As a barometer, what I think about the health of theaters and cultural arts centers across the United State may not be accurate. My experiences in my role as the founder and president of a cultural art center may be atypical. It was, however, a conversation with a person of national note (a friend) who knows what’s going on in the art world that discourages me. He said he wouldn’t patronize me. Part of me wishes he had. Now I am unanchored. What did he tell me?
It was something I didn’t want to hear, and even now as well; but it’s out of my control. I, however, haven’t given up. I have started over three times. Each time I have been further ahead, closer to achieving my goals. I should feel good about that, and do. Now I have a bigger venue, with more backing. I am excited about all of the connections; and it looks as if it may work. (This blog is one of the connections I’ve made, and, if my friend is right and I’m true to myself, it is one that I must make.)
My friend, over tea and black berry pie, gave me the news. With the economic downturn, he didn’t need to tell me that arts organizations across the country were hurting. I knew that and knew the pain from my having lost a considerable amount of money from trying to create a community arts center here in Tucson. (I’m still trying, but I’m not plunging ahead blindly now. Instead I’m blogging. It’s fun.) In that context, my friend said wherever he went art organizations were asking him to raise funds and that told him they were all hurting. Until then in our conversation, I thought we were talking about economics, and we were and we weren’t. If it were only economics, then logically we would recover and could go then from there.
According to my friend, certain undeniable changes have occurred. Those changes are due to the development and popularity of the Internet. Yes that’s it: the Internet! The truth is, according to my friend again, people no longer want cultural arts centers. In large enough numbers, they don’t want or need to leave their homes. Because of the Internet, they have what they need there. And though we wish it weren’t so, the worlds in which we had invested so much of our lives are dead or dying. Can they be revived? I don’t know. I would hope so, but from what I’ve seen…
That is not all. There is the potential of the Internet. It’s wild and worldwide. In here I can truly call myself a novice. I think we’re all novices. And to me that’s scary. I grew up in the theater, and now my friend is telling me that people don’t want it. Oh, shit! How to begin all over again? Now the whole world is truly the stage. That means we’ll have to learn how to make that stage work. I haven’t begun to think in any concrete way of how to do that. Yet I continue to think of myself as a dramatist. I love the intimacy of live theater and can’t honestly see how the Internet could possibly replace that. (Yet I’m told it has.)
In that regard, I’m asking for help.
Randy (Exploring Web 2.0)