L. Nicol Cabe

Stage Director, Dramaturge, Acting Coach, Theatre Teacher, and general Artist

News of the Paranoid

Some paranoid news has popped up recently. Let’s start with the latest on “Spider-man: Turn off the Dark”:
Julie Taymor Claims there was a secret plot to fire her from “Spider-man”
So, Julie Taymor, in her law suit for copyright infringement, has claimed that there was a plot behind the scenes of the near-deadly musical to kick her out of her position as director and, therefore, not pay her for her work on the show.

I think the producers’ rebuttal sums this up much better than I ever could:

Producers shot back late Friday. “It’s very disheartening for the former director of the show to take no responsibility for the consequences of her actions while, at the same time, trying to claim credit for the show’s success,” Dale Cendali, an attorney for the producers, said in a statement.

And, from NPR, can Kickstarter fund the arts better than the NEA?

One of Kickstarter’s founders bragged that he expected the three-year-old site to give more money to the arts this year than the National Endowment for the Arts.

Kickstarter gave about $67 million to core arts in 2011; the NEA’s budget is $146 million dollars for 2012, of which $118 million will be distributed as direct funding.

Nevertheless, Kickstarter and other crowd-funding platforms are clearly on the rise, while government support for the arts is buffeted by funding crises and politics. Kickstarter opens an avenue for creators who don’t have the resumes and grant-writing skills to get government funding in the first place.

But Johnson says that comparing Kickstarter to the NEA is like “comparing apples to spaceships.” The site treats funders like investors, generally promising products and incentives for contributions. “In some ways Kickstarter is a lot more like shopping than supporting art,” Johnson says. “The NEA is not necessarily worried about giving the taxpayer back art directly for their investments.”

Johnson worries that Kickstarter’s success will encourage calls to abolish government funding of artists.

I don’t think anything along these lines will abolish government funding for artists, but it does give artists a valuable venue to interact with their fans. I think Kickstarter is hugely valuable as one of the many yardsticks to demonstrate value to the community, in fact, which is one of the points grant organizations, private and public, look for. Without a history of merit (which is very difficult to attain), grants are almost never awarded. So Kickstarter is sort of like an entry level job, or the first grant for artists.

Also, Kickstarter allows artists, with it’s rewards system (which I personally don’t see as much different than donor benefits for large art institutions) helps artists interact directly with their fans, give a personal thank you, something like that. The immense popularity of Kickstarter is based, I think, on this personal interaction. It’s a social network in which money changes hands for a good cause.

It’s an interesting yardstick to see what people actually think is important. They don’t want distant artists, they want their art up close and personal.

But, you know, not falling from the ceiling onto their heads, Ms. Taymor …

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