To quote myself: "yes people you read that right - she has managed to raise 600K give or take for international artist exchange activities for LA artists - COMMISSIONER LEVIN & HONORABLE MAYOR BLOOMBERG, THE GAUNTLET HAS BEEN THROWN> What are you doing to match or compete with LA"
But this was not the case.
Instead, culturebot had written a critique of the field represented by those at the TCG conference and what he was reading in the twitter feeds...
Just sharing with the rest of you the thoughts I expressed in that response.
Okay so I just have to make a little response here, as it was my twitter feed that led to this culturebot blog posting.
First, while I don’t disagree with much of what you are saying in the below, I do however want to pause for a moment and in fact explain why I was THRILLED to be there, and am very very grateful to TCG for the scholarship they gave me to go (full disclosure).
The most fascinating thing I learned was a kind of paradox:
On the one hand:
It seemed to me like the main programming that TCG put together – the Sudanese group, the conversation between Anne Bogart & Bill T Jones, the future trends talk by a Board Member of BAM, the huge discussion about working with and through international context, the emphasis on including Millenials/Gen-Yers, hell JOHN WATERS as opening speaker, or – was very familiar to me, to where I come from in our little world of Contemporary Performance and Aesthetic risk taking, (so familiar in fact as I was listening to Mei Yin from Under the Radar talking about what she would do if she ran the Theater Project in Baltimore I became a little paranoid that she had been secretly having me wire-tapped!)
On the other hand:
Sitting in my Budget Affinity discussion groups (Group 3 : $1-2.9 Million) I felt like those of us from New York were speaking a completely foreign language and that became most apparent to me when Kristin Marting from HERE asked how other groups were finding ways of financially sustaining their development of “New Works”. She defined it along the lines of how we all understand it – process-based work that has the full team with sets, lights, materials, media etc in the room for what some might consider extensive periods of time. As people were answering her though, they all kept talking about playwrights. Playwrights. Playwrights.
They do a table reading.
Playwright does rewrites.
They stage the piece of literature the playwright wrote in a couple of weeks.
They open it.
In other words, it seemed to me that “new work”, heck, even “theater” for what seemed like 99% of the conference is still staging a literary artifact – something that so far as I see the world we as an aesthetic field moved beyond back in the 1910s. And this seemed to be the case when discussions about the artistic programming and development came up in all the other lunches, break out groups and discussion sessions.
I’m not sure what to make of it, but what I am left wishing TCG had had was a Plenary discussion about precisely this issue.
Why aren’t the Regional Theaters and other spaces out there making room in their programming and development work for Contemporary Performance?
- What are the barriers?
- What are the strategies to overcome the barriers?
- How can we have Contemporary Performance in EVERY venue in 3 years? (At least for a couple of weeks of programming, or a festival, or something.)
Second, the wonderful thing about Twitter as my TIME magazine is telling me this week is that the 140 character limit requires us to be concise. However, that very character limit also limits in many ways the possibilities for deep discourse (hence perhaps the fact that we all also have blogs). I was only able to be in one place at one time and as I decided to set aside my Artistic, Curatorial, and Dramaturgical interests within this broad National context which does not as I said above seem to share much in common with us folks in NY, I focused on my Development and Strategic Planning sides and chose to attend those Break Out Sessions. I say this to preface the following: I have been posting all the notes I took at the conference on line at my blog http://idratherwatchthefatkiddance.blogspot.com/. Those notes are Development/Admin heavy because those were the sessions I went to. There were many discussions about Theater in Conflict Zones, about Art in the 21st Century, about Programming and Artist Development models I could not attend. And from what I heard from folks who did, there are many folks out there in the National context who are beginning to catch on, and think about the content they produce and the ways they produce it.
What I left the conference with was a sense that all of these people care deeply and passionately about what they are doing in their various communities, in their various ways, and with their various flaws. I also left with a sense that these people want desperately to be better, better at making “theater”, better at supporting artists, better at sharing with their communities. Do they get it wrong much of the time, sure, (lets be honest though, so do we) but I wonder if an outreach campaign ala Howard Dean and the Democrats of going into their houses and politely talking to them and helping them along into the 21st century, might not be the best strategy to winning their hearts and minds over to Contemporary Performance and Best Practices in the Arts.
Mostly they are scared. They are scared of being forced to create new financial models, they are scared of this new Social Media thing, they are scared of new art forms, they are scared of risk and of failure. And that fear does not stem from stupidity or irrationality or arrogance. It stems from not understanding, feeling overwhelmed, and perhaps a healthy suspicion of the flashy latest trendy new thing. We have to help them develop a vocabulary for talking about all of these things, we have to help them develop ways of evaluating the quality of this work, and we have to help them and our selves figure out how to get audiences who share these same fears on board as well. And we have to let them help us understand where they are coming from, what their successes have been, and what their strengths are. I think there are many things we can in fact learn from them.
All this said over the next couple of days I will be posting to FatKidDancing a kind of over-view TCG Conference Just the Highlights as well as some suggestions to all of us about how to move forward. TCG will also be posting their own overview and notes I believe. Sadly they did not record and podcast the sessions – they said this was to protect the innocent and ensure open, honest dialog, without fear of it being public. TCG hasn’t quite gotten the fact that with twitter and blogs, everything is public now, but I applaud the effort to make us feel safe to discuss our dirty laundry as well as our secret new ideas.