Came across an article today reporting the Rhode Island legislature is considering a bill requiring that breast feeding infants be admitted to theatres for free. The impetus for the bill was a mother who told her representative that “she was required to pay an additional $75 to take her child to a show.”
I found the link to the story when I came across a debate of the story on Broadsheet. The debate is interesting to read simply because the commenters aren’t necessarily those who visit arts sites and thus offer insight into the minds of potential patrons.
And it turns out that…most of the responses are pretty much what you would find on an arts related site. Generally the responses fall into a handful of categories. Some feel that if you are going to an event costing $75, you should know that audience members will insist on having no potential disturbances at all. There is also the view that exposing babies to loud noises, foul language and adult subject matter is inappropriate.
Some feel that mothers need to escape from home from time to time and should be trusted to handle interruptions are they arise. In opposition to this view were people who said they had never considered even tempting fate and did not ever attempt to bring their children to shows. And there were a couple people who pointed out that parents increasingly seem to show bad/lack of judgement about reining in their children’s behavior.
A couple people suggested that theatres build little baby rooms like churches have. The first thing that came to mind was that I didn’t know too many venues with the flexibility to knock out seats in a place appropriate for new mothers (not up a lot of stairs). They would have to be non-prime seats with fair sightlines where the room wouldn’t obstruct other seats (and was soundproofed like nobody’s business). The second thing that occurred to me was that if you have to watch a show through a window frame with the audio piped in, you might as well be watching television for all the experience of live performance you are getting. Of course, that is a matter of an individual’s perception.
A related thought that came to mind- I was wondering if there were any venues out there that charged people for bringing “babes in arms” for any reason other than to provide an incentive to leave the child home. Other than that and insuring the child that was supposed to occupy a lap doesn’t end up in a seat you sold to someone else, I can’t think of any other reason. I imagine that there might be other reasons so I am curious to hear some.
Finally, for those who hate cell phones going off during performances, Marc-Andre Hamelin has created the “Irritation Waltz” which you can hear here courtesy of NPR. (I believe it requires RealPlayer to play.)