The Arts Diversity Index

Correlated diversities

About a year ago, Theatre Bay Area got a small grant from the California Arts Council that allowed us to investigate how the diversity of the Bay Area theatregoing population differed from the diversity of the general population.  That report, I'm happy to say, finally comes out this week.  Below is an abbreviated version of the executive summary--the full report is available for free on Theatre Bay Area's website.  To see all of the infographics created out of this research, please click … [Read more...]

The Untenable Whiteness of Theatre


Today I'm foregoing my usual verbosity in favor of a picture.  This is a combination of US Census data, data from the Arts Diversity Index report and data from another survey of 56 Bay Area theatre companies about the diversity of their boards, staffs and artists.  Please share and discuss--the Arts Diversity Index report should be coming out shortly (we shared an executive summary and short presentation of some of the data at the Theatre Bay Area conference earlier this week).  Click to enlarge … [Read more...]

Yes/And — tackling racial diversity by looking to the things adjacent


Today, in DC, people are sporting red shirts and red scarves, red hats and pants, socks, one assumes underwear--and many of them are wandering toward the Supreme Court, where today there is hope that nine people dressed in black will carry forward a message of equality.  There's a buzz here, and it has encouraged me to think about diversity more broadly, to understand that tackling the issue of whiteness that has disseminated so widely through the blogosphere (and been discussed so eloquently … [Read more...]

First the Seed: Embracing Arts as a Means to and End


As I head to TCG to moderate a panel with Diane Ragsdale, Diane Paulus and Chad Bauman on how to better integrate art and artists into a conversation about audience engagement, I feel a little like I'm walking into the set up for a joke and I don't know the end of it.  "An arts marketer and advocate walks into a bar full of artists and says, 'Maybe art is really a means to an end...'"  Then what? I've been thinking about this shift, from a mindset where the making of art is the center of the … [Read more...]

Ordering the Threads: “interpretive artistic mediation” and accessibility in art


Lately, I’ve had to take a break from this writing in order to catch up a bit on my day job and my more domestic duties.  It is interesting, in the absence of being able to write about my random threads of thought, to watch my brain rev and churn on certain ideas without truly having a chance to sort them out.  For me, writing this blog helps align the many different strings of thought about the arts (because I’m one of those guys who seems to be constantly thinking about art) into something … [Read more...]

Fiddling with the Believing Machine

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I have had some trouble getting up the energy to be upset about the Mike Daisey problem otherwise known as #DaiseyGate.  This became obvious to me as I sat at lunch at one of my stops on the Counting New Beans tour with a bunch of mid-twenties junior staffers at major theatres and heard them rail against Daisey and his lying lies, voicing the betrayal they felt as staffers who are sometimes put in the position of lying to an audience, either knowingly or unknowingly, in the service of the art … [Read more...]

This Is A Work of Non-Fiction

This is a guest post by Alli Houseworth, an independent arts consultant and former marketing and communications director at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. I don't have anything especially interesting to say about Mike Daisey, but Alli does, so I have asked her to do it here. The views and opinions expressed are Alli's alone.   In 2010 I worked at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, when The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs (TATESJ) was “birthed” at the theatre, and the following … [Read more...]

An Obsession with the Afterimage


In June 2009, I was briefly in Washington, DC, visiting friends right after that year’s Theatre Communications Group conference in Baltimore, MD.  I was in their spare room, small and tightly packed, and it was humid because it was DC in the summer, and there was a CPU humming in the corner and various lights blinking under the desk, and I was on West Coast time still, I think—so I was checking Facebook.  Back then, I got a lot of different feeds—many more people than I see now, thanks to … [Read more...]

The Work of Presentational Art in the Age of On-Demand Technological Empowerment


I have a friend who is getting his Ph.D. in linguistics by resurrecting a dead Native American language.  Working with one member of the tribe, and drawing mostly from hundred-year-old documents that attempted to transcribe a non-written language that has since died, he is recreating, based on educated guesses, other similar tongues that have survived and, well, I don’t know what—he is recreating a lost language from scratch. I was reminded of this effort as I listened today to the … [Read more...]

Funny, Catchy and Not Too Challenging, or “At some point, you’re just an elitist f*ck.”


I was having a conversation with Arlene Goldbard about a month ago, and at some point I started getting a sour taste over some of the things we were discussing, but I couldn’t figure out why.  Our subject was the four interviews with patrons that I had conducted as part of our intrinsic impact research (which will be published, along with an essay by Goldbard, as part of the 450-page report out on the whole project, Counting New Beans: Intrinsic Impact and the Value of Art, available March 1).  … [Read more...]

Theatre as an Antidote to Isolation

"Honeycomb" by nene9 from Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

"Honeycomb" by nene9 from Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.I'm transcribing some interviews we have conducted with patrons (some of which I've written about previously) about the impact of artistic experiences on them, and I was so affected by one that I'm going to just post an excerpt of it here and let it speak for itself.  Well, speak for itself except to say that the interviewee is a man by the name of Sean McKenna who lives in Oakland, and who attends about 35 shows a year with … [Read more...]

The Uberti Effect, or The Making of Me(aning)

Max from Where the Wild Things Are. Illustration by Maurice Sendak.

Max from Where the Wild Things Are. Illustration by Maurice Sendak.At this year's National Arts Marketing Project Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, which took place this past weekend, I was hit by the Uberti Effect and it took me a while to figure out what it had done to me. Oliver Uberti was one of the plenary speakers. He is a visual artist and design editor for National Geographic magazine, and he is also gorgeous. On top of that, he is what Meredith Grey would probably term a little "dark … [Read more...]

Directing the Impact Echo

"CCC" by Dylan Boroczi from Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.

"CCC" by Dylan Boroczi from Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.Yesterday, I attended the all-day Beyond Dynamic Adaptability conference put on by the Wallace Foundation as the culminating event of their involvement in the Bay Area.  There were lots of presenters, but across all of them there seemed to be this theme that we as arts professionals needed to be focusing not only on the work created, but on what researchers Alan Brown and Rebecca Ratzkin of WolfBrown called the “impact … [Read more...]

The best art teaches us how we should behave

"Dancing With Mom" by Nagu Tron from Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

"Dancing With Mom" by Nagu Tron from Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.On Thursday of last week I finally caught up on all my blog reading, including Chad Bauman’s recent post on reconnecting with the art he was marketing by actually getting in and seeing a show.  I can relate to that feeling of drain, of forgetting the value of what we are doing (and what we’re doing it for) sometimes.  Especially with a new baby at home, and commuting 75 minutes each way to work each day, I find it … [Read more...]

In Whose Hands Does Meaning Live?

Photo: "DSC07227" by Phillip Torrone from Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

Where does the meaning of a piece of work live?  When does its particular resonance take shape?  When a playwright puts words down on paper and submits them to be produced, is there something already inherent in those words that form the shape of the meaning?  Or is the true shape of that meaning created by a director, whose particular eye and concept elevate the words from the page to the proscenium? This is not, it turns out, just an esoteric conversation.  As we move into an age … [Read more...]

Communion, Captivation and Flow – With a Little Rapture Thrown In For Spice

Prarie Dog Rapture

Last fall, I was walking with a friend on the expansive brilliantly white patio outside the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.  It was a hot day, and when my friend needed to take a call, I snuck out of the sun to stand under the large flat roof of the building in the shade, next to the cool marble walls.  The building is huge, a true monolith, and as I was looking up at the architecture, one of the many quotes they have engraved on the Kennedy Center’s walls caught my eye: “This country … [Read more...]