How have budget cuts in the arts affected your work?
Crystal Field, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Theater for the New City: Budget cuts have forced TNC to "rent" to writers and artists whom we would have preferred to produce. We have also cut down budgets for the plays we do produce.
Aravind Enrique Adyanthaya, Writer, Director, and Founder of Casa Cruz de la Luna, presenting La Mano: Tales of the End of the World at the Fest: In our case, the cuts have mainly affected the creation of new work. In the past year, we have been mainly reworking pieces already in repertoire. Also, we are now trying to expand our reach through international touring.
Jesse Phillips-Fein, dancer and choreographer, presenting own, Owned: Studios have had to raise rehearsal rental rates, and there are fewer studios to rehearse at because many spaces have closed. It's been harder to raise individual contributions, people don't have the money to give or give as generously. And this isn't about arts funding, but the general situation in NYC—rent is so expensive, that my dancers have to less and less time to rehearse because they have to do more and more work to pay the bills.
Ardencie Hall-Karambé, Writer, Director, and Actor, presenting Ain't Nobody-A Civil Rights Musical: One thing that my company has found as a catch 22 in the funding game is that the producing organization has to show evidence of at least three years of consistent theatrical activity to even get funding, but if a company has no funding source they are unable to produce. In my case, the past three years of funding for my company has come out of my own pocket. Kaleidoscope Cultural Arts Collective is just now at a point in its existence where it can begin to apply for federal and private funding from governmental agencies and large corporations.
Steven Gridley (aka Leegrid Stevens), playwright, presenting Nine/Twelve Tapes: The end result is that there are fewer opportunities out there for emerging artists. Theaters are cutting back. Many high-profile programs still operating are swimming in applications. That's why festivals and opportunities like the Dream Up festival are so important.
Milos Sofrenovic, Serbian performance artist and director, presenting M.-Solo for Three Minds (Dialogues with Marcel Proust): Of course financial cuts in the arts have been huge in Europe recently. One of the most extreme examples at the moment is taking place in Holland. We know that through history artists have always depended on the generosity of either aristocratic families or more recently on the ability of each country's Ministry of Culture. However difficult the global financial situation is, art practice should never suffer too much, as it is a very important part, as we all know, of every single society, and a valuable document of each and every society…There are hard times, but there should never be impossible times for the arts.
Why is a festival format useful for you?
Steven Gridley: Many of us cannot afford the costs of renting a theatre and festivals are essential in my opinion to be able to test out your play.
Ardencie Hall-Karambé: So many artists have very little funding in which to get their work out there; there are not a lot of patrons waiting to give money to up-and-coming writers, lyricists, and musicians. Artists therefore often have to sacrifice a lot to get their work seen by the public in hopes of generating enough buzz to get the money people interested enough to fund their fledgling projects. Hence, festivals like this are vitally important for several reasons. They give new works and artists a venue to showcase their work on a larger scale than many of them could afford to do on their own, and they offer alternatives to theatergoers who might not be inclined to see new works because of the price of tickets.
Why was this specific opportunity exciting to you?
Jesse Phillips-Fein: It's somewhat unusual for theater venues to open themselves up to dance. I am really excited by cross-genre producing, creating a wider audience reach by bridging the gaps between theater, dance and music. It's ironic since there is a lot of hybrid and interdisciplinary work that questions the boundaries between genres. Even so, the dance world can be insular and this kind of producing breaks that open.
Milos Sofrenovis: New York still represents, in the eyes of us Europeans, an important artistic center in the world, a place where lot of fresh new ideas coming from different artistic fields can be experienced throughout the year. Therefore this is a huge honor for me—to contribute with my own work to that incredible diversity of the New York art scene.