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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Cash Flow Problem

Over at Martin Denton's blog, there's quite a hubub. A bit about Hurricane Katarina, a fair amount about the money issues of Off-Off Broadway Theatre.

The Fringe's success has brought about a great deal of anxiety, it seems, for the theater community in NY. I think there's something we inherently mistrust about a Fringe Festival that has a press release about their sell-out performances.

Memo to the Fringe: If you want your street cred, you won't be running around with your marketing figures. You'll be running down the credentials of the artists that you gave space to last year.

Street cred, such as it is, doesn't interest the Fringe much because they're getting New York Times cred. They're producers now, moreso than ever before, and in the current climate, it's what is demanded of them in order to stay afloat.

That's why to me it comes back to Arts Subsidies. Over at the nytheatre i, The Drilling Company's Hamilton Clancy speaks to the current Catch - 22:

"Our company [TheDrillingCompaNY] is about the same age as the Fringe and I know they are probably experiencing similar organizational pressures—namely to produce "income bearing" revenue to sustain their activity. Unfortunately, the corporate "giving" community that smaller organizations have access to favors fiscal success over artistic brilliance. The two are cousins only when a truly talented artist teams with a truly inventive entrepreneur. Sometimes they are one and the same."

The idea that you must show that your work has financial and commercial merit before you're given grant money... Much Luck to all of us. That's entirely backwards and entirely true.

The supremecy of the market to establish what is valuable in our culture needs to be fundamentally challenged. Which is why stronger, fully realized National Arts Subsidies would serve not only as a cash infusion (frankly, it couldn't do much in that capacity) but as a shift in the attitude of the powers that be. Something that says to the major public: "We pay for certain things, like art, because they are simply good for us. We keep it inexpensive and accessible, because we need it."

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