Contributed by Guest Blogger of the week Amanda Feldman.
I once heard it said that the theatre industry was the second largest industry in NYC behind finance. I’m not exactly sure how this statistic was measured or who stated it, but it sounds accurate so I’m going with it as fact. Figure if you count Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway, non-profits and for profits we are a pretty huge force to be reckoned with, but I don’t think we have ever acted as a singular group and I think that’s sad.
Last year I tried to coordinate activities for World Theatre Day and I was taken aback by some of the resistance and mistrust that I encountered. Theatre Communications Group was skeptical about Broadway getting involved and stealing their limelight. ART/NY was interested but mainly concerned about what was in it for their members and were protective of their resources, because after all the World Theatre Day Coalition wasn’t a member of ART/NY. The Theatre Development Fund was surprisingly very interested in getting involved, but I didn’t seek them out in time to really help the cause. I wasn’t asking for much but I was surprised by how protective everyone was. I’ll talk more about World Theatre Day in my next blog, but what I hope to one day achieve is a much friendlier open New York City theatre community.
Based on a T-Shirt idea that Jenny Greeman and Lanie Zipoy came up with at a Dish meeting last year where they wanted to create a T-Shirt that said, I Heart OOB, which I still think is a genius idea, I would like to create a T-Shift that says “I Am New York City Theatre.” Then for one day a year everyone should wear it - from the Broadway theatre owners to the Indie theatre stage manager to all actors and designers alike. I think it would make a huge impact on the City and perhaps foster a sense of community amongst us. I think if we always identified as theater artists - not downtown theatre artists versus Broadway theatre artists - it would do a lot to encourage unity. Plus proceeds could go to a cause we all care about such as the Department of Cultural Affairs to be re-granted to us or could go to an arts education programs or Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Speaking of BC/EFA, I think the way Tom Berger brought that post show fundraising campaign to the Indie Theatre world last year for a week was genius. I’d love to see more and more Indie Theatre companies take part in doing the post-show fundraising drives for such a good cause. Sure we won’t raise as much money as Broadway but proportionally I bet we can reach equally as much.
Perhaps my dreams of a singular NYC theatre scene may be naïve but as someone who has worked on Broadway, Off Broadway, and in the Indie theatre world, I can guarantee we have more in common than we do separating us.