Friday, October 19, 2012

Cheap Art: And What it Means for Your Theatre Pursuits!

Cheap Art, for as much as my research brings me, was coined by the Bread and Puppet Theater in 1979. You can read their Cheap Art Manifesto here. Here I want to offer my ideas about why I like the Cheap Art Philosophy and what it should mean for every Theatre Artist.

Key Points on Cheap Art

  • Art without the doodad's: Cheap art encourages participation. Whether or not you have started taking classes in technique or sunk lot's of money in the latest gadgets you can make Art. The key reason why some people don't start to pursue their dreams making art is because they may not feel that they have the right tools or have taken the classes. In Cheap Art you start where you are with what you have. As you build your craft and pursue a life in the arts you can start to progress but you must start somewhere.

  • Common Art: Cheap art is not for the museum or the big galleries. The core belief behind cheap art is that it is for the enjoyment of the common people. It can be done anywhere and made with anything. In the world of theatre it means that it can be as common as a pratfall or as complex as an intricate dance. Just because you may not have the ability to book the big performance halls or have access to the best facilities doesn't mean that you shouldn't display your craft wherever you are! Even your living room or your kitchen isn't exempt to being a showcase to a masterpiece!

  • No Shame: Cheap Art isn't afraid of being labeled "weird" or "strange". Cheap Art is not ashamed of asking money for what it does. When you decide to make art your profession you deserve to be treated like a professional and that means compensation. But don't just hold out for the big bucks. Bread and Puppet sells it's wares for anywhere from ten cents to ten dollars. Charge what you can and don't be ashamed to ask for it. A lot of the actors in the Small Town Theatre World often work for pizza and bus fare and there is nothing wrong with it or with asking more.

  • Doesn't Sweat It: Cheap Art has fun and is fun! It doesn't take itself seriously. Some people believe that if you're not suffering for your art then you're not trying hard enough. But if you're not having fun pursuing your art then it is perfectly acceptable to change courses and pursue what is fun! Find what is amazing to you, the things that fill your passions. That is where the magic comes from.
So what do you think? Be sure to leave a comment below.

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