2009 will surely be remembered as the year we were forced to defend ourselves as contributing citizens by our own government. Which made us furious (but not quite to the point of pitchforks and torches), but also forced us to take a good, hard look at our systems and infrastructure, and begin a real dialogue on the future of our industry. And the future of the companies that comprise it. It was the year that we truly came together as a tribe, albeit a tribe under siege. No change without crisis, as they say. 2010 will be a year of big decisions, no doubt about it. What’s next? Where do we go from here?
I guess the answer to this question has much to do with where you sit on the tree of the arts industry in BC. Some of us are in immediate danger. Some of us have been hit more obliquely. My work, for example, is self-produced and has never received the benefit of government funding. I’m personally more interested in establishing a small-business, entrepreneurial style of production. My work hasn’t been directly affected by the cuts at all. But the work of many of the companies that I love and rely on as part of my ecosystem have been, so that alone makes it my problem. And if that’s not enough, the cuts are nothing if not a barefaced declaration by the Liberals that the work I do and the industry that I am helping to build is meaningless. Inconsequential. A luxury.
I am sick to the teeth of defending Art as ‘necessary’. I’m so over it. I’m just going to keep making it and experiencing it. But I’ll quite happily keep telling my government that they need to get over it too, at least until our arts sector is raised back to the level of respect enjoyed by the rest of the country. So that’s on the 2010 to-do list.
What else does the coming year hold? For me there’s the matter of what to do with this here blog. It’s been going for a while, and it’s been received well by my city and industry, I think, and I hope it has provided a source of some discussion. Last year, 77 productions took advantage of my free Video Listing service here, which saw all of them accountably telling their potential audience why they felt we should spend our time and money on them. For that I am proud of them all, and grateful for their generosity and support. We’re getting much more savvy as businesspeople, and as marketers. I’m hoping this year will see great leaps forward in this regard, and in our dialogue as a community here on the net.
I’ve been talking about this with Mike and some others here recently, and basically getting down on my knees and begging theatre artists across Canada to engage more online. The great thing about that discussion is that it has brought back into focus how important I feel it is for us to commune together on a regular basis and share ideas and resources, debate, promote and all in all be a more informed and connected industry. (Thanks for that Mike.) To that end I am re-committing to The Next Stage and to my own blogging, I invite you to join me – here, or at your own sites this year. The theatrosphere has been incredibly vibrant of late, the conversation out here has been as healthy and progressive as it’s ever been, actually, and it’s proving a deep well of inspiration. (We’ll be taking a tour in the next post, it’s some great stuff.) It just needs more Canada. We need more of each other. Our audience needs more of us. Here’s to a kick-ass 2010 everyone, I can’t wait to hear about how you’re all doing.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user macastat