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January 30, 2009



Being small and poor isn't noble, but it does have some practical value, to play devil's advocate.

The right things about being small without a lot of resources:
because money is tight, the financial obligations to which one commits oneself are usually small. One way to survive a recession is to be so tiny that you have no overhead when you're not producing- as long as the members stay committed the organization can exist indefinitely. For example, heaven help the itinerant company that chooses *now* to sign a lease on a space of its own for the first time (Rogue Theatre Company, anyone?), unless they're lucky and skilled indeed. Our first season we leased office space, and it almost devoured us financially by the start of season two. Sometimes premature growth is the death of a small nonprofit.

What could the $50,000 budget company done with a $500,000 budget? They could have overextended themselves and gone out of business. Or started overproducing shows and lost the edginess that made them interesting in the first place. I'm not saying a company should never want to grow- but it's not always a desirable end, either.

Now, to play devil's advocate against myself- I see your point about burnout when you're staying that small. The organization I belong to is lucky in that we have several people that are as skilled at the 'Muck' side of thing as the art. Doing both simultaneously for no pay for (going on) three seasons does wear on one. Still doing things the same way (for no pay) ten years from now is an appalling prospect, and this is coming from someone that kind of *likes* doing all that marketing/pr stuff in addition to the show itself. And I'm directing our next show in the fall- it's a super ambitious project, and due to our limited resources I've already had to make some major compromises to how I want to execute parts of it. I think it'll still be really good, but there are going to be some scenes where I shake my head wistfully and think "man, if only we'd had a few more grand to throw at this."

So I guess I'm saying I agree with you, but that especially in the current climate companies need to be extremely smart and cautious about how they grow.

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