Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Our World has Permanently Changed


Contributed by Guest Blogger of the week, Brad Burgess.

Hello everybody!

I am very excited for my week here on the IT blog. Three cheers for everyone at IT by the way. Without their valuable statistical analysis and dedication to improving our industry and its understanding of itself, we would not be moving forward as fast as we all are together.

That’s where I’d like to start this week, and just address the state of the industry from my perspective over here at The Living Theatre. Judith and I talk about it often and really embrace our role as small business organizers as well as artists. In fact I think that the movement and action in the Off-Off-Broadway scene of the past year, represents some of the most innovative business being done in the new economic world.

It seems our world has permanently changed as a result of the economic crisis. We almost saw it (DOW) hit zero in a matter of months. Barack Obama probably saved us from a militaristic fascist coup, which is usually what happens in societies where the economy collapses, along with riots, death and other mostly awful stuff. It pains me to say it, but thank heavens for the bank bailout, because even though the current system is pretty lousy and well below what our intelligence is capable of, it offers hope for change, something that marshall law would have likely stifled a little. It would not have been pretty if he hadn’t acted quickly. Judith lived through the great depression as a child in the 1930’s and also feels this way.

I say this all as a pacifist anarchist who does not vote, because as JM says, “I can’t responsibly elect someone to be in charge of the armed forces.” I think that money is on its way out in the long haul. (Are there going to be trillionaires? really?) I don’t think we will let it carry on like it is now, where so few have mostly all the wealth.

Noam Chomsky said yesterday at Pace University that of the seven thousand billion dollar gross national product in the US for the year, that about 500 people made two thousand billion of it. In a country of 300 million people, that’s simply wrong. It’s wrong ethically, morally and rationally.

I think this crisis was a big wake up call on that train of thought and people are really ready to listen to suggestions that they weren’t before because the faith in the system is fading. It almost collapsed on its own.

One major sign of this change for me, was the Community Board Congress on the state of small-midsize theatres, last February at The Players Club. There, Scott Stringer challenged the city’s politicians to take care of its artists and challenged us to help make it happen. It was a great event for anyone who wasn’t there.

There we all were, industry wide from the communities we all live in, and since then there has been an amazing amount of work being accomplished on all accounts, with great effort on everyone’s part like IT, the community boards, the executive directors and administrators at all the theatres and the politicians in the city. It has been great to see what we are capable of and we are just getting started. Also, I think we, as artists, can help provide examples of good business at a time when we need to reexamine our societal practices, and make sure that equality actually becomes a real concept in practice not just in theory. This is especially true I feel at nonprofits where the goal is actually in the corporate identity of the companies. Not for profit actually means for the culture, if you define it by what it is instead of what it isn’t. At least for me that’s what it means.

So that's a start for now. I'll be addressing healthcare and how artists can fit in at some point this week as I have been working on a proposal with the help and support of Olympia Dukakis that is coming together now that yesterday happened. Also, I'll try to cover other aspects of the industry, and maybe even a little art at some point!

More tomorrow...


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