We co-sponsored the Chicago Theatre Anti-Conference with Theater Wit this week. Good times. There were some stand-out sessions but the best part, as always, was the networking. I hate to call it networking, I hate networking, I like hanging out. But, I got to meet some people I didn’t know and I got to have drinks with some old friends. I guess it’s the same thing.
One of our most pressing issues and one that we talked about at the conference is the one of space. I hear it time and again. This weekend I heard one theatre say they spend 85% of their annual budget on space. Crazy. I heard some other artists who are doing site specific work say that they chose to do that work partly as a reaction to the issue. They didn’t want to have to spend all their energy worrying about how they were going to pay for space. Itinerant companies have trouble finding audiences because their audiences never know where they are going to be.
I think in some ways “storefront” theatre was created as a reaction to the issue of space, but it was more about not being able to get an audience for the kind of work they wanted to do in a big house. Now we have an audience but we don’t have enough theatres of the kind we need. Oy.
I have heard very few workable solutions to the issue and would love to hear from anyone who has heard of something that works. Or anyone who has tried something that hasn’t worked but from which you may have learned something. Ideas??