…especially if you are watering his grass

The title of today’s entry is something of an addendum to the “grass is always greener…” saying. Today I found myself watering my neighbor’s lawn as I wrote a letter of support for a grant application.

The artist in residence for my theatre is the artistic director of a contemporary dance company We will be developing a new dance work for 2006 based on a Hawaiian myth. Right now he is applying for a Rockefeller Foundation grant to help underwrite the development of the piece. As one of the organizations involved with the work, I was asked to write a letter of support.

I spent about 4 hours on this letter polishing and honing it to sing the praises of the group with which I was going to partner. At around hour 3 I realized, much to my chagrin, that I had spent more time discussing the value of the dance company’s work in terms that were aligned with the foundation’s goals than I did on the last grant I wrote.

I don’t know if it was because I had a little more time to write than I did when my last grant application was due (and I didn’t have the budgetary questions looming ahead of me) or because as an outsider who doesn’t know all organizational flaws the dance company has it was easier to be effusive. Or maybe it just feels less sincere when you are writing about all the ambitious plans you have while there is a voice in your head that wonders whether you actually have the organizational capacity to pull it off.

On the flipside though, even though the money won’t go to me directly, I will benefit if the company receives the grant because I have a greater assurance that the show will be good if they aren’t focussed on fundraising.

And I will say one thing–this guy is good about lining up support early. In his playbill this past weekend, he had a flyer soliciting funds for the development of this piece two seasons hence, perhaps at the expense of his upcoming seasons.

Search for More Theatre Blogs

I have really been looking high and low for more people who blog about their experiences in theatre. I haven’t been terribly successful, but I will admit, the signs look promising. People seem to be realizing the potential for the blogs.

For example, a Google search found this nascent blog for The Playmill Theatre in Montana. You can’t actually get to the blogs from the theatre’s homepage. In fact, the home page itself is rather undeveloped at the moment. It just goes to show though that someone was thinking and wanted to get the cast and director (and perhaps the community) writing about their experiences.

I also found a very short, sparse attempt at a production blog for Aristophanes’ Acharnians.

The British seem to be doing the best job of blogging about their lives in the theatre. In addition to My London Life which I cited in an earlier entry, I have found yet another British director faithfully chronicling his experiences running his own company. (Yeah, I know, I could be doing more of the same myself. I suppose you all want to hear about my shopping trips to buy cases of water and soda for performers, eh?)

I also found a culture blog by a Brit who is something of a Terry Teachout of England (though not as prolific an author/journalist/everything)

I was very happy to see that a theatre in San Francisco was taking the idea of bloggers as the new critics to heart and offering free tickets to bloggers with a fairly significant daily readership who agreed to write a review within 24 hours. May have to follow up with them to see how well it worked.

I also found a blog in Portland, OR that does nothing but list upcoming shows and provide links to many of the local theatres. One might think that this might be useless since the local paper prints essentially the same information. And that may be so. However, the format for the listings are so simple that it is very easy to log on one Friday night and scroll back through a page or so to find out what is going on–or follow the link to a favorite performance group to find out what in particular they are currently doing.

More to come…let me know if you have a favorite arts blog out there that has gone unmentioned by me.

Downside of Block Booking

Those of you who have been reading since October may be aware that I belong to a block booking consortium (some previous entries here and here)

Last Monday we had the longest meeting to date trying to hammer out schedules for performers. Near the end, one of the newer members asked if it was always this difficult to resolve the scheduling. Some of the other members said this was the worst because there were now more members than ever before and their organizations were becoming more ambitious and doing more performances.

For me, however, I somehow emerged worse off than I entered. I had come in expecting to make final arrangements for 7 groups and then having to contract another 3-4 on my own. Somehow I walked out with only 5 groups and the prospect of scheduling 5-6 more on my own.

What happened was this-my consortium and another consortium, the Hawaii Arts and Music Soceity, hold joint meetings because of the 90% overlap of membership. Since they tend to do a lot of classical, early music and opera, I am not a member. Most of the other big presenters hold dual membership and with more people wanting to do more, they easily filled their schedule and as a result decided to postpone presenting two of the people I wanted.

This actually might turn out for the best because I am thinking that instead of trying to make up the difference with acts whose airfare from the mainland I might have to do pay, I might look into putting together some sort of interesting programs with local performers. The Knight Foundation article I quoted last week mentioning the San Diego Symphony’s “Can Classical Music Be Fun” program got me to thinking that perhaps I could talk to the symphony or ballet about putting together an interactive/fun program to be presented on this side of the island. Who knows, perhaps it will grow into an annual event or lead to further partnerships.

Watching Me Watching You Watching Me..erm

So I was checking my visitor stats for January. The report only shows the IP addresses of people who visited, but it does give me links to websites through which people clicked through to find me.

Turns out that people have been linking to me via the blogs maintained by a paid arts blogger, I reported on in an earlier post. The blog entries in question come from Worker Bees Blog and 42nd St. Moon.

In the former blog, she talks about the importance of monitoring your statistics and how she can now track my blog and my references to her. I imagine we will now do a humorous little turn at watching each other watch each other.

In the latter entry, she mentions how 42nd St Moon is becoming powerful at leveraging blogs. This is quite true because by visiting that entry, I then clicked through to the other related blogs, one of which is focussed on the benefit of technology to arts organizations.

Given that this whole series of events was predicated on my search for other arts blogs beyond artsjournal.com, I am starting to look at my whole effort at blogging as something of a success which is gaining momentum.

Since the December holiday season I have gotten email from people whose nieces have turned them on to my blog and from an administrator at the National Dance Project because someone brought my comments to their attention.

Makes me realize that there are a lot more people intentionally visiting the website than I realized. The web stats report tells you what keywords people used in search engines to find your website. My only comment is to look at the first word in my blog’s name. I will let you infer some of the bizarre search terms people are using from that.