My Butt in the Seats of Your Neighborhood Stage

This weekend I was a guest on the Your Neighborhood Stage podcast. (July 14 episode, number 3.21). The folks over there let me talk for a real long time on a lot of issues. In the course of the conversation, I promoted the iPod idea I had blogged on before. I had listened to some of their earlier podcasts to get a sense of what I was in for and one of the on going issues they have discussed is inverting the idea that “all good things must percolate down from Broadway.” They were trying to find a way that things could be developed at a local level and percolate up in much the same way niche interests suddenly explode into popular consciousness via YouTube.

It occurred to me that while local theatres couldn’t really hope to get anything on Broadway via the current development path, they could be the place where the innovations that reinvigorate the performing arts are cultivated. As I note in my interview, the stakes are pretty high on Broadway but somewhat less so on the local level. (Not to understate the impact of even small financial losses on local theatres.) But with the rise of Pro-Ams (Professional Amateurs) who have both passion and increased access to technology, there exists the potential for great things to result from unorthodox approaches and experimentation.

There were some other issues we discussed like censorship in a production of Ragtime near Chicago, copyright infringement in an Akron production of Urinetown (the earlier case from the 90s I refer to is L! V! C! in Boca Raton- covered in NY Times, 8th paragraph down) and whether bloggers who review can be sued for defamation.

If ever you wanted to hear my voice, albeit a little distorted (my fault, mostly) or simply just want to sip at the fount of my wisdom in audio form, give it a listen.

Oh, I just also note. When co-host Staci Cobb was praising me and said “Go You!” I thought she said “Go UF” and was tweaking me as a Florida State University grad by cheering on the University of Florida. It is only as I listened to the podcast that I realized I misheard her. I am sure both hosts were a little perplexed when I joked about her razzing me.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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