division of authority - diminishing a director's discretion
Posted 22 March 2001 - 08:13 AM
i suspect an idea like that might be easy to sell to a board that's a little scared about where their money is going, and that of their friends. but in my opinion, and i would love to hear from others, what it generally results in is the same problem pointed in another direction. away from art, your organization may seem more organized, but art sells the tickets, brings in the audience, brings in the patrons, and you could end up being a very well organized group that doesn't sell and thereby organizes itself out of existence.
in an atmosphere organized around this trend, for instance, a dancer like nureyev could not survive anymore, genius or not, because a pool of corporate decisionmakers would decide that artistic temperament was not profitable to deal with, and would make an example out of such a one, at the same time avoiding having responsibility for that being laid on the shoulders of one person by making it a decision by committee that most probably includes non-artists. and i think that a good artistic director has to have a foot in both places, both business and art, even if someone else is balancing the books; a responsible artistic director knows what the budget is and works hard to keep within it, and a lot of them do well.
however, you cannot legislate all uncertainties and you cannot entirely eliminate risk, and risk is not the sole provenance of artists. corporate re-organization cannot sell tickets the public doesn't want to buy. the public's perception is just as important as any other factor in a company's success, even though it might be difficult for an organization with such a mind-set to deal with, because it cannot be controlled. and in the end, a company succeeds or doesn't succeed on the strength of that public, and not on whether or not its administration is run on a typical corporate business model. i don't think most such administrations think of art and business as partners, but of art as a stepchild of sorts, that if it works, serves to justify their existence, instead of as a symbiotic type of relationship. i don't think it's going to work finally; in the end, i think these groups will either cease to exist or have to radically reorganize yet again. (aren't you glad you didn't ask what i thought?)
[This message has been edited by pmeja (edited March 22, 2001).]
Posted 22 March 2001 - 09:37 AM
Posted 22 March 2001 - 12:26 PM
Posted 22 March 2001 - 01:32 PM
Most successfull businesses began as someone's passion to build a better mousetrap (or make a better dance). In earlier times (much government/private dance funding)the pressure to succeed from a financial standpoint was greater in business than dance earlier. This is changing as the arts lose funding sources and find revivals keep the seats full.
Our loss is that dance makers no longer have the opportunity to create and create. Today there is often a one shot mentality - if it works, change the wrapper and make more. If it does not, then bring back something that did.
Here we can learn from businesses. They bring new products (ballets) using the funds from older reliable products (Nuts). They must grow audiences or lose out to the competition. In dance we often overlook this aspect due to the use of such funds to operate versus create. Or at least sometimes fail to see how new work and better marketing can increase audience.
Sorry to ramble....
Posted 22 March 2001 - 03:32 PM
Posted 22 March 2001 - 08:06 PM
Power abhors a vacuum. Someone must be in charge and, since it's ballet you are staging, it damn well better be someone who is steeped in that craft.
[This message has been edited by Michael1 (edited March 22, 2001).]
Posted 22 March 2001 - 08:53 PM
The problem with a purely corporate structure in the arts is that BAR a major star like Nureyev (and there simply aren't any of those out there these days)they have to cater to public taste in order to sell tickets. Yes, a good arts organization should also be in the business of EDUCATING taste. That's why there are triple/quadruple bills. But the idea that you can line up dancers like battery hens and expect them to 'produce' on command, and to have an artistically un-educated corporate drone set artistic policy (even with help from those better educated than him/herself) will lead to a mediocre company producing mediocre works in a mediocre fashion. Great works of art have always been the result of a certain amount of "daring". You cannot run a great arts organization and refuse to take risk. Diaghlev took risks all the time. Of course it was his money and the money of his rich friends, but the results are there for all of us to see.
A corporate drone will not want to take any risk at all. His board, as Pmeja has said will be fearful of losing their investments. After all why are the board members there: because they love ballet? because they like the prestige of being associated with an arts organization? a bit of both? Surely most if not all of them are interested in the prestige that is usually attached to such positions. But in order for it to BE prestigious, the general public needs to perceive it that way. So our corporately-structured arts organization has to CONVINCE the general public that the organization is a great thing. How?MARKETING!!! (And who was it on this board who was somewhat offended by slick marketing of the arts? If I tried I could write really slick copy for most full-length ballets, and I could work on the "abstract" ones, too. Hey, this could be a topic for another thread! ) Creative advertising, and manipulation of the media could be used to convince the public that what is being offered is what they MUST see. In order for this approach to work, however, one needs to cater to the lowest common denominator - not something that is condusive to great art. Not something condusive to creating a great ballet company.
Posted 22 March 2001 - 09:52 PM
An analogy. About 15 years ago, many cities had two or three hometown department stores, usually family-owned. These were bought up by corporations, then sold, then sold again, as corporations sought to diversify and expand their holdings. Washington had two such stores; both are now gone. The fourth, or fifth, owners had no clue how to run department stores, and so they ran them into the ground, then bailed.
It will, of course, be blamed on ballet -- old-fashioned art form, only old people in the audience, an art form that became stale. This may be true, but the reasons will not be the ones given.
I fault the new managers. If someone came to me and asked me to be the CEO of a shoe factory, or a grocery store, I would have the decency to say no thank you. Wearing shoes and buying food might make me more qualified than some of these clowns, who have barely seen a ballet.
(Anyone interested in the long saga of what happens to a ballet company when taken over by the president of an amusement park and the undersecretary of defense is welcome to try my Bournonville in Hell pieces on the main site. They're in the Bournonville Archive, link on the home page.)
Posted 29 March 2001 - 01:02 AM
I agree with Cargill that a Nureyev would survive under any type of management style - perhaps ESPECIALLY in a corporate-style environment because of the marketing value of a 'star'.
Anyone else enjoying the mental image of Nureyev in a committee meeting? I suppose he must have been in some when he directed the Paris Opera, but still his temperment seems like it would be the ultimate wildcard to make for electric committee meetings.
Speaking of reputations of strong temperment, does anyone have any buzz about why Lou Conte retired from Hubbard Street?
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