The Play’s The Thing

I think Shakespeare used that in Hamlet because grant money wasn’t invented yet.  He knew that he needed to have asses in seats for his plays to keep him in fresh ruffled collars and put some black pudding on the table.

I mention this because I see in my local news that an area theater group that has had grant money handed to it by the wheelbarrow full is now in danger of shutting it’s doors.  Scanning the article pretty much tells me the story – various executives, directors, and social dilettantes over the last several years have resulted in commingled funds, people not being paid, board member disputes – you get the idea.

I have never been to this particular theater – the building looks like a firetrap and the stuff there is a little too avant-garde for my blue collar tastes.  By that I mean I usually only take in the things that don’t require a graduate degree to understand the “contexts” that are being “referenced”.  If I look at the ad for a show and it features a man in drag playing a tuba and someone else dressed like a llama, I’m pretty much lost right from the get-go.

I attend a lot of “artsy” events throughout the year, however, and contrary to what a lot of people who are crying about how the arts aren’t supported anymore would have you believe, there are people who can make a go of it.  I see a lot of talented people who do creative, original things and actual real people like me even hand them over some hard-earned cash from time to time.  It happens.

And I’m in favor of seed money to help get things off the ground that otherwise wouldn’t have a chance.  But at some point your art should be connecting with more than the grant committee so that it becomes at least somewhat self-sustaining.  If I’m playing to an empty house night after night, and completely a ward of the local non-profit-started-by-a-dead-businessman foundation yearly grant, I’d start to wonder about my artistic direction.

That being said, I hope these folks make it.  If they don’t they might have to become Social Media Experts or something like that, and we’ve already got plenty of those.


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