BLOG: Random items

by Alan M. Berks • Nov. 27

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Random items

  • No one wants to go on the record, so I can’t report here the things I hear people say all the time because no one wants their name attached to anything. The things I believe myself, I repeat as though they were my own thoughts. Which maybe explains why blogs seem to be more interesting than journalism these days. Bloggers are a constantly self-corroborating source.
  • I agree with Casey Greig about patronage for some very serious reasons.

    Rich people already are supplementing the performing arts with their patronage anyway. But, by putting the administration between the money and the artist, we’re not protecting artists from the dirtiness of money, we’re just protecting them from people.

    I think it would be worthwhile for artists to trot out at cocktail parties and hear boring stories about lawyering and banking and labor disputes. I think it would be valuable for an artist to be diligent about creating something for his or her patron’s wedding anniversary. These are real life-cycle events, and artists should be a part of them.

    I’m not kidding. Would I always enjoy it? Would there be tension? Absolutely! What’s wrong with that?

    Plus, after however many years of this system where the administrators waltz the donors, we’ve basically created a world where the donors patronize the administrators and their buildings and infrastructure more than the artists and their art.

  • Few of the people I know who make a living in the performing arts truly believe they’ll be making a living in it tomorrow. And what they are somehow making into a “living” is laughable. This would be different if I knew Joe Dowling.
  • Equity makes more sense when you understand that their purpose is to get employers to approximate the working and living conditions an employee would enjoy if they worked in any other, regular industry. Their actions make more sense, but they’re still insane. On the other hand, complain all you like but it’s hard to believe any actors (including the non-union one) would get paid anything at all without the presence of Equity.
  • The lifestyle of most professional performing artists is terrifyingly similar to the employment picture that for-profit business consultants and magazines keep predicting for (or foisting on) the rest of the workforce. No job loyalty. No pension. No office. Lots of freelance. Flexible hours. In principle, you’re doing what you love, so you don’t care that you have to do it in four different locations across town all in one day. . .

    We say that art is on the cutting edge. I’m praying that’s only in terms of personal expression and spiritual understanding—something besides the cutting edge of future employment patterns. Because no professional performing artists believe that this system of job insecurity is very wonderful.

  • Writers go to Hollywood. If they can, they do. There’s money and even the opportunity to do some quality television writing. You’d be crazy not to if you have the chance. . . Sometimes, crazy people start online performing arts journals for the state of Minnesota.
  • “It’s probably the single worst time that I’ve seen in business. Advertisers are really holding their money close to their chest. And really trying to figure out what they’re spending their advertising dollars. The problem is, now there are so many ways to communicate. . . Clients are stymied by trying to figure it out,” said Susan Wehmann of Wehmann Models/Talent Inc.

    Thank you, Ms. Wehmann, for saying things on the record.

  • When you temp in an office, you realize that no matter how crazy theater people seem, at least they have experience with the word “collaboration” and some ability to work and play well with others. Sometimes, after a day at an office job, you might pray for the lack of passive-aggressive dysfunction in a rehearsal. At least people are acknowledging that they have emotions.

    Before I knew better, I thought it was the theater people who were crazy.

  • When Dominique Serrand wondered aloud where the “angels” were to save his theater, maybe he wasn’t whining as much as some people thought. Maybe he was looking for payment for copyright infringement. Think about how often Minneapolis-St. Paul corporations and tourism used Theatre de la Jeune Lune as proof of the city’s livability, cultural cache, and appeal? Northwest Airlines made the state legislature pay lots of dough for that kind of mileage.
  • What is it we sell and who can afford to buy it? Does it matter that the people who can afford it aren’t the only people we want to see it? In most other circumstances, something that is so expensive would be considered more valuable and desirable by even the people who can’t afford it. But because we really want to sell it to people who don’t think they’re the type of people who buy it, even the wealthy people who are willing to pay for it feel that it’s less valuable. A thousand dollar shirt isn’t as exciting a purchase when the fashion designer turns around and sells the same shirt for $10 to someone else. . . O, my head hurts.
  • Only the supply of bad theater out paces demand. The supply of great theater doesn’t meet demand. The problem is that people who demand “great theater” don’t know where to buy it until after they’ve seen a show. Is there an economist out there who can explain this mess to me?
  • Think about your retirement plan right now. You probably won’t have any more reason to think about it later in life. Hoping to play King Lear is not a retirement plan.

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