Where the Art is

I just happened upon a blog entry that was in response to an opinion piece published recently in the Huffington Post. I guess this article had made the rounds of the social networks last week, and I, despite my plethora of wasted hours in the TwitterFace* universe, somehow missed it.

(* I doubt I just made up this word, but I like it.)

It seems Mr. Kaiser is of the opinion that there isn’t enough good art being produced these days, and longs for the time when creators like Merce Cunningham and Tennessee Williams were filling our theaters, studios and halls. He feels the fine arts haven’t kept up, and that the development of new and innovative works is only found in the newer mediums, tv, film, etc. He goes on to conclude:

But the institutional nature of our arts ecology, a relatively recent phenomenon, means that groups of people are now more responsible for arts making than the individual. Boards, managers and producing consortia are overly-involved.

As Chavisory points out, Mr. Kaiser’s point goes astray, from artist to arts organizations being the reason for shortcoming.

Mr. Kaiser’s points are valid, or at least his facts seems accurate. It often does seem that many a board member or arts manager, or financial manager even, are at the center of deciding what gets produced or how. Sometimes an institution takes a risk, but only when it can be balanced by something else that can pay the bills. Look at the season of any 6-, 7- or 8-figure budgeted theatre company and if you see something new, daring or possibly “not for everyone” it likely has a counterpart or two that will more than make up for the lack of warm seats.

But really, I’m with Chavisory on this one. I know there’s new and creative and edgy and real art being performed. I can name half a dozen things off the top of my head that are appearing on stages in Minneapolis this week, or dozens this year. All with the inventiveness to be a potential Williams or an Ailey. But if you’re spending your days at the Kennedy Center and living amongst that ilk, if you’re looking to commercial theaters for your inspiration….well, you’re not going to see it often enough. Mr. Kaiser ought to consider going to the out-of-the-way, shoe-string budgeted productions where the work is more about the work, the results, the art, the story, the connection to an audience….rather than balancing the budget.

It’s no surprise Mr. Kaiser doesn’t know of the art that’s out there.

And if he did, perhaps he could help re-develop that commercially viable, yet artistically veined, performance world for which he longs, and help any of the brilliant playwrights, directors or choreographers reach a larger audience.

Mr. Kaiser may be his own solution.

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