Responding to Budget Cuts

When Lansing, Michigan's resident professional theater company, BoarsHead, faced the loss of state budget money, donor money from the death of a patron, and other unexpected revenue losses, it was forced to change its season mid-year. Their final show originally featured a guest director and a larger cast. Instead, that show was replaced with a one-man show called Underneath the Lintel and was directed in-house by the Artistic Director.

The resulting show is a fascinating one that certainly stands up to the rest of the season's offerings. While it was brought in as a cost-saving measure, it is still an outstanding production.

What's interesting, though, is the number of people calling in for reservations who then decide not to reserve when they learn that the show has changed. Given that neither show was particularly well-known or famous, it surprises me that so many people would decide not to come.

Perhaps it is the reservations about a one-hander. While many one-person shows can be entertaining, they are also hit or miss as they rely so heavily on the talents of one actor--an actor who then has no one to feed off. It's a type of show that audiences are likely to see a whole lot more of as arts budgets tighten and theaters are forced to look everywhere they can to save a dollar.

Down the road from BoarsHead, Williamston Theatre has been forced to cut short the run of its final show in the season. Money that they were promised was frozen along with all other arts money in the state.

Given the ongoing budget crisis in Michigan and in other states--and the general mood of the populace which is a hostility toward any taxes--arts organizations may need to start finding ways to survive without public money.

May 24, 2007 11:51 AM | | Comments (1)



Interesting post, Bridgette (especially for me, since I'm a Michigan native now living elsewhere). It disappoints me to hear that many audience members canceled once they learned of the change in show -- while I know many one-person (or small-cast) shows are driven by economic reasons, I've found that there's no correlation between the size of the cast and the quality of the show.

Madison Repertory Theatre did a fantastic production of "I Am My Own Wife" (Jan. 2006, if memory serves me) and University Theatre at the University of Wisconsin-Madison did a fabulous production of "Master Class" in summer '06 (not a one person show, of course, but the actress playing Maria Callas must carry about 90% of the show, as you know). And then I've seen large-cast shows that were lackluster.

And aside from the whole issue of quality, it's too bad that those audience members couldn't rally around a theater in trouble, rather than bail. While I wouldn't pay to see a show I really wasn't interested in, more and more (as I get older and have a bit more discretionary income) I feel like paying to see a show is a way of "voting" with my dollar to show what I value. It's not just about entertainment, but about wanting to sustain local creative culture.

Leave a comment

Recent Comments


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by FlyOver published on May 24, 2007 11:51 AM.

Art in the American Outback: the Southeast was the previous entry in this blog.

Contact us is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

AJ Ads

AJ Blogs

AJBlogCentral | rss

About Last Night
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Artful Manager
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
blog riley
rock culture approximately
critical difference
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dog Days
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
Life's a Pitch
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
Mind the Gap
No genre is the new genre
Performance Monkey
David Jays on theatre and dance
Plain English
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Real Clear Arts
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
Rockwell Matters
John Rockwell on the arts
Straight Up |
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude

Foot in Mouth
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Seeing Things
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...

Jazz Beyond Jazz
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...

Out There
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Serious Popcorn
Martha Bayles on Film...

classical music
Creative Destruction
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
The Future of Classical Music?
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
On the Record
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Slipped Disc
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds

Jerome Weeks on Books
Quick Study
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera

Drama Queen
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
lies like truth
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world

Aesthetic Grounds
Public Art, Public Space
Another Bouncing Ball
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Modern Art Notes
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog
Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.