Saturday, October 22, 2011

Free all the monsters

Trouble started this year when theatre attendance took a triple hammering because of the Christchurch earthquake, the global financial crisis, and the Rugby World Cup, Ms Beaton said.

Four production staff were axed and the theatre programme was cancelled from the beginning of this month.

The only show now listed at Downstage is a three-day run of a dance work called Carnival Hound in November.

But the theatre was also being used for other activities such as rehearsals, workshops and dance classes, Ms Beaton said. "We need the [council] funding because we don't have audiences. Audiences are our major generator of income at the moment."
No, obviously they are not. If you do not have any audiences because you cancelled the programme, then audiences are not likely to be your major generator of income. I do not know what is going down at Downstage, but it does not seem to include thinking. Which is a pity, because not only does Downstage have a notable history but the Hannah Playhouse in which it serves is one of the best buildings in New Zealand.

But what really bothers me about this story is the scene where Ms Beaton says it is disrespectful to describe the funding request as a bailout. Of course it is a bailout. Contrary to Ms Beaton's financial analysis, Downstage's problems are not the result of the crash, the quake and the rugby. They have been going on for years, as this post from the estimable Grant Robertson's blog - dated 4th November, 2008 - indicates. At this time in the Theatre's history, a little less bluster and a little more humility on the the part of the CEO might be appropriate. Perhaps not having a CEO might be a good idea. Perhaps theatres and other arts organisations should be put back into the hands of the people who make art rather than being controlled by pretend executives. Just a thought.

Oh dear, this post is beginning to sound like an editorial. Here's The Bats, with a new song from their new album, a song which has the same name as the album:

Read about it here.

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