Monday, February 11, 2013

Theatre Rant: What is Success?

So I was reading this article at Howl Round that featured yet another professional in the industry defending whether or not a new program to plant residents in salaried positions in the theatre have been successful or not. I find these articles everywhere I look and they're beginning to puzzle me. It seems that every time things in the industry start looking up that there are people out there ready to decry that the theatre world as we know it is dead!

So this got me started wondering about what I would call the indicators of a successful theatre venture. So below is my list of what I would consider success.

  • It supports the artist: Artists are entitled to the same salaries that everyone else has. I understand that everyone has their starving artist stage but if you're working at what you do at a place that sells what you do you should be making enough money to be doing it full time.
  • It helps support the student/starving artist: Like I said I understand that we all go through our starving artist stage where we're figuring out what we want to do, discovering our path, and pursuing our education. By offering support, and training to these people you're not only training the next generation you're making connections for people who may be working with you someday.
  • Uses a business model that makes sense for the organization: I can't say it often enough that I don't care what business model a theatre company uses. I don't care if it's non-profit/for-profit as long as what it does makes sense for the people that work their and serves the audience.  That brings me to my next point...
  • It serves the audience: There's the old saying, "I don't know about art but I know what I like". A successful company will grow and maintain an audience that likes what they do and try their hardest to keep them. Remember audience=money if you do it right.
  • Sells a Quality Product but Encourages Experimentation: Every theatre company wants quality shows but sometimes the focus is so much on shows that sell that they forget that original plays need to get out there too. Every other industry out there has an R&D department so why don't theatre companies have one too? Support and encourage New Plays!
  • It supports the community: Lastly I think a successful theatre company is one that supports the community that it lives in. And I don't mean just the local community but the state, national, and global community. Art should be a force for good and in this internet age we need to be good citizens of the local community.
Now these aren't the only factors out there for success in the theatre world. And these won't necessarily be someone else's indicators for success. But you'll find that in every good and sustainable theatre company these will be common indicators of success.

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