Question 5: School Selection process. Supports mayoral control of the school systems, but the mayor has abused the privilege. Processes aren't transparent, need to return to community value for schools. Testing has robbed schools of so much, school closings are not policies.
- Question 6: Is it right that District 2 can exclude students? I didn't catch his answer
- Question 7: Library Closings? Against.
- Question 8: Inclusionary Zoning for Affordable Housing? Yes, and it should be mandatory
- Question 9: Other set-asides? Yes, a "smart growth" model. And NYCHA should not be allowed to dump city land for luxury housing; needs to be used for affordable housing/middle income housing.
- Question 10: Brooklyn's greatest transportation need? Fix the subways, add more buses. Bring back the commuter tax, and weight based registration fees. Would bring $1.7 billion into MTA
- Question 11: Bus lanes? Yes, he would impose them top-down, but only on large streets like Flatbush and Nostrand
- George McDonald
- Question 1: Are you happy with how Barclay has turned out?
- "Yes, once the affordable housing is built."
- "That hasn't happened yet"
- "It will within the first six months of the next mayor's term."
- "What if they aren't built in the next six months?"
- "They'd have to."
- "… But what if they aren't?"
- "In a civilized society, we go to court."
- "If you had the chance to build it again?"
- "I would, for all the affordable housing that will be built there…once it's built."
- Also supports micro-housing, and 421G to allow commercial buildings to switch to housing. "We need housing across the city."
- And we need jobs. He'll make jobs. He did that at the Doe fund. (Audience members shouted 'how?!' and he didn't answer).
- Need to train people who come out of prison
- NYC public employees need to pay into their pension funds, like every other public employee (audience members shouted that he was lying). Wouldn't resign their contract if they didn't.
- Question 2: Prospect Park Bike Lane — would you have supported it if you were mayor?
- "But I'm not."
- "… But if you were."
- "But I'm not."
- "… But you want to be, right?"
- "Well yes, but I wasn't."
- Question 3: Transportation needs for Brooklyn: Mayoral control over MTA and Port Authority.
- "Is it going to happen?"
- "I don't know, but I'm going to fight like hell for it."
- Also wandered a bit about how politicians need to stop making promises before they look at the budget.
- Question 4: Expand subways or expand buses? Likes buses because they're built in New York, think some new subway lines (e.g. The 7 train) are a good idea.
- Question 5: About his failed lawsuit against the campaign finance board. Wants to use the State fundraising limits, rather than the city, if you don't participate in the matching fund.
- Moderator: "So you think the state is less corrupt than the city?"
- "The state is like a slow moving crime wave.
- "So why would you follow them?"
- He cut off the conversation at this point with a humorous anecdote where a mobster says he's "too honest" and then later a business person says he's "too honest."
- Sal Albanese
- Question 1: Barclays? Not accepting developer money. Clamp down, force penalties and clawbacks on bad developers
- Question 2: Park development? Never give up an inch of parkland. "My summer vacation was JJ Byrne Park." Parks are important to communities
- Question 3: Priorities for transit? Fair tolls (Based on access to mass transit), Select Bus Service up to 20 routes, more bike lanes, mayoral control over MTA. Objects to an MTA run by "political appointees who don't even have metro cards." Would raise $1 billion; $750 million to transit, $250 to lowering fairs. "Bloomberg hasn't paid any attention… no comment on the 10% fare hike"
- Question 4: Prospect Park Bike Lane: Yes, it seems like there was enough community input. Also wants a bike lane over the Verranzano Bridge.
- Question 5: Mayoral Control of Schools: In favor if it: "I want control to repair what was broken."
- Question 6: Is it good that property values have doubled in Park Slope? Yes, but we need more affordable housing. (He paid $50/mo in rent when he was growing up in Slope)
- John Catsimatidis
- Question 1: Transit? Wants "transit-oriented development. It solves "the problem of congestion pricing"
- Moderator: "Is congestion pricing a 'problem'?"
- Don't penalize people who want to drive "God Bless them if they want to drive" -- "I'm from Harlem and I had a dream" to drive a GTO car. "Don't tell Americans that they should not dream — we should build more efficient cars, not restrict Americans from their dreams." "I teach children in Harlem and I teach them that it's good to succeed — don't hate success, don't promote failure."
- Question 2: Does social good outweigh need? His answer drew the example of the sanitation plant Quinn wants to build on the UES. "When you touch something that has germs, you get germs. When you smell something, you know what that literally is? It's something touching your lungs. And you want to know what Christine Quinn called it? Social Justice."
- Question 3: You don't believe in global warming? "I tell the truth."
- Question 4: Protection against future storms? "You can't build wooden shacks on the beach and expect to survive a storm." Quoted a Greek Saying, "Never build palaces near the sand." "Don't put your equipment in the basement." "Build more solid buildings."
- Question 5: Education? High school graduates should donate more money to their schools. Also: the education system is built to give every kid an academic education: stop teaching calculus to kids, it makes them feel ashamed when they fail and the give up and drop out. Vocational schools instead.
- Christine Quinn
- Question 1: 4th Avenue Rezoning, success or not? "In some ways" -- it made affordable housing a part of the conversation, even though they failed to get the affordable housing on 4th ave.
- Question 2: Expand inclusionary zoning? "It's a question of how far can we go?" but she wants to be "as aggressive as possible." She's not sure mandatory inclusionary zoning is legal "but wants to consider it." Favors permanent affordable housing over increasing the ratio. Willing to consider a property tax cap, but the state bill that REBNY proposed was far too generous to developers. Against the sale of NYCHA land for luxury condos.
- Question 3: Barclays? Should have not been a state project, which bypassed ULURP. Took credit for killing the West Side Stadium by driving it into ULURP even though it wasn't required. Thinks every large development on public land should go through ULURP. On Barclays itself, too soon to judge if it's successful.
- Question 4: Pilot programs to drive up parking costs? Not necessarily. Cars happen when mass transit options don't exist. Heavily favors expanding the ferry system to all five boroughs. East River Ferry was the first public transit up after Sandy. Also, breaks away from the "spoke and wheel" model of the MTA subway system. Also, more select bus services — 10 routes would be a good start. Favors dedicated bus lanes in some areas
- Question 5: Road space is hotly contested? Focus on making streets safe for young and old.
- Question 6: Industrial zoning? Expand industrial and manufacturing — she grew jobs in Brooklyn Navy Hards during the recession, and kept the money recirculating internally through tax breaks. Subdivided factories to allow more jobs to grow, and wants to bring manufacturing back to manufacturing zones that are lying dormant. (Would she support the same for "cultural zones"?)
- Question 7: Department of Education: Too much testing, and definitely need to stop "field testing" where students are pulled out of class to be test subjects for Pearson and other education. Need to move toward portfolio assessment. We're the only city with only one standardized test — has an impact on racial/gender diversity
- Question 8: School selection: process is stressful, confused, and unclear.
- Question 9 Are you too mean, and too close to business?
- "I'm tough. I'm push. And I'm too loud."
- Audience member: "That’s for damn sure."
- "Thank you, sir."
- Characterizes herself as uncompromising, willing to fight for the New Yorkers that work so hard in the city. "I want this city t one the tech capital. I want it t one the literacy capital, to have the schools with the best scores. I want this school to have the most CUNY graduates working in tech."
- Very proud of her record in City Council — most pro-tenant laws of any city council. You can now sue harassing landlords. New York's carbon footprint will be reduced by the carbon footprint of Oakland. (not sure what that means but that sounds great in an ad)
- Question 10: Sandy? We need infrastructure, hardening the city. Man-made barriers, blue belt and oyster beds. Schumer is bringing the Army Corps of Engineer to study, Cuomo is buying up land on river-front to bring in blue belt. No more overhead power lines, need gas redundancy. Punish bad players in the oil industry (Mobile, Exxon) who didn't help in recovery, and reward the good players (Hess gave free gas). Building resiliency committee.
- Question 11: What do you want people to say when you leave office? "I want people to say that I emptied my tank for NYC."
- Bill de Blasio
- Question 1: Barclays? Good for Brooklyn, but not worth it until the affordable housing arrives.
- Question 2: Was oversight in place? The Community Benefit Agreement was the strongest in the city, but should have been supported by the government. City should lock out all development from developers who did not honor the promises. Not enough infrastructure planning (water, sewage) to support. Most concerned about affordable housing and income disparity.
- Question 3: 4th Avenue Rezoning? Not enough affordable housing, and not enough give-back to schools. Los an opportunity to down-zone, and to put in an inclusionary zone. Wants mandatory inclusionary zoning. Formula can start with 80/20, maybe should be 70/30, but maybe there are other community needs e.g. Schools that we need to demand too. "Affordable housing is the one given" but other needs include schools, open spaces, etc.
- Question 4: Did Bloomberg do enough for affordable housing. Added 165,000 over 12 years, but lost almost as much. Too much of it is at the high end of low income, smaller apartments than normal. Wants 200,000/10 years, including preserving the stock. Wants to leverage the $1 billion pension fund investments to fund this. Concerned about vacant plots — wants to make it easier to bring land on the market.
- Question 5: School selection process? Needs to be simplified. Also wants a tax on people making over $1 million to pay for universal pre-K.
- Question 6: Can District 2 prioritize local students? Maybe, but the issue is that other schools aren't meeting District 2. Needs to make sure that the best schools don't misrepresent the city.
- Question 7: Double in housing prices in Park Slope? Need more affordable housing, "Local version of Keynesianism." Wants to stop the abuse of small businesses.
- Question 8: Transit needs? The deepest needs are furthest out, like Canarsie. MTA should be accountable to the mayor. Payroll tax needs to be defended.
- Question 9: Prospect Park West Bike Lane? In the end it worked, was better than the sidewalk. "Needed a deeper kind of control than the community board." Community boards are a part of the puzzle, but not everything.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Since my last update, I've been made Brooklyn Borough Chief for the League of Independent Theater, so I'll be the contact person for artists and venues in Brooklyn, as well as the candidates running in those elections.
Anyways, without further ado, here is the full video from the League of Independent Theater event: I'll write up some thoughts in a later post.
Here's the introductory remarks, including remarks by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer:
Here is a mayoral candidate, the Manhattan Borough President hopefuls, and a Queens Borough President hopeful:
Candidates for Districts 1, 3, 5:
Candidates for Districts 6, 7, 8:
Candidates for 18, 35, 37, and the Public Advocate hopefuls:
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
I'm going to bring this blog up to speed on the work the League is doing to actually make that case in New York, and the successes we're having, etc. but chew on those reasons for the moment.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
I have always been a big proponent of following your heart and doing exactly what you want to do. It sounds so simple, right? But there are people who spend years—decades, even—trying to find a true sense of purpose for themselves. My advice? Just find the thing you enjoy doing more than anything else, your one true passion, and do it for the rest of your life on nights and weekends when you’re exhausted and cranky and just want to go to bed.
It could be anything—music, writing, drawing, acting, teaching—it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that once you know what you want to do, you dive in a full 10 percent and spend the other 90 torturing yourself because you know damn well that it’s far too late to make a drastic career change, and that you’re stuck on this mind-numbing path for the rest of your life.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
I've mentioned before the League of Independent Theater Meet the Candidates 2013 event which brought together 20-odd candidates to debate areas of arts policy as pertains to a specific arts platform, and their campaigns for 2013.
Above is a chart gathered by our diligent and faithful box office team, showing which districts the attendees came from.
Three quick observations:
- Manhattan 3 -- this is Speaker Christine Quinn's district, which she is vacating, providing for an open race. It includes both Times Square and Greenwich village, so it's no surprise that the performing arts would be well represented. And we had two interesting activist candidates running for the seat in attendance -- Corey Johnson and Yetta Kurland
- Manhattan 6 -- also an open seat, as Councilwoman Gale Brewer is running for Manhattan Borough President (her opponents Robert Jackson and Julie Menin were in attendance). Covers the Upper West Side. Two candidates were in attendance: Marc Landis and Mel Wymore.
- Queens 26 -- Now, this surprised me. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (Chair of the Cultural Affairs committee) gave a rousing set of opening remarks, but he's an incumbent and didn't have any opponents on hand. Is it because he's a passionate supporter of the arts? Is it because Long Island City is a new performing arts haven, with quick access to the City? Was it the presence of Peter Vallone, Jr. who is running for Queens Borough President?
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Saturday, March 9, 2013
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Here are the politicians who are going to be there:
Keynote Address by
That's right, from across the city, these candidates are going to be telling us why the League of Independent Theater should endorse them.
And if you attend, you can vote and tell us who should get the endorsement.
They're going to be discussing this platform:
It's all there -- clear, immediate ways that these politicians can make an impact for our local artistic community. And you can't influence unless you come.
Please RSVP now -- we've had to turn away candidates and we will be packed from floor to ceiling. The initial response has been overwhelming, and if we follow through on this, we can actually have a big political impact this election.
Monday, February 11, 2013
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Time Warner Cable subscribers in Southern California will eventually see their monthly bills increase thanks to an impending $7 billion deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, believed to be the most lucrative for any sports team in history. DirecTV, the country’s most popular satellite service, and Verizon FiOS have started adding a $2 to $3 monthly surcharge in markets like New York and Los Angeles to pay for regional sports networks.
For at least a year, Netflix has been explicit about its plans to exploit its Big Data capabilities to influence its programming choices. “House of Cards” is one of the first major test cases of this Big Data-driven creative strategy. For almost a year, Netflix executives have told us that their detailed knowledge of Netflix subscriber viewing preferences clinched their decision to license a remake of the popular and critically well regarded 1990 BBC miniseries. Netflix’s data indicated that the same subscribers who loved the original BBC production also gobbled down movies starring Kevin Spacey or directed by David Fincher. Therefore, concluded Netflix executives, a remake of the BBC drama with Spacey and Fincher attached was a no-brainer, to the point that the company committed $100 million for two 13-episode seasons.
“We know what people watch on Netflix and we’re able with a high degree of confidence to understand how big a likely audience is for a given show based on people’s viewing habits,” Netflix communications director Jonathan Friedland told Wired in November. “We want to continue to have something for everybody. But as time goes on, we get better at selecting what that something for everybody is that gets high engagement.”
Friday, February 8, 2013
If you have ever expressed frustration that public officials don't care about the arts, read this whole post.
If you want to know how to have a political voice in the 2013 city-wide elections, read this whole post.
The League of Independent Theater, of which I am a member, has just launched the publicity for a Meet the Candidates event, March 12, 7PM. From the press release:
Members of LIT will get to vote on the candidates they think will best serve the indie theater territory. LIT's Political Research and Outreach Committee has created the Performing Arts Platform below. Candidates from every city race are being invited to participate. 2013 is an important year in terms of New York City elections. We hope you will be able to attend this event. Your attendance and passion can have an impact.Here's the platform:
As a pro-performing arts elected official, I will work to:
1. Create access to low-cost and/or no-cost Community Facilities Spaces that are currently available and remain unused throughout the City through the creation of a Community Facilities Space Database.Here are the candidates who have confirmed so far:
2. Create access to empty and unused City property to be re-purposed as temporary rehearsal, office and (if appropriate), performance space.
3. Include non-profit performance venues in the favorable electricity and utility rates enjoyed by religious institutions and the VFW.
4. Implement a proposal that would reduce or eliminate property tax assessments for those non-profit organizations that have an artistic mission and/or rent performance space to similar non-profit performing arts groups with artistic missions of their own. This proposal was unanimously ratified by all twelve (12) Manhattan Community Boards.
5. Secure affordable permanent low-cost housing for working artists. In addition, work to provide access to affordable healthcare for these artists, depending on the status and reach of the Affordable Care Act at the time of negotiations.
6. Support the commission of an economic impact study for the independent theater territory.
7. Work with the Department of Cultural Affairs to expand the Cultural Institutions Group to include the independent theater sector’s anchor venues.
8. Install plaques at sites of historical import and rename streets after the founders of the independent and Off-Off Broadway community.
Tom Allon (Candidate for Mayor)If you want to go, which you should, you can RSVP here.
Julie Menin (Manhattan Borough President)
Letitia James (Public Advocate)
Corey Johnson (CC Manhattan 3)
Yetta Kurland (CC Manhattan 3)
Mel Wymore (CC Manhattan 6)
Cheryl Pahaham (CC Manhattan 7)
Angel Molina (CC Bronx 8)
Matthew Silverstein (CC Queens 19)
Kimberly Council (CC Brooklyn 37)
Saturday, February 2, 2013
If you're wondering what the spaces are, Off-Off Blogway has rounded up the losses. It ranges from theaters I've never heard of, to notable spaces like the Ohio and Horse Trade's Red Room.
In creative placemaking, an entirely different trope is substituted: you begin with a shared interest – often a problem formulation – and you talk about what the arts can do to help achieve it. A common example is a community that begins with a vacant downtown or an abandoned warehouse district along its waterfront. The arts talk about the foot traffic that they can bring to an area, especially if you cluster arts organizations, since each has a different pattern of foot traffic. A theater has 1,000 people show up at eight o’clock and leave at eleven o’clock. A museum might have 1,000 people spread out over the course of an eight-hour day. A rehearsal studio might have 30 people coming and going every hour over twelve hours. You put the three different organizations in proximity to one another, and all of a sudden, you have a full day of positive foot traffic on a street – feet that belong to people who need to eat meals, buy newspapers, go shopping, and take public transportation. You have every mayor’s dream.
And when you talk about the arts in those terms, resources start being invested in the arts. Not one of those organizations is being taken off mission, but they are highlighting their benefits to the collective good. People invest in them because they are part of a winning team (the abundance), rather than because they are needy (the scarcity).
This is the framing that Rocco used as he went around to the other federal agencies. He didn’t go to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and say, “give me some of your budget for the arts.” Rocco, instead, talked with Secretary Donovan about their shared vision of helping to build complete, vibrant, sustainable communities that were welcoming and inclusive to Americans of all backgrounds and income levels.I like this framing because it ties into the economics arguments that are effective, without being a dry debate about facts and figures. It's about the real impact that the arts can have in their community.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Congress recognized the basic biological fact that only a man and a woman can beget a child together without advance planning, which means that opposite-sex couples have a unique tendency to produce unplanned and unintended offspring.
Sunday, January 27, 2013
Because of the bitter cold (especially after the sun disappeared), the event moved rather quickly, and a series of incredibly passionate stump speakers touted Robert Jackson ("Action Jackson")'s credential as a vigorous defender of education. They touted his work for the lawsuit of Campaign for Fiscal Equality v. State of New York and his 2003 stunt of walking 150 miles to Albany to promote education.
And he does pretty well with kids:
Saturday, January 26, 2013
I believe you can make a living as a theater artist but in order to do so, without making work you don’t like, you might need to think about falling in love with verbs more than nouns. I believe money is never really the reason but often the excuse. So when you say you can’t do my play because it will cost too much, I know what you really mean is, “I’d rather spend the money that I have on something else”. I believe that’s fair.
I believe if you set a financial goal, you will reach it and if that financial goal is small, your budget will be small, artists will barely get paid, and everyone will be a little grumpy.
I believe if NYC had no art and only Wall Street, nobody would want to live here. And so I believe 10% of all Wall Street salaries should go to artists.
There is a difference between what is nice and what is deserved. I don’t think that art deserves money. Again, I take it when it is offered to me, I’ll ask for a cut if it is being made by others, and if I’m working for someone else I’ll insist on it. But to make my own work is a private necessity and spiritual gift, and not something I feel entitled to payment for.
I think artists should be complaining a lot more about the lack of a social safety net for everyone in America – the lack of a dignified old age for those who aren’t rich, the lack of health care, the lack of great and accessible education for everyone. Because if I imagine myself living in an America where I don’t have to worry about those things so much, i imagine myself being an artist who takes bigger risks and makes better work. And I imagine myself finding solidarity with other working people, rather than feeling exceptional from them. So complaint, in and of itself, isn’t a problem for me. It’s complaining as if our own concerns and necessities were somehow separate from those of other people who need to make a living.