The Playgoer: Praticing What We Preach

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Praticing What We Preach

A while ago I mused over the prospect of revolutionizing theatre "development" (i.e. fundraising) along the lines of the Dean/Obama model in politics. In other words, is it time for some brave small theatre companies to shake off the burden of catering to especially wealthy patrons (and subjecting themselves to disproportionate influence) by going the other way and building a campaign around multiple online "small donor" contributions.

Well Mr. Excitement took me up on the challenge and raised me. He brings to our attention an excellent possible test case. The Contemporary American Theatre Festival is a well-established, though little known, West Virginia company devoted to new (not necessarily premieres) plays. Turns out they too are going ahead with a production of "My Name is Rachel Corrie" despite the withdrawal of a major donor and board member. (In other words, rather than buck under the pressure, they called the bluff, as it were--that it turned out not to be a bluff makes the theatre even more admirable in retrospect.)

So Mark suggests, why not show CATF some of us salute their standing by the controversial work they want to produce. Sending them a little donation may not offset the reported $100,000 the donor yanked. But it's a gesture to show that the pro-free speech side matters, too. And that just because one side threatens to cause trouble (such as your board), remember that some other folks may have your back.

You can donate to CATF here. ($10 minimum)

I myself sent a small, small amount so don't be bashful about just the $10. If the company gets a lot of such small-order shout-outs, maybe it can be the first step in a whole new financial model, where one millionaire donor can't end up with all the say.


Anonymous said...

On an unrelated topic, Sherie Rene Scott just won a Lortel moments ago. Alfred somebody just won for best featured actor.

Anonymous said...

Sorry,I meant ARTHUR FRENCH,not Alfred somebody...

Mark said...

Thanks so much for the support Garrett. I've posted an update here with my two original posts on the challenge, so everyone can catch up in one place.

Playgoer said...

Great, Mark!

I should also make clear that I'm sure there are many good reasons to contribute to this particular company. For instance, not only do they do new American plays, but they're located in something other than a major metropolitan area.

So I'm not pressuring people just to support "Rachel Corrie." I personally did earmark my contribution for that production, since the website lets you do that--but that also gives you the opportunity to write in, "New Play development" for instance.

Mark said...

Indeed. While sometimes CATF produces plays that have been seen in New York, just as often they program a play before it sees a production here. (Examples off the top of my head: The Pavilion, 1001.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind words of support. On behalf of the entire 2007 CATF Company I want to personally thank you for supporting our passion and courage for producing MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE. Our 2007 Repertory features four provocative new American plays. I believe that making art and supporting the arts is, especially in this moment, a form of social activism. It is a statement of belief in the power of community.
I am awestruck by the power of the American voices writing for the theater. I assure you that their voices are loud, strong and vibrant. And I am listening.