So I wrote this a few weeks back and it sparked a bit of interest, including a response from the bad ass himself . . . Don Hall.
My man, Mr. Thurman has been tossing out the pro-corporate propaganda like a madman lately, so I feel I need to respond a bit.
Here is what I'm "pro"
I'm pro building infrastruture that will allow for art to be produced over the long term.
I'm pro finding a way for artists and arts admin to have a viable life in the arts.
I'm pro the arts being supported by the community (defining the word community as broadly as possible). This support can come from buying a ticket, donations, whatever.
Does that then make me pro corporate? You can decide that, but I just wanted some clarity.
Don fires his second salvo:
Likewise, the pro-corporate "How Could You Not Want to Be Like Us?" anthem being sung over in the Halls of the Corporate Class requires that those not interested in the bells and whistles of heavy administration and corporate structure be shown as young or lazy or stupid. Because, after all, who wouldn't want to do a whole season or have $500,000 to play with, right?
Did you notice the stereotypes that Don is tossing around with reckless abandon? He quickly creates a world where the Corporate Class sneers down at those who don't choose to be like us.
If someone doesn't choose to build a 501c(3) or start a for profit organization to create art that is a perfectly valid (and often smart) choice.
My concern is that some of those people who are make that choice are doing so because of folks like Don who are quick to mock the Corporate Class.
Who knows, some of those artists out there may ALSO be powerful leaders of arts institutions, the two aren't mutually exclusive.
But they will never know what they are capable of if the option isn't at least considered.
Further, the idea that by pointing out that the scrappy little company with a meager budget and modest financial ambitions is not noble, does not, in any way, define going the corporate theater route as any more noble or redeeming.
It doesn't. But I'm also pushing back against the notion that somehow those that walk away from the "corporate structure" are the REAL ARTISTS while those who try to build organizations are somehow abandoning their artistic integrity. It's a notion that Don, in a sometimes subtle and sometimes obvious way, pushes pretty hard.
The idea that theater is noble at all is silly as shit. Regardless of how big your company is or how much Audience Development you do, all theaters are brothels, selling pieces of ourselves for dimes; all artists are dancing monkeys hoping for a peanut and that noble "Please Donate to Our Theater" pitch is only different from the homeless cat on the overpass with a sign saying "Will Work for Food" in it's presentation (and use of deodorant.)
Nobility doesn't come into play when you're begging to be paid to entertain.
Teachers are noble. Firefighters are noble. Theater folk? Not so much so.
I'm sorry but I'm not sure what nobility, or lack thereof, has to do with any of this?
Getting paid to enterain has nothing to do with nobility.
It has plenty to do with brains, talent, persistence, creativity and luck.
As far as the whole theatres as brothel thing . . . that's real provocative. It doesn't make a ton of sense. But it is provocative.
Finally, Adam makes the pitch that if only he could "magically give them enough money to be properly resourced for their next artistic event" we'd all be won over to the dirge-like grind of making art a 9-to-5 job.
There isn't an artist alive that wouldn't take his magical $500,000. Not fucking one.
As hard as it may seem to understand, not everyone wants to fall into line with the corporate dogma; not everyone is interested in writing grants; not everyone is invested in long term sustainability of the infrastructure and Board agendas associated with that freakin' $500,000.
Did you see that? He did again. Corporate dogma! I can see the artist all over the world now thinking to themselves . . . "yeah, f*ck corporate dogma" . . . AND THAT'S THE DAMN PROBLEM.
I have seen artistic aspirations blown to pieces because the leaders of those organizations have bought into that corporate dogma thing Don so casually throws around.
The idea that art is so damn fragile that if it gets near anything that smells "business related" it will lose it's luster is a product of childish and immature thinking.
If people don't want to write grants, etc. then don't. But don't just walk away from that choice because you're worried about being label by folks like Don.
I have worked in the "corporate" arts world all my life. I have a ton of respect for people who choose to build arts institutions.
And I love the arts.
It bores me to tears when people imply (and let's be real, that's what Don is implying) that somehow the corporate class lacks the same love and passion for the arts that others have.
Both sides of the coin have their merits. That's the point.
Response concluded, we will now hash this out in the comment section of Don's blog, which you can get to here.