A Public Conversation Among People Who Care
March 09, 2005One additional thought..
Just one quick additional observation. Before we get too enamored with the notion of experimentation and innovation as the raison d'etre of the not for profit, let me just add that it is one--but not the only--reason that justifies our existence. The notion that we make a social/ educational/ cultural contribution may or may not translate into innovative aesthetics.
Many theatres work to give voice to communities who have been historically denied a larger public platform. Theatres of color, gay and lesbian theatres, theatres working to capture rural traditions, theatres for the deaf--these and many more--are a critical part of the not for profit landscape and are vital to our larger social health, even if they choose to operate within relatively conventional dramaturgical structures and patterns (as many, but by no means all, of them do). I worry that in our emerging focus on innovation/experimentation, we're inadvertantly distorting the shape and value of the sector as a whole.
Posted by bcameron at March 9, 2005 07:49 AM
I have been trying to decide where to wade in and this looks like a good spot. Why is it that a case must be made? If the arts on which this discussion is focusing were a vital part of the lives of the majority of our population there would be no need for this weblog.
In my consulting work, I challenge arts boards with the question, “How are the lives of the people of your community made better by the work you do?” The arts have incredible benefits to offer, giving voice and hope, as Ben says, to communities traditionally ignored by the arts.
However, this is a mode of thinking that is, by and large, not taught to artists and generally unthought by arts boards and management. And, it is threatening to those (like myself) whose training and life-work lie in rarified artistic expression that may not readily translate to those with whom we might hope to relate. To me, the question is not about the “case” to be made for the arts. Rather, it is what are the arts *doing* to make themselves vital to their communities. Good answers to the latter question make the former superfluous.
Posted by: Doug Borwick at March 9, 2005 10:29 AM