Thursday, September 10, 2009

Should a Snowflake Respectfully Decline?

I haven't posted to Pheidio in almost four months. Nobody wants to hear an unqualified kid ramble on about theatre, it seems. There are enough blogs about theatre written by qualified, or at least persuasive, or at least charismatic, or at least clever, or at least old people.

No, it seems the only thing a person with none of those qualities can be expected to write about is politics.

Why not? I'll toss in.

I'm a registered independent. Being a poor theatrico with plenty of gay pals, no patience for religion, and a general disdain for NASCAR and chewing tobacco, I suppose I'm about as blue as most of you. I do have a few values that I'd consider conservative, and oddly enough, the one that is probably the most unpopular among my friends is the one that matters most to me. I'm gonna throw it out there because maybe I need to be educated on this point.

I think the whole idea of government arts funding is abominable.

I guess I don't think the government should stop offering arts funding...I think we should stop accepting it. If an artist accepts a grant from the NEA, or some state or local endowment, doesn't that government body become the artist's patron? Doesn't the artist then become beholden to serve that organization's interests? Can't an artist who is subsidized by such a body be considered ludicrous for demanding free speech from his/her backer?

A couple of my buddies, both much more learned and qualified than I, had a recent and kind of volatile debate about what a theatre company owes (artistically) to the guy who donates the chairs. I won't dwell on that too much, but it got me thinking. A lot of folks will admit that if your sponsor doesn't like the direction your work takes, then he, she, it or they are justifiable in declining to re-up the next time you send an appeal. Doesn't it follow, then, that if the government says "there's no money for you again this year" it's really just a blanket assessment that our stuff (all art) just isn't the valid investment it once was?

I've got more to say, but I'm at a loss for articulation. Really this post is more an invitation to correct me than anything else. To wrap it up, I'll just say that I'm not deaf to the argument that "Maybe the Goodman doesn't need it, maybe Lookingglass doesn't, but the storefronts should have the same resources for growth that they big kids did back then." My response is similar to the one I give to the idea that poor folks need WalMart...and it's not original. Voltaire said it first: "No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible."

Tell me how and why I'm wrong.


1 comment:

  1. The work that a group does and the style of work they do generally remains consistant. The way in which that work is conducted can vary depending on the variety of different factors that go into creating that production: director, cast, stage management, producers, etc. This might be a chicken or the egg style arguement, but I think that patronage should never hinge on a single production. Also patrons should never be involved in the creative process. A patron should put money into a company or production based on the entire body of work of the company or ensemble. If there is no precedent to base this choice on, then patrons should put in money based on the pitch. When the government puts money into anything, it should be based on the good of the community. If that community deems that project to be unworthy of those funds, then the funds should be withdrawn. Community centric art. That sounds reasonable to me.