The Playgoer: Culture Project in Trouble

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Culture Project in Trouble

Culturebot reports a rumor that things are in meltdown over at 45Bleecker, home of Allan Buchman's Culture Project theatre. Just a rumor, he's stressing, but an all too credible one.

Rumor has it that the The Culture Project's IMPACT Festival was a financial disaster and that, after too long living off of the revenues from The Exonerated and Bridge and Tunnel that the financials have reached critical mass and the place is shutting down. Culturebot hears that the artistic director is selling off -or at least vacating - both spaces as of early december, leaving many artists, projects and producers in the lurch. Employees are either being asked to leave or jumping ship as soon as possible. And while it has been said that Culture Project will stay operational by keeping an office and possibly find a smaller space with less overhead, the impression we get from our sources is that it is unlikely to survive.
I pass this on not out of gossip-mongering glee, but real concern. And to join Culturebot in alerting us to the imminent crisis of adventurous nonprofits paying their rent, even when backed by wealthy individuals like Buchman.

Buchman seems a passionate man, but perhaps an amateur when it comes to running a theatre. If there were only a smart Managing Director out there who could make the operation run without compromising the mission... Or does it just come down to real estate in the end?

4 comments:

Moxie said...

Oh man, it would be really sad to see Culture Project fold. I think they were staking their bets really high on Eve Ensler's The Treatment, which was just an unfortunate, big stinker of a play. I hope they can get it together!

Anonymous said...

Update 21 Nov: NYT's Campbell Robertson says they're moving into the Manhattan Ensemble space at 55 Mercer.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/21/theater/21proj.html

phlcsr@aol.com said...

I'm not surprised at all. The problem with TCP IS Alan Buchman. There is no mission - it is whatever strikes Alan's fanvy next. Try raising money with that. I know I treid. I made quite some headway while there, in spite of him, but he seems to have an outrageously arrogant sense of entitlement, i.e. he exists therefore he is entitled to money. I can't tell you how many organizations there were where I had an in that all would ask me to please define clearly what TCP did and what was their "Season". Alan's reply was always, "Tell them to give me oney and I'll give them a season". He admits he's making it up as he goes along and that isno way to try to run a non-profit. Sorry Alan, your arrogance is now getting the better of you and a very credible idea will die because of it.

The Playgoer said...

Dear "phlcsr",

Thanks for weighing in with your firsthand experience. Indeed, sounds vexing and Buchman does seem a bit...unrealistic, to say the least.

However--since I'm not a professional fundraiser, I hope you'll indulge me in feeling just a wee bit of sympathy for someone who doesn't care for the rules that dictate just what a "mission" should be and the dance one has to go through for fundraising. It's never nice to be "arrogant", but I can understand Buchman feeling entitled to say his success with Exonerated, Guantanamo, etc speaks for itself. After all--I feel *I* know what Culture Project's mission is well enough, and I'm sure most people who've been there do. Just because he doesn't want to take the time to put it into Mission Statement-ese to explain it to funders who haven't taken time to look at the work doesn't mean he doesn't have a vision.

I agree, such slapdash disregard for the rules could unfortunately be counterproduction and prevent the work from being seen. But, hey, as we saw he succeeded in giving the company a new life, albeit in a smaller space. Perhaps he's learned.