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June 18, 2007

Not Really Laughing

by Molly Sheridan

Amused? Darkly amused, perhaps. Much of that might stem from the fact that the performing art that I take in most often and with the greatest pleasure tends to fall outside these issues--new music performers putting up a show wherever they can get a booking, dancers working in weird studio spaces, theater pieces in church basements. Do I envy them their shoddy, lack-of-funding-support situations when other institutions have enough cash to pay (at all/reasonable salaries/very large dollar amounts to) their talent? Not in the least. But one thing they tend not have a problem with is audience engagement. They have blogs, myspace pages, youtube videos and mp3s online; they work hard to share their art with other people, online and off, and as a result they have fans, in the Mets sense of the word.

But without institutional support, they work other jobs, have to perform erratically, have no help when it comes to advertising, arranging rehearsals, and general promotion. All this effectively means their shows average closer to one or two hundred people in the house, not 2,000. It's the other side of the coin. So, do I wish less funding was applied to organizational life support and more went to living American art/artist development? Personally, all things considered, most definitely. Yes, Doug is quite right to point out how much other media is also struggling in this quickly evolving environment. But we've been complaining about this for a lot longer, without making much progress. Maybe artists can meet in the middle and share positioning in some manner? Make a trade of skills? Make some appropriate alliances and team up to help the other side do what they do best? Association is the bedrock of iTunes purchases and Netflix rentals. Everyone already knows how this game works.

Posted by msheridan at June 18, 2007 11:28 AM


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