Interview: How PS122 Is Going Global 

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There was an article in the Village Voice back in 2005, right before you started, where you were quoted as saying that you just have to "experiment harder" when faced with challenges surrounding funding and attendance at arts venues. I know of a fair number of grants being handed out to help artists explore new business models, but there seems to be less discussion around venues and producers finding new business models. And it seems like you're really trying to shift the PS122 business model.
We've changed our whole budgeting model. We now pay performance fees based on headcounts and we are trying to create a context where no one is working in our theater unless they're being paid a living wage, which is not something we can do right now, but we're working on it, and we're taking that argument to funders. We're asking the artists to ask us for more money. We're reducing the amount that we do every year by about 10% in order to resource that stuff better. So we're trying to do less with more.

In the past PS122 has served as a venue that can be rented by outside groups, but primarily as a presenter—working with artists who produce their work in your space. Which, for those unfamiliar with that term, essentially means that the artists build their shows on their own, develop and rehearse them somewhere else, then they bring the finished shows to PS122 to present.
We're a presenter, but we're kind of highly interventionist. So our services and our raft of offers is much greater than a regional presenter, let's say, where we'd be booking in shows for three nights and then sending them on their way. We work with most emerging artists for three or four shows over four or five years. And we commit to that in advance.

You do?
Yeah, it's more of a handshake, but yeah. And not with everybody, with some people. It means that they can fail and we're still there in the morning. It means they can take more risk, and it means that as they go through the systems, building their show for us multiple times, that as they get better at it and we get better at talking to them, the shows get better.

And now PS122 Global is a whole new extension of the space and the notion of presenting. So that is about everything we've been talking about. It's about getting people interested in what's happening here if they can't access it. New York is this incredible brand, PS122 is an incredible brand globally. For us the advantage is that we increase our stature globally, we also increase the value that we offer artists that we work with. I mean, one of the things that we want to be able to say at some point is that we can offer artists this bundle of work. Our hope in the medium-term is that we're able to fundraise and to subsidize the cost of the travel and to put the shows on equal footing with artists coming out of Europe or Singapore or South Korea or Australia, where the travel and some of the expenses are covered. In a very raw, capitalist way, we're at a competitive disadvantage and we need to address that.

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