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Aaron Andersen
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As a liberal democrat, I found this fairly entertaining. Pass the popcorn!
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If you perceive that this is a good deal for you, then I'm not sure what cause you have to complain. If you want to capture more of the economic surplus for yourself, then try to negotiate down the price or go with a catalog that reaches the same value customers at a lower price, or a higher value customer base for the same price, if you can find one. As for Michael's idea, I agree there is an opportunity to leverage technology and start competing on price. But it certainly is not "blue ocean" in a crowded market like this. Give it a shot, and you'll see that ocean get very red, very fast. If one catalog starts competing on price, then they will all have to do it. And within a year or two, they will have competed away most or all the profit from ad sales. They know this, so they keep it the way it is. No established player wants a price war. And newcomers rarely have the established revenue streams and cost efficiencies to be able to afford one.
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"Oddly, we have a framework now where you can mock something and get away with violating its copyright, but you cannot respond sincerely to it. That sucks." This is a really good point.
Makes my stomach churn. The last sentence is particularly disgusting. How about a little erotic-exotic objectification with your racism?
Toggle Commented Mar 25, 2011 on "Brown and Leggy" at Parabasis
"It's a lot of reinforcement of institutional thinking disguised as Bold Contrarian Truth Telling..." Yes. That really nails something about it that was nagging at me, but that I couldn't quite describe. Good job to both you and Kari for calling him out for kissing so much AD ass. You're going to easy on him with "problematic." :)
Toggle Commented Mar 21, 2011 on Identifying With Elites at Parabasis
I generally agree that if artists are to be paid more, all else equal, there will have to be a concentration and reduction of the quantity of "product" for sale. But you can't really enforce that. If all the theater artists were going to get together and agree to this scheme, it would mean some would not work at all. And we know that there are lots of theater artists who would rather work for free than not work at all. Luckily "all else equal" doesn't exist in the real world. I think the expansion of theater outside of currently saturated urban hubs is a smart move to discover unmet demand (Scott has been saying this for a long time). Just convince more theater artists that it is better to work in theater with pay, in a place where that pay can actually cover rent, than it is to chase after the attention and approval of the urban demigods of the industry.
Toggle Commented Feb 4, 2011 on Rocco Sock-o at Parabasis
OK, so expansion to rural markets is one way to increase demand. I suppose expansion to new international markets MIGHT be another. And then there is the classic non-falsifiable strategy--greater education programs to raise the next generation of theater supporters. Let's hear some others. Seriously, everybody is always talking about growing the size of the pie. Talking and talking and talking about it. But this rural expansion is the first new idea I've personally heard to increase demand for the arts in a long time. For the most part, I agree with Landesman (as you've related his perspective). I disagree that nonprofits have a greater responsibility to take risks. Some of them ought to focus on sustainability, so that all the ephemeral risk takers can have a sort of a fallback position from time to time. Sustainability calls for managed risks. Also, there are more rewards for risk on Broadway. If you want nonprofits to take more risks, you've got to increase the rewards.
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How exactly is an expression of frustration equivalent to accusing somebody of arguing in bad faith?
Toggle Commented Jan 25, 2011 on More About Words at Parabasis
My thought in context of a younger organization is that you have to solidify the skills on one hand before moving to the other, so that audiences (or customers or whatever), can become confident in your execution. In other words, I think a young organization needs to nail the right hand before adding the left. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on that.
Toggle Commented Jan 24, 2011 on Left Hand - Right Hand at The Mission Paradox Blog
Dammit. Why can't I figure out how to use the html tags that turn the formatting OFF? I mean only the word "need" to be italicized.
Toggle Commented Jan 22, 2011 on What We Need at Parabasis
The segregation you're talking about is largely true in Chicago, though I do see some of our premiere theater institutions working to change their own approaches. Steppenwolf and Goodman have both stepped up their game in producing more and more work by people of color, with casts full of people of color, and it's not just in the "access" programming for bussed in school kids. And it's not just them trying. So, I'm glad of that, but I am getting really sick and tired of seeing small theaters not even try. I don't think it's intentional, but there is a lot of birds-of-a-feather mentality. And, full disclosure, I'm a straight white privileged guy on the Board of one of these small theater companies, and I've not yet figured out how to broach this subject except in the softest, most egg-shell-treading way. It's really easy not to bring it up at all, of course. Basically, most people that run these little companies were theater majors at liberal arts colleges (like me), and most are white (like me). And, what makes that problematic is that most are uninterested in figuring out what their potential audiences might want (and need) to see. Instead, they are interested in producing that play they loved in college, or the play that maximize roles for their friends. Or the one that the critics will like, if they're a few years into it... Bard, I missed this issue, or really I just wimped out and didn't go far enough, when I commented on your theater power/gatekeeper analysis blog post.
Toggle Commented Jan 22, 2011 on What We Need at Parabasis
I could be reading 99 and RVCBard wrong here, and please feel free to tell me if I am. But it reminds me a lot of the gun control debate. One group says something like "words don't hurt people, people hurt people." And this is really sensible when you think about it, particularly if you like an emphasis on individual responsibility. Then another group says that some people are not responsible enough with their words not to hurt people inadvertently, so perhaps some words shouldn't be in circulation.
Toggle Commented Jan 21, 2011 on More About Words at Parabasis
I really want to agree with 99 on how to approach Huck Finn in schools. I mean, I really do. It would be a great, wonderful learning catharsis, like on a Very Special Episode of Degrassi Junior High. But I'm not sure I believe in educational catharsis as seen on TV. Also, I'm suspicious of my own motives as a white man for wanting to see Huck Finn used positively this way. Because, if it is possible to basically teach the book as it is currently taught, and then also have the discussion of the n-word and other forms of racism in a fruitful, positive way, it would mean that our educational system is not racist in a deep down, imbedded in the systems of American education, cultural way. It's just a lack of sensitivity training! That would make me feel a LOT better, as a white man. Because that would mean the education system that worked very well for me isn't actually tilted against people who aren't like me. And maybe I can donate money to an organization that does multi-cultural sensitivity training in schools (is it OK if that organization is run by white people?). Then we could do white people's favorite thing: use programs we white people designed, to help black people! So, this is getting snarky, which was not what I originally intended. Basically, I don't believe that our educational system is safe enough and encouraging enough for black kids, and perhaps those should be prerequisites to getting a productive discussion out of Twain's use of the N-bomb.
Toggle Commented Jan 21, 2011 on More About Words at Parabasis
Good stuff! I agree completely. I also think that when there are a lot of leaks, then an organization can be close to the edge of failure for quite a while, close enough that a crisis that would be endured by a stronger organization just tips the leaky one right over the edge. And in that case, the crisis will, of course, be blamed.
Toggle Commented Dec 27, 2010 on Fixing the leak: Part 1 at The Mission Paradox Blog
And RVCBard, you must know that we white people are WAY more afraid of appearing racist than just being racist. We get punished for the former, not the latter.
This is actually evidence of even worse, more insidious racism. There is a difference between racism and bigotry. Bigotry becomes racism when it combines race prejudice with the power to actually exclude, harm, dominate, etc... If bigots were always marginalized, they'd be harming themselves, but wouldn't have much power to harm others. These major media personalities definitely have the power to harm, oppress and dominate. But one could argue (for about 5 seconds) that when they are fired for using that power to express racial prejudice, than that power is being taken away from them--knocking them down a few pegs from powerful racist media mogul to unemployed bigot. Now, the reality is far, far worse, because they all got shiny new media jobs. They were rewarded for being racist. Don't you think that's worse? And if the argument that they acted opportunistically is true, it means that these announcers count on the industry rewarding them (after a token punishment) for spewing racist bile. That means that very large parts of this entire industry are systemically corrupt and racist. Worse than a little bigotry, no? And if that's what these media lords were expecting, as suggested by this post, it means that they KNOW the industry considers minorities as cannon fodder for white mogul career advancement. And Shirley Sherrod was a totally different thing. Not only were her comments taken way out of context (I'd say the same of Juan Williams), but she is not a media personality, not playing this game at all.
It is interesting to me when pressure for risk-averse, safe choices comes from the Board, many members of which are risk-tolerant in their own careers. There is also the unfortunate issue in nonprofits that we're generally managing to a financial bottom line of zero. We don't give ourselves much of a cushion to absorb failures that might hit the bottom line. The topic of risk-aversion in nonprofits is a huge one, and risk-aversion plays directly into what you're talking about.
Toggle Commented Oct 25, 2010 on No accidents at The Mission Paradox Blog
Live performance will always be subject to scarcity when artists get paid. I find that if one doesn't believe there is something amazing and special about live performance, it is just too depressing to work in the performing arts. And when we're tied to certain facilities as the locations for live performance, there is geographical scarcity, too. But yes, I agree that marketing MUST include building relationships. I also believe that marketing must include uncovering what the audience needs, and delivering it; but this is the part of "marketing" usually covered by the AD and other artistic staff.
Toggle Commented Oct 19, 2010 on A new problem at The Mission Paradox Blog
From my own perspective as a budget analyst for one of the country's largest symphony orchestras, I can tell you that smart managers don't boil it down to those dichotomies you mention, though we are facing the same problems of declining subscriptions, prices that prevent new people from trying us out, etc. We really see these trade-offs in the context of more complex inter-related systems, and we push hard on all fronts (earned revenue, contributed revenue, cost control, community support, etc, etc, etc) to keep the ship aright.
Toggle Commented Oct 12, 2010 on Talking Past Each Other at Parabasis
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Oct 12, 2010