The Money Horizons
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 Leave a Comment
By August Schulenburg
In my interesting comment dialogue with Randy yesterday, I touched on a feeling that I've been wanting to blog about for awhile.
There are two fantasies regarding theatre and money: 1.) That money can buy you quality, and 2.) that money has no impact on quality.
For the first, we have recent evidence that not even sixty-five million dollars can buy you excellence. For the second, the reality of producing on a shoestring budget with stolen hours is that every brilliant choice battles against the degradations of time, money, exhaustion and scheduling conflicts.
Money does increase the chances of a show being good, though it does not guarantee it. However, sometimes I suspect there is another boundary, where once crossed, every additional dollar actually makes excellence less likely. And this is because, once enough money is in play, a host of new adversaries to excellence arise. Every new dollar represents another opinion that must be fed, all risk and uniqueness are sanded down, and the play dies the death of second guesses from a thousand cooks.
It is possible to smuggle excellence across this moneyed border, just as it is possible to cobble it together from almost nothing. But as Flux creeps towards greater resources, this line is always present in my mind, especially as we try to pay our artists more. I think there is a territory where you have just enough resources to make beautiful and essential work without burning out your people; and if we ever cross that shifting horizon, I hope we can keep our balance and not race forward to moneyed death, nor fall back to burned out oblivion.
What has been your experience in finding that fabled land? Is there even a there there?