Thursday, July 10, 2008

Some quick responses to Don Hall's posting before I head back into tech at Woolly Mammoth. First, there's the subtitle of his post:

"Mike Daisey Starts the Debate Then Excuses Himself from the Table"

Just to be clear, I was asserting that I don't have an obligation to provide policy white papers, not that I'm running off into the hills, dropping all connection to the industry I work and live within. I am stating that artists don't have to write policy papers to do worthwhile work for I guess as long as "the table" in the above is "policy discussions" and not "working and fighting for change within the American theater", which I feel I'm very devoted to, I can get behind it, though it seems slanted.

I'll also have to take issue with this wording:

"...the cats at Theatreforte try to get him to get specific about some sort of agenda aside from the "Theatre Failed to Provide a Living for the Artists" POV Daisey got rustled up."

My "POV" is certainly not expressed this way, especially by me--this is loaded, tilted language that conjures images of hand-outs.

"I suspect that almost every artist on the map will state pretty much the same thing, which is, in essence, "I'm too busy doing some art - let the administrators whose salaries I'm questioning make those decisions."

I don't agree at all that this remotely resembles what I said--I'm saying that I have been working for change and continue to work for change, and I don't need to give you a policy paper to "prove" my art has validity and worth. Second, I'm really clear in HTFA that we're all implicated in this system, so I reject the idea that this is an administrator versus artist fistfight.

"I guess that that may not be the solution Daisey is looking for. You know - because the administrators are already benefiting from the status quo and thus there isn't really any incentive..."

I'm also asking administrators to get involved because I still believe that there are many good men and women within the system, who work hard to make art possible, and I want to win their hearts and minds to effect change. (I talked about this in my last posting.) Others disagree. I already work within the system, and I can see where it is working and how much good could be done, if an artist-driven voice were allowed to enter the that is what I'm working toward.

"those priorities that need to be simply rearranged are being rearranged (or not) by the arts administrators that currently run the system."

This is true; but I think it's a fairly black-and-white read. There are many administrators who only work in the theater because they desperately, hopelessly love it, and they want nothing more than to believe that it is possible for there to be other paths. I know because I talk to them, and I believe they have momentum and position to effect change quickly, if they can be shown a path and helped to believe in it. Others persue different paths to change, and that's great--but that's the direction I've been heading in.

The constant push to "make a living" in the arts is sort of like making a living as a professional gambler and I don't hear anyone supporting an ethical model to provide blackjack players health insurance.

This is just dumb. I don't know where to start--do I start with how art isn't much like gambling? Or how what society gains from art is wildly different than what it gets from gamblers? Or do we talk about how one form of activity (gambling) is on the ascendency, while theater has been shrinking...oh, I give up. It's just a really facile analogy, and I'm not going to parse it.

The only part of this that is true is that being a working artist *feels* like being a professional gambler. Otherwise, it's worthless.

And when it comes to philosophical stances, the idea that everyone is going to leap on board any one particular viewpoint is lunacy.

I don't know where this blogospheric idea comes from, but "everybody" doesn't have to jump onboard any idea—that never happens. But the dominant paradigm does shift, and as it does it adapts and adopts the thinking of those within it, and it's possible to effect change by altering what the default settings are.

Second, the Off-Loop Freedom Charter. Yup, it's going to happen - I, like Daisey, am a practicing artist doing shows. I'm building the cathedral by carving stones, one at a time. The OLFC is an attempt to get a bunch of like-minded theater folk in the same room and start defining a common philosophy that we're all comfortable promoting without having it get in the way of our day-to-day artistic output. And, whether it is a good thing or not, that involves a lot of quibbling.

I hear you, I am familiar with the quibbling, and that sounds like excellent work. Good luck with it.

12:00 PM