Results tagged “payola” from ARTicles

Last weekend a group of about 400 leaders of minority theatre got together in New York to talk about the marginalization of minority theatre. Like every creative industry, the economics of theatre are changing, and small black and Latino theatres are particularly squeezed. But halfway through an account of a panel discussion in Backstage, came these remarkable paragraphs:

Though no study currently exists on the state of theatres of color in comparison to other small, non-profit theatres with financial struggles, the panelists offered anecdotal evidence of marginalization, particularly by the media. Marjorie Moon from the Billie Holliday Theatre said that she continues to beg reviewers to see her shows, even going so far as to send them $25 money orders. According to Moon, she has been refused so many times that the Billie Holiday Theatre does not have valuable press clips to send with grant applications, which results in a lack of funding.

If theatres do receive media coverage, it is biased or obtuse, according to Lorna Hill, artistic director of the 30 year-old Ujima Theatre in Buffalo. "In Buffalo we don't have culturally competent reporters or reviewers," Hill said. "I would give one beautiful leg to not have another white reviewer show up in my theatre and misinterpret my work."

For Emanuel Moran, artistic director of Teatro Sea in Manhattan, Latino theatres face a twofold disadvantage when gaining media coverage: being a low-budget minority theatre, and featuring bilingual and Spanish language productions.

"Newspapers will send reviewers who don't speak Spanish," said Moran. "So they say, 'That was a beautiful show, but I didn't understand a word.'

Money for reviews? Really? I can't think of a better way to make sure an ethical critic would give a show a pass. Or am I just being naive?

May 20, 2008 7:22 PM |


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