So I had my first fall meeting on the Board of TCG... and it was really interesting. It's not every day I get to hear some of the greatest minds in the field discuss the field. Hearing, from their mostly management perspectives - what they felt the most important issues are, what the projections for the future are, what solutions were at hand, etc. - gave me a lot to mull over. After the meeting the gala honoring Brian Dennehy was in full swing. Over $30,000 was raised from the text-to-pledge campaign, plus whatever was raised in ticket sales. It was beautiful.
Overall, what caught my attention most during the day's and evening's talks, was how much our field is a microcosm of national social/political/economic dynamics. Growing inequity (derived from past structural inequalities), and the bunkering down of group-interst is causing increased tensions and threatens to splinter our industry even more than it is, I think. It is extremely important that we find common ground, a common set of values from which to operate, a common objective for which to strive, for the more group interests are asserted, the more distrust develops, the more isolation and exclusion increases and the further we get from the possiblity of resolution - where resolution is having an industry where all participants can make a living, make a useful contribution, and have an affirmative impact on the evolution of our society. I think TCG's "Theatre Nation" initiative is a great start to acknowledging our collective responsibility for the health of the industry's eco-system, not just to our group-interests. There is a balance threshold that we as an industry (and we as a nation) have tipped, and, unless we restore it (assuming balance was ever reached in the first place) and maintain it, we will experience more wide spread disunity, wasteful and duplicitave spending of resources, distrust, exclusion, isolation, fear, terrorism, bullying, war and overall hardship for everyone... except perhaps for the 1%... but evenutally they will be made to feel the hardship too, for despite their financial fortifications, they can never be completely disconnected.
Part of me feels this hardship is inevitable. Part of me has no faith in the resourced and powerful of our industry, of our nation, or of humanity to opt to share. We/they don't share. People who have don't share. They/we may distribute through "charitable giving," and "support," but they/we don't relinquish control, they/we won't dismantle the heirarchy at the top of which we/they are perched unless
compelled, often through forced destruction or through internal imploding. History is ripe with examples. This is what humans have done. Over the millenia we go through the cycle of destruction only to rebuild the heirarchy, greedily race to the top of it, polarize, balkanize, and destroy ourselves again. This is the cycle. Humanity has never evolved beyond this cycle... we have never overcome our collective belief in the inherent danger of "others", our belief in scarcity, our fear and our greed. But, in recognizing this as so, we could consciously choose to move beyond this dynamic, couldn't we? Maybe not.
I am reminded of the Normandy school district in Missouri finding the integration solution - the only solution ever implemented that resulted in an egalatirian public school system for all children - through the loss of accrediatation; that is, through the destruction and dissolution of the school district the other districts were forced to let the kids from Normandy in. It was not a strategy the Normandy district officials intentionally employed (I think), but it worked for the betterment of the whole, nonetheless. Donald Trump has intentionally used destruction as a strategy as well. He has filed for bankruptcy to accelerate the destruction so that he can get to the (re)building without suffering any more loss. So what will the theatre industry do? Will we choose to share? Will we pray for an accidental solution? Will we wait for the inevitability of destruction? Will we accelerate destruction? And once destroyed (or blank-slated), what will we rebuild - more of the same under another name, or a system that actually promotes the balance that is necessary for our industry to thrive in the long term?
One might label this as socialist or communist... this idea of balance. I neither reject nor accept that label. I am indifferent to those "accusations," because I don't think of balance as political. I think of it as natural; interdependence the way nature thrives and functions. Our arts eco-system must function according to the laws nature for nothing can continually defy nature and promote life. We should embrace the wisdom and intelligence of nature in our industry. We must find and maintain an ever shifting egoless balance. Like the waves in an ocean. If we don't... we can't be mad at the tidal wave.