Mar 9, 2012

Talking Big, Staying Small

I don't endorse everything rural-arts gadfly Scott Walters has to say, but I am grateful that he persists in making his case for arts funding redistribution, because frankly, who else is doing it, at least in his terms? A lot of the conversation around these topics revolves around how the bigger theaters can/should be better at what they do; this is quite rightly the concern of people who take seriously the mission of large nonprofits in major urban centers and want to hold them to account. Scott's critique is different; he'd like to see the major nonprofits stop hogging the entirety of the conversation about the state of the theatrical arts, not to mention getting the lion's share of the funding. I'm sympathetic to the redistributive impulse, albeit from a different angle—I tend to see smaller, more flexible theater companies in large urban centers as valuable alternatives/foils to the big kahunas, and that's where the majority of my focus has been.

All of which is preamble to say that I'm chuffed to see Scott take his work in two complementary directions: First, as a columnist for Huffington Post, where he has the chance to bring this discussion to a more national platform, and to more non-theater-junkie-readers, than ever before; and second, as director of a new NEA-funded "Our Town" pilot arts program in Bakersville, North Carolina (pop 464). I don't know when he finds time to teach. But more power to him; I look forward to hearing and seeing more from the feisty professor.

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