June 22, 2009

The Irish Times picks up on Theatre Forum’s Annual Conference in Wexford 10 days ago. I’m quoted liberally as inviting the Irish theatre community to reflect on the ‘good times’. The points I tried to make on the panel discussion were:
When I think of crisis I think of world poverty, famine, terrorism etc – I think applying the word crisis to the economic downturn (particularly as it relates to the arts community) may be a bit of an exaggeration. If a reduction in state funding is a crisis then the sector is operating under the assumption that there’s a form of stability at work which only gets ‘more stable’ rather than less. That’s an illusion – change is the default, not stability – so what’s going on that we’re surprised?
Complacency and satisfaction are not good bedfellows for the creative impulse. All creativity needs a boundary or limitations – how else can difference and newness be created? I asked the Irish theatre community to reflect on what the great artistic projects of the past 15 years have been and in several follow up conversations with colleagues later in the day we were hard pressed to think of examples. I excluded buildings from the mix.
And speaking of buildings – property developers have been widely criticised for our economic gloom – yet the Irish arts community has willingly embraced its own inner property developer – the proliferation of capital development throughout Ireland in the past 15 years was unrivalled with little attention paid in a lot of cases to ongoing running costs, audiences or the availability of work for presentation – what then of our own contribution to the current crisis?
So rather than crisis I think in terms of disruption or disturbance – and the opportunity contained therein for reflection and redirection.