Archive for category Slow Theatre

The Boston Theatre Conference, what’s it all about

This February welcomes the return of the Boston Theatre Conference.  The 2011 Conference, Home Grown investigates the parallels between the Slow Food Movement (http://www.slowfoodusa.org) and a Slow Arts Movement.  What do we mean when we say Slow Food?  We mean; local, sustainable, lively, fresh and lush.  Slow Food is a way of living and a way of eating where taste and appreciation for locally grown food is cultivated.   This year’s conference is an opportunity for us to start the conversation and to strategize about what a Slow Arts Movement is, how we create the environment for this shift and what elements from Slow Food we should look at in building our own campaign.  Artists from many of the area’s most vibrant companies will be on hand to talk about the advantages of supporting local theatre. This is an opportunity for you the theatre lover to speak to them about their companies, the type of work they do, what their missions are and the why and the how they support local. Pop-up performances will be peppered throughout each day so that attendees may sample the neighborhood fare.

Scheduled to speak is area restaurateur Barbara Lynch whose ventures include No. 9 Park, B&G Oysters, and The Butcher Shop.  Ms. Lynch will speak about Slow Food in Boston and how it has changed the attitudes of both the producers and consumers towards supporting local food.  The Huntington Theatre Company’s Michael Maso will talk about the changes he has witnessed in Boston Theatre over the years.  Attendees will be able to participate in workshops ranging from the ins and outs of a portfolio career to what we can learn from community theatre.  We’ll spend the rest of the conference examining how to put the tenants of Slow Food into practice.

In the past conference attendees have skewed towards theatre practitioners, and often those at a mid point in their careers, but the Boston Theatre Conference is for everyone.  Slow Food calls for consumers to be participants, to act as co-producers.  This is our call to you.  Anyone who loves theatre, or is interested in theatre is encouraged to attend.  We’ve begun a blog (https://bostontheatreconference.wordpress.com/ ) to start the dialogue before February’s event.  Visit the blog weekly and “like” us on Facebook to keep up with the conversation online.  Watch for the twitter hashtag #BTC11, in the StageSourceBos twitter feed.  When you have an idea, contact us.  You voice should be heard, and we’d love you to be a guest blogger.  Speak with your friends and colleagues about the issues and ideas presented ahead of the meeting, and come ready to join the conversation in February.

Now is the time for all of us to get involved and come to the conference buzzing with ideas and inspiration.  They key to the Boston Theatre Conference’s success is engagement.  We hope you’ll join us on-line now and in person in February.

Tickets to Home Grown: The Boston Theatre Conference 2011, are available at www.stagesource.org.  Click on the Programs and Events link on the menu bar and look for Home Grown.

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Great Minds Think Alike

We’re not the only ones talking about a Slow Theatre Movement!  From time to time we’ll repost from the blogs of others who are exploring a Slow Theatre Movement.   This post comes from http://yourtownperforms.com/

“Growing Local”- Not Just for Tomatoes

by Craige Hoover

One of the Sunday morning news shows did a feature story on the recent spike in the number of farmer’s markets popping up around the country. In fact, the number of weekly or monthly farmer’s markets in this country has almost doubled in the last year. As it turns out, people get a kick out of taking in locally grown fruits, vegetables, and spices. Not only are there health benefits, but there are community benefits as well. Buying locally grown products supports local farmers, and the farmers market itself has become a community gathering ritual that people look forward to each week. Sure, the tomatoes aren’t perfect, but that is a welcome trade-off for knowing exactly where the tomato was grown, knowing the farmer personally, and that he or she took pride in its cultivation.

There’s a supply-side reason for the success too. Farmer’s have found that selling their foods locally yields a higher financial return per acre than going through food distributor. Plus, the farmers are able to grow much more diversified crops, which is better for their soil, requiring less fertilizer, which means amore organic product.  It’s touchy-feely for the farmers too, as selling to the folks in their community turns out to be far more personally rewarding than loading it onto a semi-truck.

Does any of this sound familiar?  The entire point of this blog and my work is to try and convince people that the arts can and in fact, should be “grown locally.” It’s kind of remarkable how neatly the comparison fits. In fact, I’m going to rewrite the above paragraph as a hypothetical story about the arts, substituting the subject of the article in italics.

Corny, I know 

One of the Sunday morning news shows did a feature story on the recent spike in the number of local performing arts groupspopping up around the country. In fact, the number of weekly or monthly performing arts events in this country has almost doubled in the last year. As it turns out, people get a kick out of taking in locally produced theatre, dance, music, and visual arts. Not only are there cultural benefits, but there are community benefits as well. Attending local arts programs supports localartists, and the performances themselves have become a community gathering ritual that people look forward to each week. Sure, the programs aren’t perfect, but that is a welcome trade-off for knowing exactly where the programs were created, knowing the artists personally, and that he or she used great care in its cultivation.

There’s a supply-side reason for the success too. Arts organizations have found that selling their foods locally yields a higher financial return per square foot of performance space than does a giant performing arts center. Plus, the organizations are able to feature a much more diversified array of programming, which is better for keeping their programming fresh, their artists busy, and requiring less subsidies, which means more sustainable product. It’s touchy-feely for the artists too, as performing for the folks in their community turns out to be far more personally rewarding than for a dark sea of strangers.

It’s kind of eerie, isn’t it? It also makes perfect sense. Returning to the neighborhood scale is a movement that is not localized to the development, retail, and farming industries, it’s a cultural-wide movement that has only just begun to take root (pun intended).

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STAGE MATTERS

Please watch the video below produced by Theatre Communications Group on “why/how/if theatre matters in America. The STAGE MATTERS video captures artists, theatre leaders, patrons, educators, corporate executives and politicians around the country as they emphatically speak about the value of theatre and challenges we face in an ever-changing environment.”

Watching it, I found it obviously relevant to our discussions on this blog, and I urge you to share it with your friends and fellow theatre professionals and supporters.

STAGE MATTERS is a collaboration between Theatre Communications Group and Firefly: Theater & Films and was made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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How movements are created

Have you checked out the videos we posted of Diane Ragsdale speaking about “Slow Arts”?  If not check them out and come back to this video.

For those of you who have been following the videos, this final clip talks about How we start a Slow Arts movement by:

  • Increasing Demand
  • Increasing Appreciation
  • Helping an entire community or the individuals in a community to develop their capacities to more meaningfully engage with art

Those are just the starters.  It’s not an overnight process.  It will require more than one organization to make it happen.

Do these ideas work for Boston?  How should we frame the conversation for our sector’s unique needs?  Watch the video(s) share your thoughts and join us in February.

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TPFNAA or The People Formerly Known As Audience

We all talk about audience development. Do we need to rethink the term?  Not development. Audience.

Katya Andresen of Network for Good recently wrote an entry about audience on her blog Getting to the Point.

The Slow Food movement asks farmers to look at the people who purchase food not as consumers but as co-producers.  A co-producer being a person who shares in the experience of creating the food.    How can we as theatre professionals take the same approach to the people we call audience?

The following is an excerpt from Ms. Andresen’s blog talking about, “the new audience”.

The People Formerly Known as The Audience

Originally posted on Getting to the Point ,Wed, October 27, 2010

As I’ve blogged before, “audience” is an antiquated word in a time where people no longer passively consume information.  I’ve been trying to figure out what to call an audience (which is not an audience at all) in this day and age.

Clay Shirky’s highly recommended new book, Cognitive Surplus, cites NYU’s Jay Rosen’s phrase: “The People Formerly Known as the Audience.”  I like it.

Here’s what I think about The People Formerly Known as the Audience…

1. Don’t want to listen to us, they want to speak.

2. Don’t want to passively receive information; they want to interact.

3. Don’t want to consume content; they want to create it.

We should think of ourselves not as mere nonprofit marketing professionals but as listeners, engagers and participants. The more WE are the audience to THEM, the better.

So now it’s your turn!  TPFNAA, talk to us.  Tell us how you’d like to be referred to.  Tell us how you like to participate in theatre!  We’re listening and we’d like to hear from you!

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