Does business practice transform artistic expression? Theater maven and Second City co-founder Bernie Sahlins thinks so, and explains how in his brilliant keynote speech now available on-line.
The speech was a highlight of the annual conference last week of my colleagues in the Association of Arts Administration Educators. And it captures the elegant interplay of management decisions and artistic opportunity that vexes and inspires the work of the cultural manager.
Sahlins constructs the argument around James Burbage, a sixteenth-century English entrepreneur in the arts, who ”invented” the box office. Said Sahlins:
When Burbage had that brilliant notion…he not only changed forever the structure of play presentation but (and here is the delightful and wondrous point; here is the ultimate value of what an arts administrator does), he started the process of transforming the actor from being a beggar, who humbly passed the hat, to being an artist, who was held to be of great worth to the community. And there you have the indispensable, the crucial role of your teaching: to bring to art the world’s respect and to the artist, self-respect.
Great speech. Great insights. With some high ideals for what it is we’re here to do.