I know I haven’t posted in awhile. Mainly, I’ve been fighting career-related depression (and some other kinds of depression. Yay!). I’d like to say I haven’t posted due to being busy, but that isn’t entirely true.

But now I have something to write about! I got accepted to Director’s Lab West 2014! It’s their 15th anniversary, too, so that’s pretty damn cool.

HECKS YES PEOPLE.



City of Angels, I will see you in mid-May.

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And you have misused your power, investors.

And you have misused your power, investors.

Let’s all heave a huge sigh of relief – “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” will close in the first week of January 2014. I am considering throwing a party to celebrate the end of a show that has been more cursed than MacBeth, and which has left a dark stain on theatre history.

Not only did the show get terrible reviews, cause cast injuries, and perpetuate the stupid idea that entertainment needs to be flashy and big to be entertaining, but this awful musical will, apparently, have record losses as well, to the tune of $60 million. The show cost $75 million, twice as much as any previous gaudy Broadway musical, and made about $1 million per week after it officially opened in November 2010 because, in large part, people really wanted to see the actors fall from great heights and severely hurt themselves. That’s a terrible reason to see a show, by the way, and its no wonder reality television is doing so damn well in this country when all we want is to watch other people fail miserably, to reinforce that we are not complete losers that those (highly-paid, hand-picked) jackasses on television.

A New York Times article says that several investors, who routinely invest money on Broadway musicals the way one would invest in stocks (and I guess they’re proving to be just as volatile, because no one can be arsed with NewYorkLand anymore), have not been paid back anything on their investments. One even said that the budget was “a disaster – just a disaster.” That sort of makes me think that maybe you shouldn’t invest money in such a thing, or pull your investment out. I guess the terrible management of most businesses has allowed people to think that they can throw money into anything involving prevalent-enough advertising and expect some return.

Will “Spider-Man” prove the bursting of the Broadway bubble? Gawd I hope so.

“I think the investors will eventually see something, but look, this is showbiz,” Michael Cohl, one of the show’s lead producers, said in the article.

“This is showbiz”? Meaning, maybe we should focus on making good art instead of throwing money at CGI explosions with no plotline? Oh wait, no sorry, there’s no money in art – because idiot investors keep throwing it at things that will make them more money, rather than using those dollars to sustainably create jobs or businesses. GOOD JOB EVERYONE.

Just turn off the Derp already.

spiderp

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The best website ever.

Posted in creativity, me by L. Nicol Cabe - Nov 17, 2013

The internet has brought me cats, video games, social media, the television of my youth, Neil de Grasse Tyson, and some of the most ridiculous memes that I have ever seen. But today, through the infamous Tumblr #WhatShouldWeCallPlaywrights, I discovered 500Letters.org. Once we have all used it to generate our artist statements, I think the internet is officially done and we can turn it off and all go home.

This is my statement, by the way. It isn’t an accurate portrayal of my work as a writer, director, dramaturg, or even actor, but I kind of want it to be.

“L. Nicol Cabe (°1983, Atlanta, GA, United States) creates performances and media art. By applying a poetic and often metaphorical language, Cabe wants to amplify the astonishment of the spectator by creating compositions or settings that generate tranquil poetic images that leave traces and balances on the edge of recognition and alienation.

Her performances demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century. It challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves. By demonstrating the omnipresent lingering of a ‘corporate world’, her works references post-colonial theory as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system.

Her works are notable for their perfect finish and tactile nature. This is of great importance and bears witness to great craftsmanship. By focusing on techniques and materials, she considers making art a craft which is executed using clear formal rules and which should always refer to social reality.

Her works appear as dreamlike images in which fiction and reality meet, well-known tropes merge, meanings shift, past and present fuse. Time and memory always play a key role. L. Nicol Cabe currently lives and works in Seattle, WA.”

Not too shabby.

Not too shabby.

It’s like the artist statement equivalent of that Facebook status creator bot that’s been popular lately. But also kind of useful.

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This past week, I was in virtual attendance at three of the six sessions at the National Innovation Summit for Arts + Culture. A lot happened at the actual, physical gathering I’m sure, but those of us who attended the summit through the powers of the internet had quite a lively time, as well. I made several new Twitter friends! Connecting to fellow artists and artsy types all over the country (or world, perhaps?) is always exciting to me.

The talks were, in general, good – some of them were more inspiring than others. Although I tweeted my approval of a few statements, I generally reserved my tweets for criticism or discussion of topics. I still have unanswered questions based on criticism of speakers. If anyone wants to take a  crack and commenting on these, please do.

Howard Sherman ‏@HESherman 21 Oct
Do organizations have a responsibility to create “gateway experiences”? #ArtsFwd

L. Nicol Cabe ‏@nicolthegreat 21 Oct
@HESherman @ArtsFwd Shouldn’t the arts be its own “gateway experience”? When did we get so intellectual that we have to train audiences?

Howard Sherman ‏@HESherman 21 Oct
.@nicolthegreat #ArtsFwd Discussion today affirms my own observations that arts orgs are off-putting to many. How do we remove barriers?

Good Luck Macbeth ‏@GoodLuckMacbeth 21 Oct
@HESherman @nicolthegreat Before that, how do the barriers get there to begin with. Treating symptoms vs. treating the root.

***

Denver-based theatre theatreOFFcenter gave a talk about some things they’d tried to get more people in their doors. They wanted to get more audience involvement in their theatre, which meant figuring out what audiences liked. They staged a few sports-style events, for example, because Denver is full of sports fans – and in those, they divided the participants into two teams, and the group were “participants,” not passive audience members. Although I think Wii sports or other ways of luring audiences in for participatory projects was an interesting idea, I had my reservations with where their specific ideas were going.

L. Nicol Cabe ‏@nicolthegreat 21 Oct
Don’t see how rebranding plays with sports teams makes better theatre. However, I’m interested in team mentality. #ArtsFwd @denverOFFcenter

Off-Center ‏@denverOFFcenter 21 Oct
@nicolthegreat We would never claim to be making theatre better – just opening our doors wider. #ArtsFwd

L. Nicol Cabe ‏@nicolthegreat 21 Oct
@denverOFFcenter Guess I am unclear on how your audience involvement translates to more involvement in theatre itself. Elaborate? #ArtsFwd

Off-Center ‏@denverOFFcenter 21 Oct
@nicolthegreat It’s translating to more involvement at @DenverCenter by bringing in new people who play an active role in the show itself.

I suggested that they perhaps try writing actual scripts with their audience – which maybe actors could perform, 24 Hour Plays festival style? DenverOFFcenter seemed to like that idea. HEY, I’M FOR HIRE, GUYS!

***

Richard Demato ‏@rdemato 21 Oct
“At Mixed Blood, mission, not plays, is the product, and programming is the delivery system of mission.” @JackReuler @mixed_blood #ArtsFWd

L. Nicol Cabe ‏@nicolthegreat 21 Oct
@rdemato @ArtsFwd @JackReuler @mixed_blood This should be true of all theatres – if not, yer doin’ it wrong.

Richard Demato ‏@rdemato 21 Oct
+ ALL orgs “@nicolthegreat: @ArtsFwd @JackReuler @mixed_blood This should be true of all theatres – if not, yer doin’ it wrong.” #ArtsFwd

Touche, Richard Demato. All organizations’ missions, indeed.

***

Mary W. Rowe gave a talk about the Municipal Arts Society and some of their approaches, and at one point talked about art-makers in New Orleans just after Katrina, who, for example, put up signs saying “We’re still here!” or put surviving lawn furniture out to make a neighborhood cafe for those stuck in the post-apocalyptic sludge. I don’t think these examples are really appropriate, because the national response to Katrina was such a clusterfuck, that the survivors HAD to take over some of this.

L. Nicol Cabe ‏@nicolthegreat 21 Oct: @CheskaMcKenzie @ArtsFwd @MASNYC @rowemw Also to applauding those who do a little to make those spaces nicer. Overlooks govt role in help.

Not that the government should always be responsible for public art, I’m just saying that a time of such horrific crisis is maybe not the best example for applauding community engagement.

She also used an example, I think from the UK, of a group that brought low-income neighborhood kids in and involved them in art projects. Good for them, keeping kids off the streets. But Rowe seems to have a misunderstanding of “the power of art.”

L. Nicol Cabe ‏@nicolthegreat 21 Oct
“These kids never had an experience of culture” is a little elitist. Whose culture? @rowemw #ArtsFwd

I mean, low income neighborhoods have culture. It’s just not middle class culture. It’s more along the lines of pop culture. But it’s still culture. It’s insulting to say that low-income neighborhoods are uncultured simply because they do not participate in the dominant culture. Why should they?

I tweeted later in response to discussion about minorities and the arts:

L. Nicol Cabe ‏@nicolthegreat22 Oct
@artstuffmatters @ArtsFwd It’s not “the arts” if it doesn’t represent diverse community voices. Should instead be called “some arts.”

And I ran across this great comment, which I promptly retweeted:

terryscott ‏@terryscott22 Oct
@ArtsFwd diversity in the arts is a code word for power. who has the jobs who makes the curatorial decisions who decides what is culture

This shouldn’t be true, bee-tee-dubs.

***

The 21st saw a lot of discussion about arts organizations’ boards of directors. I have personal reservations about the nonprofit model and how boards of directors work, or don’t, but much of the discussion focused on how boards fit with community representatives, and how everyone could get along. So I tweeted this:

21 Oct: @ArtsFwd But weren’t boards originally supposed to represent the community? They don’t anymore. Should arts orgs still use them?

Lots of favorites, no real responses. Oh well.

***

One speaker, Joel Tan, talked a lot about new roles his organization had created, so that they could re-envision their place in the community. One title, that got a lot of positive response, was the idea of a “Director of Joy.” As an avowed skeptic of all things woo-sounding, I asked:

How is a “Director of Joy” different from an Artistic Director? #ArtsFwd

I got this:

Madge ‏@legendsonly 22 Oct
@nicolthegreat Depends on how good the Artistic Director is . . .

GP ‏@gpmcleer 22 Oct
@nicolthegreat everyone should be a “director of joy” in their own area. Board members to ushers. #artsfwd

Fair enough.

***

Another speaker discussed bringing the arts into the corporate world. Arts organizations are often told – by misguided and unhelpful board members – that they need to be more like for-profit businesses (in which case, arts orgs should be for-profits, because those operate differently from nonprofits, but I digress). So this speaker talked about how her group sought, with some corporate outreach, to make businesses more like artists.

Now, the corporate world is absolutely desperate for creative thinkers, and I suspect this is in large part the fault of business-minded people between 1960 and 1990 who sought to eliminate the arts from school curricula, because its a waste of funding and we should focus on math and science instead. Guess what kind of world you created, jerks! A flat, uncreative one. Well done.

Anyhoo, I tweeted this:

The corporate world is desperate for creativity training. How does this help artists be artists? #ArtsFwd

I basically saw the outreach as a way of making money, and not so much about improving the world for artists. Again, I got favorited and retweeted, but not much commentary.

***

There was lots of talk about risk and money, of course. As one speaker put it, “You’re all a little fucked up about money.” Well said!

Kelvin D. ‏@kbd217 22 Oct
A culture in which bold behavior is recognized AND HONORED. (Protect your assets…which can also be risk). #ArtsFwd

L. Nicol Cabe ‏@nicolthegreat 22 Oct
Requires seeing something besides money and monetizable objects as “assets” – that’s a real risk!

Cuz you know, artists are a resource. Isn’t that ultimately the point?

***

You can read about the Summit here. http://artsfwd.org/summit/

You can see the list of sessions here. http://artsfwd.org/summit/type/sessions/

The videos are archived somewhere, I’m just not sure where.

 

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Furlough YOLO

Posted in humanity by L. Nicol Cabe - Oct 11, 2013

Personal disclosure: I am one of those curmudgeonly old people who hates the term YOLO, unless you use it in this context:

UNTIL NOW.

That’s right, I discovered another context in which I find “YOLO” acceptable, and it is the Twitter trend of #FurloughYOLO.

furloughyolo

You can read more about that here.

Speaking of “YOLO,” Utah’s national parks have decided to Carpe Diem and reopen, for about 10 days, on their own funds.

“Utah agrees to pay the National Park Service (NPS) up to $1.67 million— $166,572 per day—to re-open eight national sites in Utah for up to 10 days. If the federal government shutdown ends before then, the State will receive a refund of unused monies” an official press statement explained.

The deal would reopen Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion national parks. The other three locations that will be opened are Natural Bridges and Cedar Breaks national monuments, as well as Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

“Utah’s national parks are the backbone of many rural economies and hard-working Utahns are paying a heavy price for this shutdown,” Herbert said in the released statement. “I commend Secretary Jewell for being open to Utah’s solution, and the world should know Utah is open for business and visitors are welcome.”

More on that here.

NPR has a couple of interesting, if sad, articles about how the government shutdown is effecting various government and non-government agencies. First, due to federal support, massively-important research (and the lab mice associated with it) through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is beginning to feel the strain. Lab mice used in cancer and Alzheimer’s research will have to be killed to save money and avoid overcrowding. As a science nerd, and someone who cares about the future of medical science, I find this distressing. Years’ worth of experiments will be shut down or halted, and the expense of reviving many of these experiments will put a strain on the NIH’s budget later.

Another article focused on the shutdown’s national effect, with this nice snippet about the arts:

The Arts Go Dark
Tourists in Washington know that productions at the historic Ford’s Theater have been suspended because of the shutdown, but innovative productions in other parts of the country have been scuttled, too. That includes the We Players performance of Macbeth planned for staging at San Francisco’s Fort Point, a Civil War-era fortress under the Golden Gate Bridge. We Players, says artistic director Ava Roy, has worked since 2008 with the National Park Service, staging Hamlet on Alcatraz Island, and The Odyssey and Twelfth Night on historic ships. “We had to cancel numerous shows, which affects over 1,000 ticket holders and could easily mean financial collapse for our small, nonprofit arts organization,” Roy tells us.

So grab beers and watch Netflix while you still can, because your ability to survive cancer or diabetes is on the line, and just about any non-profit activity will disappear if the shutdown lasts much longer. YOLO.

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628x471

Today, the GOP proposed a temporary debt ceiling increase. Their proposal, which extends the debt ceiling for 6 weeks to begin negotiations about the federal budget, comes with some serious restrictions – namely, the proposal would ban the Treasury Department from using extraordinary measures to avoid default. So that’s kind of extreme. Democrats, and the president, have not indicated yet whether they will agree to this plea deal or not.

Meanwhile, it looks like arts charities are hitting their own budget crises. One charity in San Francisco holds a yearly sand castle building event to raise money for their programs. Last year, Leap received $250,000 in donations for the event, which made up about half of their yearly budget. But with national park closures, they are unable to use their regular spot, Ocean Beach, because they can’t get permits.

Per the article in SFGate:

“We are in purgatory right now,” said Julie MacDonald, executive director of Leap, the San Francisco nonprofit that uses the contest as a fundraiser to support its art education programs in Bay Area schools. “We have every intention of holding the event, but we’re powerless to reschedule until the government is fully operational.”

“With no appropriated funds for the year, we’re not allowed to incur costs on behalf of the government,” said Alexandra Picavet of the federal agency based at Fort Mason. “This is a terrific event on so many counts, but we don’t have the authority to allow permitted events that require (park ranger) staffing.”

“Each program we create is customized to serve the needs of each school,” MacDonald said. “Schools don’t have the resources to hire their own artists and plan the programs.”

“These sessions always add so much” to the education of young children, many of them families of immigrants, said Chin’s principal, Allen Lee. “They get to utilize their creativity, learn skills, but also learn to work with each other.”

For the moment, Leap is working under the assumption that they will be able to move the date of the fundraiser as soon as the shutdown ends. However, if it lasts much longer, good enough weather could pass and then a very interesting school arts program will suffer tremendously.

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A Couple of Articles on Artistry’s Alleged Collapse

Posted in Uncategorized by L. Nicol Cabe - Oct 08, 2013

I’ve found, throughout my professional career in theatre, that there’s consistent hysteria about the collapse and theatre and the arts. Venues are more expensive, no one goes to see plays anymore, etc.

The latest survey from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) shows that there’s been a drop in attendance at arts venues.

According to a survey on public participation scheduled to be released on Thursday by the National Endowment for the Arts, one out of every three Americans, or about 78 million people, visited an art exhibition or attended a performing arts event in 2012. That figure represents a drop across the board since the last survey in 2008, but the slide was steepest for musicals and plays. For musicals, the 9 percent drop in the attendance rate between 2008 and 2012 was the first statistically significant change in that category in more than 25 years. Straight plays fared even worse, with a 12 percent drop over the same period, a figure that has contributed to a whopping 33 percent rate of decline over the past decade.

Glen-Close-Jaw_drop
Fortunately, the New York Times article does not betray too much hysteria about the possible reasons for this alleged decline.

Art museums and galleries are also having trouble competing with other attractions. Ten years ago more than one in four Americans passed through their doors; now the figure is closer to one in five. Researchers for the agency’s latest Survey of Public Participation in the Arts said they could not offer reasons for the results; they may be attributed to significant shifts in behavior or, perhaps, simply to the scope of activities that were counted.

Robert Lynch, president of Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit organization in Washington, said that shifting rates reflected, in part, an expanded definition of the arts and a wider variety of ways to participate. Ethnic music was once ignored, he said. “There is a lot more that is happening now,” Mr. Lynch said.

So really, in surveying a “drop in attendance,” there’s good news – there’s a lot of creativity happening, there’s a lot of art and arts events, including theatre, and competition is good.

Also, people are still interested in art, they just choose to engage with arts events differently.

Randy Cohen, vice president for research and policy at Americans for the Arts, said people “are not walking away from the arts so much, but walking away from the traditional delivery mechanisms.” He noted, for example, that while financial troubles forced the Washington National Opera to merge with the Kennedy Center in 2011, an opera simulcast at the Nationals Park, the capital’s baseball stadium, drew about 20,000 people.

“A lot of what we’re seeing is people engaging in the arts differently,” he said.

I asked some Seattle theatre friends, who currently or have in the past run theatres, to get an idea about theatre attendance in Seattle. “It depends on the show. Tonight we are sold out. But last week we had two people in an audience. It’s maddening,” said one. “It’s very up-and-down. We did a run of shows that happened to have very clear hooks, marketing-wise, and they had great houses. Then we did a show that was much harder to describe and didn’t have a clear audience; even though it got great reviews, and plenty of them, it played to very modest houses. It’s easy to see how easy it is to let marketing drive your programming choices…” replied another.

Others, however, were more optimistic about overall attendance numbers. From a member of Annex Theatre: “[A]ttendance varies from show to show and marketing is a key factor. But if we’re talking about the time period in this article (2008-2012) Annex’s overall attendance has seen a significant increase and is trending steadily upward.”

With the help of Theatre Resource Group (TRG), Seattle Repertory Theatre has increased their audience attendance and, more importantly, audience return. “As TRG says about patron loyalty, you need to date before you get married,” says Katie Jackman, who had just been hired and now is SRT’s Director of External Relations. “We ‘dated’ these people for a while—just focusing on getting them back in the building.”

“We had declining sales in all categories. At the same time, there weren’t specific strategies around what to do, especially when patrons came in for the first time,” Jackson said. But, thanks to TRG’s strategy, 30% of the cultivated group returned in the following season, and retention continued over the next 4 years. You can see more about the theatre’s retention rates on TRG’s website.

According to Seattle’s government website, the arts are a huge industry in the city, and the local government strongly supports its artists. Here’s some stats:

  • Create jobs. The nonprofit arts and culture industry in Seattle supports 10,807 full-time equivalent jobs.
  • Deliver a strong return on investment, generating $38.2 million in local and state government revenues.
  • Draw vital tourism into the region. Recently, readers of Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler, two of the world’s foremost travel magazines, voted Seattle one of their top ten favorite cities to visit. What makes Seattle so appealing? According to Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, it’s because of the “unlimited opportunities to experience art, heritage and culture, all in a setting of rare natural beauty.”
  • Provide highly valued services for local residents. Nonprofit arts organizations in Seattle with a primary mission in the arts show per capita revenues over 3 times the national average.
  • Leverage additional event related spending by their audiences who contribute vital revenue into restaurants, hotels, retail, parking and other local businesses. The Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study shows that in Seattle, the typical attendee spends $29.79 per person, per event, to support local businesses in addition to the cost of admission.
  • Attract new business. International studies show that the communities offering an abundance of arts and culture opportunities are the most sought after for global businesses, new start-ups and the brightest professionals.

Another article, this time an op-ed from The Guardian, describes changes in  New York City, specifically, which involve artists – and indeed, most of the middle class – being pushed out of the city by the extremely wealthy.

The city is a body and a mind – a physical structure as well as a repository of ideas and information. Knowledge and creativity are resources. If the physical (and financial) parts are functional, then the flow of ideas, creativity and information are facilitated. The city is a fountain that never stops: it generates its energy from the human interactions that take place in it. Unfortunately, we’re getting to a point where many of New York’s citizens have been excluded from this equation for too long. The physical part of our city – the body – has been improved immeasurably. I’m a huge supporter of the bike lanes and the bikeshare program, the new public plazas, the waterfront parks and the functional public transportation system. But the cultural part of the city – the mind – has been usurped by the top 1%.

What, then, is the future of New York, or really of any number of big urban centers, in this new Gilded Age? Does culture have a role to play? If we look at the city as it is now, then we would have to say that it looks a lot like the divided city that presumptive mayor Bill de Blasio has been harping about: most of Manhattan and many parts of Brooklyn are virtual walled communities, pleasure domes for the rich (which, full disclosure, includes me), and aside from those of us who managed years ago to find our niche and some means of income, there is no room for fresh creative types. Middle-class people can barely afford to live here anymore, so forget about emerging artists, musicians, actors, dancers, writers, journalists and small business people. Bit by bit, the resources that keep the city vibrant are being eliminated.

This article, courtesy of David Byrne, has been making the rounds around Facebook in the last week or so. While the article itself isn’t particularly hysterical – just a plea to prevent change, when change is something that happens naturally all the time – those posting it treat it with some hysteria. The cultural capital of the country is dying! Save it! Save our heritage!

I think I’m the only theatre artist in the world that doesn’t care if NYC changes into a rich kids’ playground. There’s a massive amount of great art and culture in NYC, it’s true, and to see that go away would be sad. But there’s a thing that happens, and you can probably see it in your city on a neighborhood-sized scale: artists move into a run-down area because rent is cheap (Greenwich Village in NYC, Capital Hill in Seattle) and that area gets trendy, so more and more people move into the now “vibrant” area, which ups the rent, then businesses move in to take advantage of the population, then the artists eventually get forced out because they can’t afford to be there anymore. Repeat cycle.

Ride the rides at New York Land!

Ride the rides at New York Land!

This is essentially what has happened to NYC on a large scale. It is not the center of artistic innovation for the country anymore – theatre development often begins far away from New York, with staged readings and small productions to “iron out kinks” in shows that then, after several years, get sent to Broadway, then franchised out again in touring shows and regional theatre productions. How many shows get developed in NYC for Broadway or even Off Broadway? Not that many.

As you can see from some of the information above, Seattle is becoming a hub for art. Chicago and Los Angeles have both had huge influences on theatre across the country, creating and developing new work that ends up on Broadway, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not.

Besides, David Byrne is only the latest in a group of people who decry the decline of NYC. David Mamet got to it about three years ago, with much more inflammatory language: “No adult Londoner would go to see the crown jewels, and no adult New Yorker went to see Mamma Mia! for to do so would have been considered culturally repugnant, branding him as a tourist or dufus. New York, with the rise in real-estate prices and the disappearance of manufacture, business, and thus, of the middle class, has become New York Land.”

Support for artists is very important, from a government and economic level, but hysteria about how much the arts are failing is uncalled for. We interact with art and culture differently, there’s more variety, and the centers of cultural development are always shifting. These are all good, healthy things for creative types.

GIR_DOOM_1280x1025_Background_by_Chaossity

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Obama Calls for an End to the Shutdown

Posted in humanity by L. Nicol Cabe -

Today, Obama  called for Boehner to end the government shutdown so Congress could finish discussions about the debt ceiling and the budget. While there’s been no response from the Tea Party, this could signal the beginning of the end of the government shutdown.

Unfortunately, it is not actually the end. Fortunately, several organizations – from restaurants to museums – that have remained open during the shutdown are offering specials for furloughed government employees.

Here’s just a few from the article on the DCist:

  • The National Museum of Women in the Arts ”will offer free admission to any furloughed federal employees. The employees just need to show their federal government IDs at the admission desk. This will include our two special exhibitions American People, Black Light: Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960s and Awake in the Dream World: The Art of Audrey Niffenegger.”
  • National Geographic Museum ”will be open and offering free admission tomorrow. In addition to free admission to the museum, guests are also invited to ‘Tuesdays at Noon,’ a free series of programming offered every Tuesday by National Geographic Live. Tomorrow they will be showing The Incredible Dr. Pol. The NG Farmer’s Market will also be open tomorrow.”
  • West End Cinema: “We are offering half-price popcorn and sodas for federal employees (with a valid ID) during the #governmentshutdown.”
  • AFI Silver: “We are offering free popcorn to our moviegoers who are on furlough from their government jobs. Just be sure to have a valid government ID!”
  • The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra ”is offering all furloughed federal workers two complimentary tickets to our Saturday, October 5 performance featuring Carlos Rodriguez, pianist. The performance will be held at 8:00pm in the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center, located at 3001 North Beauregard Street in Alexandria, VA. Free parking is provided. Additional tickets are available for $5 (18 and under), $10 (students with ID), and start at $20 for adults. To redeem, please present a valid ID at the Box Office on the night of the concert. Prior purchases excluded. Subject to availability. For more information, call 703-548-0885.”
  • Theater J: ”We’re offering buy one, get one free tickets to Wednesday and Thursday evening performances of After the Revolution for federal government employees! Tickets are available in-person, with valid government ID, beginning one hour before curtain.”
  • Washington Performing Arts Society ”is offering $10 tickets to Federal employees for the Kennedy Center performance on Sunday, October 6 at 5 p.m. by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.

 

While it’s not a good time to be furloughed, at least there’s arts events out there to take your mind off some things.

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130919110234-government-shutdown-620xaAs we go into week 2 of the government shutdown, the most immediate damage that could have been done has been done, especially in the arts sector. As I’m on the West Coast, there’s very little happening on my end. Seattle is surrounded by national parks, which of course are all closed, but since I’m not a weekend hiker, I’m not terribly effected by the closures. The worst that might happen is delays renewing my passport, which I haven’t started yet anyway.

I asked a couple of DC-area theatre acquaintances about how the shutdown was effecting them, and their responses were, other than the closing of Ford’s theatre and some concerns about day jobs, their lives hadn’t really changed.

In the larger arts sector, a massive art project called the 70 X 7 The Meal, “a major event where more than 900 people would eat together at one long communal table stretching two blocks, with Independence Mall as the backdrop,” had to be canceled due to national park shutdowns. More here.

Additionally, due to the closure of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, four ArtPrize 2013 winners (out of 10) had to have their entries moved outdoors for viewing.

“The Ford Museum is funded by the federal budget, and therefore affected by the current negotiations taking place in Washington, D.C., over a resolution to continue federal funding,” said Christian Gaines, executive director of ArtPrize. “Absent an agreement, the Ford Museum, like other federal buildings across the United States, has been forced to close until those negotiations are resolved.”

“The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is proud to host four of ArtPrize 2013’s Top 10 artists, however, the closing will not affect the public’s ability to view any of these installations,” said Todd Herring, communications director for ArtPrize.

More from the article here.

 

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Day Three of National Hissyfit

Posted in humanity, large theatre by L. Nicol Cabe - Oct 03, 2013

I’m covering news stories related to how the arts and entertainment are being affected by the American government shutdown, and I’m glad to say that, into day 3, there’s finally some good news.

First, the Kennedy Center will remain open during the government shutdown. While they are curtailing some of their hours, no employees will be furloughed. They also have a detailed plan for government shutdown, and it says this:

“In the event of a Government shutdown, the Kennedy Center will continue its non-appropriated functions and honor all non-appropriated fund contracts, including planned performances, educational activities, public trust functions (such as the Kennedy Center Box Office, Retail and Parking Operations), and employment activities for its approximately 1,150 trust employees. This is consistent with the Center’s activities during the 1995-1996 Government shutdowns, during which the Kennedy Center remained open and performances were maintained as scheduled.”

You can check their website for details about how the shutdown affects their hours of operation.

Now, as you may recall, the government shutdown was originally a threat from extremists in the GOP to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That didn’t happen, because the Democrats finally decided to stand up for something. Obamacare went into effect on October 1st, and the federal government closed.

My homestate of South Carolina is a very, very conservative, red state, and legislators have opposed the Affordable Care Act at every step of the way. They are one of 29, I think, states that opted out of implementing Obamacare. However, one tiny piece of good news has come out of the state due to the hissyfit shutdown: the South Carolina Zoo (which is pretty awesome, I have to say) is offering free admission to federal employees for a few days. I mean, if you’re going to be broke and alone with your kids, the least you can do is go out and have a good time. I’m so excited.

Even more exciting, the Walt Disney Company is offering full-time employment to 427 part-time employees of Disney World in Florida, who under the ACA qualify for medical coverage. One of the ACA requirements is for businesses to offer health care to employees who work a certain number of hours, regardless of whether they are considered full or part time. While this action looks like it will cause some problems with union labor at the park, the entertainment megacorporation has made a much better decision than lots of other large companies, which are instead firing employees so they don’t have to spend more money on labor that was supposed to be close to free. Because, it turns out, businesses don’t give a shit if you live or die, as long as they make money.

I mentioned yesterday that Ted Cruz told the world, just prior to the shutdown, that he still planned on drawing his comfortable salary while the government shutdown happened, effectively making the budget deficit much worse. Many legislators are either refusing their salaries during the shutdown, or have vowed to donate all of that money to charity (a noble motion, indeed, but actually good for their pocketbooks come tax time). Democratic representative Rick Nolan of Minnesota introduced a bill on October 1st to block members of Congress from getting paid during the shutdown – so taxpayers don’t have to fund a temper tantrum.

From the Huffington Post:

“The inability of this Congress to collaborate, compromise, and get things done has led me to introduce legislation to prohibit Members from being paid when failure to do their job results in a government shutdown,” Nolan said in a Tuesday statement. “It’s time for Congress to start living in the real world – where you either do your job, or you don’t get paid.”

The move could potentially violate the 27th amendment, but there’s so many laws and amendments potentially being violated in this entire thing that I’m having a hard time keeping up.

What I’d like to see is emergency elections called in all the states that are currently not being represented because their federal legislators decided to go on strike. If they don’t want other workers to strike, then they don’t get the right to strike either, and we should bring in scabs. Just saying.

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