Up on @ This Stage, LA STAGE Alliance Executive Director Steven Leigh Morris outlines his vision for the direction of our organization and the LA theatrical community.

Before I was hired at the beginning of December by LA STAGE Alliance to run the joint, I recall hearing in the community a fairly common question: So what does LA STAGE actually do? The question was both rhetorical and slightly unfair, because it was doing a lot, from presenting the Ovations Awards (a gigantic task for such a small staff); to publishing this magazine; to running a warehouse co-op (where the community can rent props and costumes at substantially discounted rates); to compiling all kinds of data on who goes to what shows where, and why; to other services, ranging from discounted tickets to convenings and conferences — like LA STAGE Day, which brings together performance companies and individuals for collaborative learning.

Still, the reason for the question of what the organization actually does might have stemmed from some combination of crankiness by the questioners, the reluctance of the organization to articulate a cogent mission and, in light of the cutbacks in donations and grants to all arts organizations (but to service organizations in particular), there was mounting pressure simply to pay the bills. It’s not so easy to think big when you’re trying to keep the lights on…

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2 Responses

  1. Steven,
    My understanding of an ‘alliance’ is a merging of efforts or interests. Why do you tell us what the ‘vision’ is before you consult the stages that make up the so called alliance and find out what our needs are, what we would like you, as the representative of our alliance, to do. Although it seems like your agenda is already set and it involves the leap frogging of all the efforts that existing theaters have made, some of them for over thirty years, I would like to tell you what I believe our needs are on Theatre Row, at least. We need a parking facility; we need some one (you?) or some organization (LASA?) to promote our area as a theatre district, to make people, including stake holders in that area, realize the benefits of having a thriving theatre district; we need pedestrian lighting; we need more cafes and restaurants; we need more attention from the press; and I know the press has a financial problem, but financial problems are really priority problems and we have to find a way to move theatre up the priority chain so that there are more reviews and more articles about live theater. All of these things will attract more patrons, which will attract more cafes and restaurants, which will lead to the press prioritizing theater, which will lead to more breaks from the government, etc. But we have to start this process somewhere. That is why we search for leadership, that is why we would like to form a real alliance, not have an organization that calls itself an alliance, but in reality is dreaming up ways of restructuring the whole system without any regard to the many, many theatres that have been there for decades.

  2. Steven,
    I tried, unsuccessfully, to amend the above comment. My point still stands, but I apologize for the harsh tone and I applaud your efforts even though I would have liked to have been included in the process, or at least asked for my feedback before the plans were completed. Thanks.

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