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In Defense of “Compulsory” Arts Education

So, I keep coming across this word.  “compulsory,” in connection to arts education.  Many of our major institutional funders (including, these days, government funders) look askance at funding youth arts engagement that is “compulsory” rather than “self-selected.”   Many audience members and supporters, upon finding out that we at Epic have major arts education programs, ask first […]

Producorial Responsibility #3: Relevance (Contributing to the National Conversation)

  A door is standing open for us. So often in the American theatre, especially in the last four years, all we hear about, all we feel, is every door is closing. Foundation assets shrinking, donor pocketbooks tightening, earned income competition growing from angles we can’t  control or sometimes even understand, audiences aging. It’s easy […]

Producorial Responsibility #2: An Emphasis on Arts Education

Having made significant steps toward ensuring artist diversity, and so at least opening the door to audience diversity, the producer’s next responsibility is to make an investment in arts education.  Let me make no bones about it: the stigma that still clings to this part of our field among so-called “serious” producers is wrong-headed and […]

You Need to Read This If You Are Interested in the Future of the American Theatre

Seriously.  In 2000, Jaan Whitehead, a seminal figure in the revolution that led to the regional theatre movement – which brought art back to communities, back from a purely commercial enterprise, back to its roots as a place artists could matter in America – published an article in American Theatre magazine called “To Have and […]

Producorial Responsibility: Artist and Audience Diversity

While artist diversity is arguably not the KEY to building audience diversity, I think it’s fair to say it’s highly unlikely for a producing organization to sustain the latter without the former.  It’s the nature of the relationship, right?  We like to see ourselves represented on stage, and meaningful or not, consciously or not, many people define […]

An Introduction to Producorial Responsibilities

  For theatre artists to matter in America, for them to exercise their core skills like fostering empathy and to paving the way for honest and impactful dialogue, organizations that produce theatre have to matter.  Simple enough, right?   But this may well be a somewhat-stickier-wicket than making sure artists matter!  Because for it to […]

Leading With Our Values

If we start from the thesis that theatre artists and their skills are critical to the health of our democracy – which I think we must if we want to matter – then it’s clearly incumbent upon non-commercial producers to increase these artists’ exposure and potential impact.  We have to put them in places and […]

How Theatre Artists Become Essential, Part 2

Despite the fairly widespread recognition of great artists as hard workers, the challenge of raising the overall value of theatre artists in the U.S. today is that most Americans just don’t see them as vital to improving daily quality of life.  Whole generations have grown up without rigorous, consistent, or engaging arts education in their […]

How Theatre Artists Become Essential, Part 1

  Before we can talk about the extrinsic value theatre artists ought to have in our society (what they get paid,   what status they are given, what percentage of taxpayer dollars funnels their way, etc…), we need to try to define their intrinsic value.  This encompasses both what they do uniquely well, and why what […]

Time to say NO to the “Scarcity Principle”

  Theatre-makers in America undeniably work in an embattled field.  Artists face low salaries, inconsistent opportunities, and the difficulties any freelance American worker must manage apropos of health insurance, retirement, and child-rearing.  The organizations that employ them face cuts, conundrums (e.g. as government funding levels decrease annually, their compliance and reporting requirements for not-for-profits increase, […]

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