Last week, during a conference covering the intricacies of new play development, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Rocco Landesman drove a nail into the bohemian hearts of every artist in the nation when he stated, ” You can either increase demand of decrease supply. Demand is not going to increase, so it is time to think about desceasing supply.” After the first wave of responders hit the internet decrying his comments, Landesman defended his position by citing the NEA’s research that shows the number of theatre patrons is generally on the decline while the number of theatre companies has been on a steady climb.
With an already large amount of theatre companies in a small area, this year brings us the creation of five more theatre companies offerings plays of their own. As Mr. Landesman said, “That’s a conversation nobody wants to have” but in this or any economy we need to remember that theatre is also a business. On one hand – is the theatre community doing itself a service by continuing to expand offering multiple productions of the same show each year, which potentially spreads thin time and resources? On the other hand – isn’t more artistic opportunities for audiences, especially future generations, a wonderful thing?
Let us know what you think!