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July 10, 2008

Comments

Rex Winsome

In the context of a properly functioning capitalist world, your view is right on.

But that world is crumbling. In regard to theatre it's corrupt and nepotistic. Theatre artists are no longer promoted on the basis of talent. It's more a matter of who you know and how marketable your product is to the easy demographic (faux aristocrats).

Second, it's unsustainable. Faux aristocrats are croaking like frogs.

Third, it's undesireable. The bourgeois mythology of artists is that they are exceptional. Only a few artists are great and these artists have a mystical quality that elevates them above normal people and inflates their products, not only in price, but in social status. The myth is false and designed to get more profit from less labor. The approved artists could be (and often are) chosen arbitrarily, marketed as essential (or classic) and then pumped up to be superstars.

This phenomenon is more obvious in the music and film mediums (cuz music can be exploited further due to mechanical reproduction).

Forth, it's being replaced. Again, in music it's clearer: the big record labels are losing money while indie bands thrive. The landscape is shifting, and the peaks of superstardom aren't acheiveable anymore, but hardworking artists who adopt innovative modes have the ability (proven by their practice) to acheive modest success.

RebeccaZ

Excellent post. Thank you!

RVCBard

I don't know if it's a lack of exposure or something, but I notice that theater communities try to function like charities or corporations when their environment is more conducive to entrepreneurship or freelancing.

It seems like artists want to be employees, but the current climate shows that free agency is the most viable option. But it requires re-envisioning who makes theater, where it happens, what it does for the audience, etc. A lot of theater artists and administrators create needless limitations, set up nonsensical obstacles, and don't even know they're doing it.

And we're supposed to be creative.

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Rex Winsome

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Jan von Krieg

Your analogy is spot-on, art is a game where the vast majority are set up to lose. Worse than gambling, where you know how much you stand to lose the moment you enter, for artists, you lose your career.

The value in art is captured; although the artist is led to believe that the Art and the Artist are central to the industry, this is more or less a complete myth. In practice, the art support roles: theoreticians, lecturers, gallerists, critics, and other middlemen construct an elaborate pyramid of value extraction.

For this to work, a hollywood-like fairy tale of great and enlightening successes and riches is promoted; this encourages a ready supply of new victims. As we know from supply and demand, when the demand is low and the supply high, the earnings are substandard.

Which of course also means that as long as we can think like a franchise salesman, we can make money. Unfortunately, it means we defraud all the artists who bought into the myth, mostly of the decade or so that it takes them to realise they've been tricked.

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