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.
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