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Rethink who you consider potential partners

30 Mar

Did anyone else get the ArtsJournal digest email yesterday and read this article from The LA Times and this article from The NY Times back-to-back?  Am I the only one that thought the Wooster Group / Baryshnikov alliance is just the opportunity to provide exciting programming that McNulty found lacking in L.A.’s larger institutions? 

What if the rest of us took a cue from this partnership?  What if these larger companies that find they can’t afford to fill their spaces partnered with smaller groups of complementary nature?  Imagine the cutting-edge work of Sacred Fools filling the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles.  Or the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta bringing Synchronicity to be in residence in their performance space?  Or Zoetic Dance Ensemble creating site-specific works within the galleries of The Contemporary?

Artistic leaders are often hesitant to form these types of partnerships with other theatres due to the fear of competition and ultimately loss of audience.  I believe that given two companies that have distinct and specific missions, this need not be the case.  What you get instead is a very diverse group coming through the doors of your institution.  However, if inviting a smaller theatre company into the space is too big a leap, perhaps partnering with other, non-theatre, arts organization is the way to go.  It works both ways, smaller theatre companies without homes of their own should be talking established dance companies, and even galleries, and museums.  Many of these have performance spaces that often go under-utilized.

If the current economy has taught us anything, it has taught us the old status quo will never return.  Let’s work on creating a new one.  One that is sustainable and not only makes individual companies, but the arts community as a whole stronger.

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