“How much does it cost?” If that’s a question that comes up all too frequently in your life and work, there’s probably something of game-changing interest in these pages for you. Just how you follow this issue’s money trail—focusing with a budget-specialist’s attentiveness on bottom-line details, or skimming the surface of trends and prognostications—depends as much upon your nerd quotient as it does upon how deeply you’re immersed in the economics of the field.
The inspiration for this month’s cluster of articles about fiscal matters is Sarah Hart’s detailed analysis of TCG’s annual Theatre Facts report (“Expect the Unexpected”). Bolstered by a tell-it-like-it-is interview with fiscal consultant Susan Nelson, Hart’s report depicts an American theatre landscape less averse to artistic risk-taking than it has been in earlier times, but also adrift in a mutable economic environment in which capitalization has become a critical cause for concern. “The ongoing struggle to balance organizations’ budgets and to maintain strong cash flow” is the battle of the moment, suggests TCG executive director Teresa Eyring in her editorial appeal for a more workable fiscal policy for the field.
A crew of freelance contributors addresses money matters from several other perspectives. Critic Nelson Pressley plunges merrily into the minutiae of a midsize theatre budget, coaxing colorful revelations from the team that created ZACH Theatre of Austin’s 2011 production of August: Osage County (“Show Me the Money”). A trio of U.S. observers gains unprecedented access to the changing structure of arts funding in Cuba, in a fascinating essay (“Once on This Island”) that illuminates how different economic philosophies affect the lives of artists living under them. Arts reporter Jeremy M. Barker does his homework (and perhaps yours, too) in a careful, artist-centric overview of the challenges and opportunities presented by Obamacare (“Understanding the Affordable Care Act”).
There’s more about money: In her Strategies column, AT senior editor Eliza Bent vets the radical idea of paying all members of a theatre company equally. In a pair of online exclusives, playwright J.T. Rogers and economist Eric Helland get contentious about the advisability of current policies that regulate arts funding in the U.S.; and this reporter ventures into the arts-funding tangle of contemporary Polish theatre, on the heels of an illuminating visit to the Malta Festival of Poznan.
Adjacent to the money trail are some stimulating rest stops: Chris Kompanek’s rehearsal encounter with cover figure Daniel Beaty and his collaborator Moisés Kaufman as they reanimate an American theatre legend (“Tall Enough to See the Truth”); actor Stacy Keach’s insightful how-to notes on playing Shakespeare’s heftiest leading men (“Role Call”); and anticipatory thoughts on theatrical happenings in the Deep South from yours truly and ATcorrespondent Justin Maxwell (“Stop the Presses,” “Risking It All at the N.O. Fringe”).