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...]

Finding the Practical in the Esoteric


I’m writing this from Chicago, on the first stop of our multi-city tour to disseminate the results of the intrinsic impact research.  Over this past weekend, Alan Brown and I have been pulling together the presentation for these stops, and I’ve found myself thinking about and reacting to the wonderful coverage we received this past week from HowlRound, Jumper, You’ve Cott Mail and others—and the response that that coverage has received. Last week, I had the fortune to participate in the … [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...]

A Divided Country Still

  This post originally appeared on the Theatre Bay Area Chatterbox at As we celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and remember the great strides that were made, despite tremendous resistance, in the 1960’s by King and many other brave men and women, it’s important to also note that, by and large, the theatre community continues to be a divided country. Our genre, at least in the United States, and at least in the more mainstream … [Read more...]

What Inequality Looks Like and Where and When It Starts

"Not Equal" by holeymoon on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

A couple weeks ago, I was the recipient of a string of emails that are making the rounds—emails stemming from a lack of diversity in the panelists at this year’s National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) Conference.  These emails, which were, in order: An email from Roberto Bedoya, the executive director of the Tucson Pima Arts Council, to Bob Lynch, head of Americans for the Arts, which produced NAMP (ultimately forwarded to a variety of other people by Roberto), An email from Bob Lynch to Justin … [Read more...]

Art and Happiness: New research indicates 4 out of 6 happiest activities are arts-related (!)

"Happiness" by Aprile C from Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.

Last week, an article that was actually published nearly a month ago on passed through my Facebook feed four times in two days.  The article, titled “The three times people are happiest—you may be surprised,” rather vaguely discussed a research project out of the London School of Economics that was mapping happiness levels associated with various activities—and the results, per the article, indicated that, behind sex and exercise, the next most happiness-inducing activity was … [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...]

On (in)Appropriate Cultural Appropriation

Nakotah Larance in Totem, photo by Greg Horn.

Nakotah Larance in Totem, photo by Greg Horn.In the late 1800's, William Cody, more popularly known as Buffalo Bill, toured the United States and Europe with Buffalo Bill's Wild West, a production that featured sharpshooters, re-enactments of Indian attacks (it was said to have ended with a presentation of Custer's Last Stand) and, later (when the title was appended to include "and Congress of Rough Riders of the World"), feats of derring-do from people from the Middle East, Mongolia, Central … [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 Evaluation Problem


Diane Ragsdale and Devon Smith have written tandem arguments about the difference and relative laxness of arts incubators over technology incubators. I won’t go into all that they’ve said, as you should be reading their blogs anyway, but in sum it comes down to an argument that arts incubators, rather than adopting the put up or shut up attitude of tech incubators, whose average support time is 33 months and at the end of which they let you fly or fall on your own, instead adopt a system that … [Read more...]

This Is Your Brain On Art (sizzle sizzle)

Photo: "O is for Occipital Lobe" by Eric on Flickr.  Used under Creative Commons license.

Photo: "O is for Occipital Lobe" by Eric on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.Kristin Shumaker is a closet neuroscientist masquerading as a lowly, hardworking production manager at Dell’Arte, a theatre and school in Blue Lake, California.  She spends most of her time now coordinating the busy production schedule of the Dell’Arte organization, but in a past life she studied biology, and she has remained fascinated with the physiological effects of theatre.  She wants to know what art … [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...]