I participated in an exciting gathering this morning at the Circle X Theatre in Atwater Village. Several Los Angeles area theatres were represented, including Absolute Theatre, Need Theater, Celebration Theatre, Coeurage Theatre Company, The Production Company and Boston Court. Also in attendance was Footlights, the LA Stage Alliance, the Global Theatre Project and the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative.
Part of the meeting focused on new play development and a recent conference in Washington D.C. at the Arena Stage. We even watched some video of some larger east coast theatres discussing issues like promoting diversity and serving their communities as a priority in new play development.
But what was truly encouraging was our collective resolution to explore new ways of supporting each other and developing the Los Angeles theatre industry through regular gatherings and trying to reach out to even more local theatre companies to share issues and solutions, chief among them audience development. Could it be that Los Angeles will be known as a theatre town someday? Is it already? There’s quite a few of us here. Add your voice to our next meeting and bring some ideas to the table.
I think we all feel a bit of urgency these days, especially when the U.S. House of Representatives is making noises about completely gutting the NEA, and Rocco Landesman, the leader of the NEA, has recently been quoted saying that there may be too much supply in the theatre industry (i.e., too many theatres). He thinks maybe it’s time to consider giving larger grants to fewer institutions, further stratifying the allocation of scarce resources. It would be nice to see someone in that position that would advocate the reverse approach, and maybe companies like the Knightsbridge might have a shot at some support. But admittedly, it’s an incredibly complex issue when part of your concern is trying to foster a living wage for an art industry, and it’s evident from his comments that he truly cares about the people that depend on a check from theatre.
— Mark Petrie