Hello, this is Andie Arthur the Executive Director of the South Florida Theatre League. I'm here with Off Stage Conversations, a semi-regular posting on what's happening in the national and international theatre community as well as post any tips that could be useful for producers.
Molly Smith, the Artistic Director of Arena Stage in DC, asked Peter Marks, the theatre critic for the Washington Post (and someone to follow on twitter), to do a series of discussions on topics of his choosing at Arena Stage. Marks decided to do three conversations: one with Artistic Directors, one with directors and one with playwrights. On Monday night, the first conversation happened -- and there was a surprising amount of candor about ticket prices, lack of younger audiences, and discussion on why female playwrights' works aren't appearing on major DC stages. Some of those in attendance shared their commentary on social media, causing those in the #2amt stream to interact with the discussion. Elissa Goetschius, the Artistic Director of the Strand Theater in Baltimore, wrote eloquently about her experience in the room and her question to the panel on how the upcoming DC Festival of Women's Voices will help artistic directors diversify their seasons.
First off, I think it's really great that the DC community is willing to get together to have these conversations, even if the content of the conversations is infuriating. In my work with the League, I try to bring people together and I've even hosted an internal diversity discussion, but we don't have anything on this scale. That being said -- what was shared here really rightfully infuriated a lot of people. To attest that there are no female playwrights in the pipeline is insulting. As a local, national and international community -- we ALL need to be better about diversity and gender parity. And if the social justice isn't enough for you -- the commercial argument should.
Along with the gender parity discussion, another thing mentioned in The Summit was ticket prices. The Center for the Future of Museums blog has a piece on ticket pricing, specifically pointing out that if non-profit theatre prices look like for-profit theatre prices, how much public benefit do they have to provide in order to jusitify non-profit support?
Similarly, Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune writes on the lack of low-end theatre options. With the erosion of the middle class, there's people buying very high end things and people buying very low end things, but the middle end market is diminishing. What is the arts equivalent of a Dollar Store?
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