behind every rumor there’s a silver cloud

Okay, so, now The Times comes in and says that the real story is that Culture Project is just moving. Um. They wouldn’t have even known about the story if we hadn’t published the buzz, probably. And secondly, I don’t buy it. I mean, CP may be moving, and sure there rent was high, but that can’t possibly be the whole story! We’ve heard too many weird rumors coming out of Culture Project over the years to think that it is just a simple question of rent.

To anybody who thinks it is, here’s another thing that’s important to know: just because it is in The New York Times doesn’t mean it is true, nor does it mean it is the whole story. Most theater people in the city have had an experience with the Times getting it wrong. Often it is small things like crediting the wrong company for a production (New Georges’ Dead City got credited to 13P) or mistakenly thinking a woman was a man (BAiT translator Jean Graham-Jones was referred to as a “he”). And usually its not a big deal – its a simple lack of fact-checking because a writer is on deadline or something, and they print a correction.

Those of us in the trenches of the NYC theater scene hear a lot of things that are difficult to verify. I once heard that a certain theater hired a bunch of homeless people to build the set for Caryl Churchill’s A Number and then didn’t pay them because the homeless don’t have bank accounts. And rumors stay rumors because everyone has to work together and play nice. That’s where the mainstream press SHOULD step up to the plate but rarely do. Because even the world of the arts is subject to influence when it comes to spin. With the right press agent, you can get anything printed in the Times, you can divert attention or minimize a story or bury it.

Anyway, we are proud of reporting what we heard about Culture Project and hope that someone does some more in depth reporting at some point. We also hope that The Times will devote some of its resources to start really looking at the business of theater in NYC. And while they’re at it, how about a really big piece about the origins of the Arts Funding structure in America and whether it is still appropriate and functional? Are non-profits still a viable model? Is it impossible to make quality commercial theater?

Can’t think. Distracted by Thanksgiving. Have a Happy Holiday!

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