Thursday, March 22, 2012

When I Heard the Learn'd Panelists ...
UPDATED

... BEGIN UPDATE ...

Hugh MacLeod's latest email just hit my inbox.  Synchronicity:


(If you haven't already, subscribe to his daily cartoon email newsletter!)

... END UPDATE ...

Before I write anything else, let me say:  I think the LA Stage Talks series is a good idea, and I fully intend on attending at least one ("Why Are Theatre-Makers the Masters of Collaboration?" on May 14th) and will try to catch the livestreams of the others.  Conversations are good.  Thinking about what theatre can do, how that differs from other forms of art and entertainment, and how we might flex that power; these are worthwhile pursuits.  The LA Stage Alliance fulfills an important need for Los Angeles theatre, and it pleases me to see them proactively doing this sort of thing for the community.

However, in reading the press release (quoted in its entirety below) I can't help but roll my eyes.  Name one other form of art or entertainment that indulges in this kind of navel-gazing.  A series of panel discussions?  Really?  Here's what is in store for attendeees of the first panel, entitled "What is the Intrinsic Impact of Live Theatre?":
The results will be revealed of a two-year, nationwide research study called “Measuring the Intrinsic Impact of Live Theatre,” that looked at 18 theatre companies across the country, 58 productions, and over 20,000 survey responses — all in an effort to increase the field’s understanding of what seeing a piece of theatre actually does to someone emotionally, intellectually, and empathetically.
That's very exciting, in a dreadfully wonkish sort of way.  Meanwhile, people are out there actually making compelling theatre, people who don't give two shakes about panel discussions regarding the intrinsic impact of live theatre because said people are actually achieving that impact on a nightly basis.

As a sweaty-toothed madman once said (in his poem, "When I heard the Learn'd Astronomer"):
WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
I am looking forward to hearing more about these panels, and if you've read this blog for any amount of time, you know I like pondering my own theatrical belly-button as much as the next guy.  I trust that all sorts of marvelous things will come from these discussions--I really do.  I am sorry to be such a cynic about this.  Meetings just make me ... itchy.
  
Press release follows.
 
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LA STAGE ALLIANCE ANNOUNCES LA STAGE TALKS
MARCH 27 - JULY 9, 2012

FIVE PANELS EXPLORING THE CREATION OF
PERFORMING ARTS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA REGION

LA STAGE CEO TERENCE McFARLAND WILL MODERATE
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS

LA STAGE Alliance has announced LA Stage Talks, a series of panel discussions moderated by LA STAGE Alliance CEO Terence McFarland, exploring various aspects of the creation of performing arts in the Southern California region. The premiere event will take place on Tuesday, March 27 from 10am - 1pm, at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. All events are free, but space is limited. RSVP is required at www.LASTAGEAlliance.com/talks.

The first subject to be explored is What is the Intrinsic Impact of Live Theatre? Co-hosted by Center Theatre Group at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, noted arts researcher Alan Brown, project director Clayton Lord, and leaders of greater Los Angeles theatres will discuss Counting New Beans: Intrinsic Impact and the Value of Art, a new book that examines the ways theatre artists, administrators, patrons, and funders value and evaluate the art they make and consume. The results will be revealed of a two-year, nationwide research study called “Measuring the Intrinsic Impact of Live Theatre,” that looked at 18 theatre companies across the country, 58 productions, and over 20,000 survey responses — all in an effort to increase the field’s understanding of what seeing a piece of theatre actually does to someone emotionally, intellectually, and empathetically.

Speakers at the March 27 panel include researcher Alan Brown, researcher Clayton Lord, Theatre @ Boston Court artistic director Jessica Kubzansky, Musical Theatre West marketing director Michael Betts, South Coast Repertory director of marketing Bil Schroader. The Kirk Douglas Theatre is located at 9820 Washington Boulevard in Culver City. Free parking is available in the City Hall underground garage, across Culver Boulevard from the rear of the theatre.

The schedule of future LA Stage Talks includes the following: Arts Criticism - How Does It Serve Los Angeles? (Monday, April 30, 7-9pm, co-hosted by Southern California Public Radio at KPCC Crawford Family Forum in Pasadena); Why Are Theatre-Makers the Masters of Collaboration? (Monday, May 14, 7-9pm, co-hosted by LA County Arts Commission/Ford Theatres at Inside the Ford); What Is Artistic Direction and How Can You Tell When Someone Is Doing It? (Monday, June 11, 7-9pm, co-hosted by the Geffen Playhouse, at the Geffen); and What Am I Hearing? The Aural Life of the Theatre (Monday, July 9. 7-9pm, co-hosted by the Colburn School at Zipper Hall). Terence McFarland will moderate all discussions.

All LA Stage Talks will be livestreamed, and panelists will take questions from online viewers during the events. Information on how to view and how to ask questions will be posted on each event date at http://www.lastagealliance.com/, where further information on the LA Stage Talks program is available now.
  
LA STAGE Alliance, a non-profit organization empowering artists and engaging audiences since 1975, is dedicated to building awareness, appreciation, and support for the performing arts in Greater Los Angeles by strengthening the sector through community building, collaborative marketing, audience engagement, professional development, and advocacy. LA STAGE Alliance serves over 900 arts organizations annually, including over 450 dues-paying member professional, educational, and community based producing and presenting performing arts organizations in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. LA STAGE Alliance’s constituents operate in intimate sized venues (99 seats or less), mid-sized venues (100-499 seats), and in large venues (500+ seats), and include independent producers, educational groups, and social service organizations that have a performing arts component. Additionally, LA STAGE Alliance directly serves over 50,000 diverse local, regional, national, and international performing arts patrons and, indirectly, three million unique patron households by conducting research on their behavior and buying habits. Providing access to the performing arts for patrons and access to resources for organizations has been our focus for 35 years.

LA STAGE Alliance programs are sponsored, in part, by Actors Equity Association, The Angell Foundation, Arts Council for Long Beach, California Arts Council, California Community Foundation, City of Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA), City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division, City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Division, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Goldstar, the James Irvine Foundation, Los Angeles County Supervisors through the LA County Arts Commission, Los Angeles Times, MusiCares/Grammy Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, SDC, The Shubert Foundation, and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

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