Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Contributed by guest blogger of the week, Zachary Mannheimer.
I’ve been out of the OOB for a little over 2 years now. I moved to NYC from London where I worked for the Royal Court and Samuel French in 2000. I founded The Subjective Theatre Company in 2001 and The Community Dish and its list serve in 2002. I was extremely active in the OOB community, and remember quite vividly when Shay and others were founding the IT Awards.
I left NYC in the summer of 2007 as I felt my contributions to the theatre world of NYC were not vital. I did, and still do, theatre with a political bent, and the bend typically leans left. As I looked around the country after the 2004 and 2006 elections, I saw, as everyone else did, a great deal of division. I’m one of those people who think art can help bridge divides, and I saw that in most of the “red” areas of the country, not a great amount of “left” theatre was taking place. This was my original impetus for leaving. I have since found that my notion of no “left” theatre was incorrect, but what I have found instead are areas where artistic expression is stifled, therefore not allowing for much debate and discourse.
I started my journey in the summer of 2007. After careful demographical research, I drove to 22 cities all around the country each with the average population of about 500,000 people. I spent 3-5 days in each city. I spoke to many theatre people amongst my interviews. All of this is documented at www.zacksblog.subjectivetheatre.org if you are interested. I chose Des Moines for many reasons, the largest being its ability to try anything once and its desire for progress in order to retain and recruit its young people; Iowa is one of the top states to attract college students, and one of the worst in keeping them.
I moved here in Oct 2007 not knowing a single person in the state of Iowa. Since then I have formed the 501c3 Des Moines Social Club – a 30,000 square foot old warehouse in the center of downtown Des Moines housing an Art Gallery (www.instinctgallery.com), 5000 square foot black box theatre (which houses 4 Resident Theatre Companies included The Subjective Theatre Company of DSM), Education Department offering over 15 arts based classes weekly, and a for-profit full bar The Sideshow Lounge – all of this can be seen at www.DesMoinesSocialClub.org. We have raised over $500,000, have 5 employees and 9 in the bar, and a unique funding model where 1/3 of all gross profits from the bar are paid as rent to the non-profit with a $50,000 cap.
I would like to use this opportunity to discuss two subjects over the course of this week: The Differences between theatre OOB and everywhere else, and how this theatre is paid for.
Tomorrow please look for a response to this recent article in the NY Times:
Wed: Reasons why my philosophy has done a 180 concerning corporate donations, and commercialism
Thurs: Differences between OOB and Des Moines (and no, not the obvious ones)
Weekend: Summary of any questions/comments
Thank you for the opportunity OOB – I miss OOB everyday – this is a wonderful way to reconnect. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!