In the last month, 3 of Michigan’s Equity theatre companies have lost their Artistic Directors.
2 have been removed by their Board of Directors, and one resigned without an official reason given by the company.
With the big economic difficulties facing this state, the theatre industry is being hit quite hard. It’s interesting to wonder – is that the real reason these things are happening?
Are the cuts and cutbacks and layoffs that are affecting the Michigan auto industry, and all the related industries, now clearly affecting how the arts organizations in the state are behaving?
Are we, theatres and theatre artists, suddenly to be held to only the bottom line of finances? Or is there more going on and are the three events happening so closely together merely coincidence?
As an Artistic Director, I certainly empathize with the 3 who no longer have their jobs, and the events of the past month sure have me evaluating my own life and work.
This is a tough time to be running a business that has too often been labeled “an extravagance”, or “expendable”.
Still, right now I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing. I mean, sure, I’d like to make more money, but the reason I say over and over that I like making plays, and working with quality people, and doing my job… is because it’s true! I’m going to keep doing it as long as I can. I’ve been wondering the past week if running a theatre is like being the manager for a Major League baseball team: the catchphrase there is that managers are basically “hired to be fired” – meaning, of course, that you’re only keeping the job as long as things go really well – the minute things start to go south, you’re the fall guy. Is being an Artistic Director like that? I don’t know. I don’t have the answers, I’m just thinking about recent events, and trying to make some sense out of them…
Well, either way, I’m not going to worry about it. Like any aspect of our lives, if we let fear be our guiding factor then our choices will not be good.
I will continue my efforts to work with good people, make good plays, and do my job.
I will continue to enjoy myself, and work to help those around me enjoy themselves.
I will continue to stick true to my principles, beliefs and values.
And that will either work, or it won’t!