One thing I miss about seeing everyone in the theatre is the opportunity to connect. There is so much happening in our world–especially in theatre. We’re thrilled about the passage of the Save Our Stages Act, which will provide $15 billion dollars in grants to support the live performing arts. I’m cautiously optimistic that vaccines are finally being distributed and will change our lives for the better (well, eventually…).
Spoiler alert! You are invited to join us on Monday, February 1st, at 7pm. More below…
But first, I’d like to share the following quote, which has been guiding my thinking of late:
The adjacent possible is a kind of shadow future, hovering on the edges of the present state of things, a map of all the ways in which the present can reinvent itself…[the adjacent possible] captures both the limits and the creative potential of change and innovation.
— Steven Johnson (Smith, 2010)
Our field is undergoing a major transformation, and some companies may not survive. But in all honesty, the non-profit theatre model in the U.S. has been hurtling toward a cliff for at least a decade. This is likely not news to you: subscription audiences have decreased, as has corporate and government funding. We have increasingly relied upon you, our supporters, to fill the gap. Our margins are razor-thin, leaving so many of us without reserves to weather unforeseen calamities like the one we’re currently experiencing.
However, one upside of this pause is that artistic leaders across the globe are in regular conversation, sharing EVERYTHING – from best practices to mistakes, examining both our practices and our assumptions. This pandemic has laid bare our vulnerabilities, and so we have banded together to envision a healthier, stronger theatre industry. We have a real opportunity to make nation-wide changes to our field.
An opportunity to think about the “adjacent possible.”
What is our purpose? What will the new normal look like?
How can we reimagine the future and how can the audience participate in that decision?
At PTC, we think that now is the time for our audiences and supporters as well as the artists in our community to be included in these conversations. We’d like to share our thinking around re-opening, season planning, what kind of art we make and who makes it. Based on some comments I’ve noted in our surveys and in response to published articles, it seems like a good time to open up the conversation beyond our institutions.
On Monday, February 1st, at 7pm, PTC will host a community Zoom (with an “encore” airing on Tuesday at 12pm). I hope you’ll join. If you care about theatre – any theatre – please come, and let us share with you some of the conversations happening in the arts. We’d like to respond to your questions and comments, and to hear your concerns as well as suggestions. (RSVP here to reserve your spot!)
At Philadelphia Theatre Company, we are here to serve YOU, and it’s critical that we have an understanding about what we mean to you and what you need from us. We know we can’t be all things to all people. But Philadelphia Theatre Company can aspire to be a sanctuary of theatrical wonder and artistic discovery, where all are welcome.
REALLY BIG P.S. – On behalf of the 5.1 million arts workers in America, we’re sharing this appeal to the incoming Biden Administration to establish a new Cabinet-level agency to support arts and culture. (See THIS letter). The Department of Labor Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that Arts & Culture accounts for $877.8 billion dollars and 4.5% of US GDP; more than agriculture, transportation, or construction. The sector also represents over 5.1 million jobs.