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July 21, 2020


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My fear is that as this health crisis stretches out and the economy continues to slide, performing arts companies are going to have an increasingly difficult time raising money, especially since the timeframe of audiences returning to theaters continues to be uncertain. The more it recedes into the distance, the less critical it becomes, especially with so much focus on what's happening politically. One can hope that a change in government to a more arts-friendly administration and Congress will help somewhat.

I agree with everything you said.

The state and city governments are fully aware of the importance of Broadway and the performing arts to NYC's economy and want audiences back in the seats as soon as it is safe. I think our state and city governments are extremely arts-friendly, and it is they who are keeping the theater doors shuttered, not a less-than-friendly federal administration. Though no one has said this literally, it would seem that the state and local governments want to put the brakes on all tourism to New York while most of the other states continue to act recklessly with regard to bringing the COVID crisis under control. Cuomo's strategy to travel outside of NY to where the problems are in an effort to persuade other states of the need to act more strongly (e.g., yesterday's trip to Savannah to deliver PPE and help set up testing & contact tracing) is a smart initiative. He knows that he has a national audience because of his success in NY, and thus, suffering states in critical need of direction may be willing to listen to him. If they do, that means NY can be opened up to tourism more quickly.

The reality is that the survival of the arts and Broadway is wholly dependent on the survival and thriving of most of the rest of the economy. The arts and Broadway will bounce back after jobs, after housing, after new car sales, after the airlines, after hotels, basically after every other segment. People will have to recover a good amount of discretionary income before the arts & Broadway will see a bump. But it will happen -- hopefully during our lifetime.

Covid is not the only crisis jeopardizing the recovery of the performing arts. If the elected officials of America’s biggest cities continue to allow criminals and vandals to rule the streets the tourists will not return. I live in New Jersey and I have no intention of stepping foot in the city even if Covid is eradicated. Who wants to pay a few hundred dollars to encounter the homeless, offensive graffiti, vandals and possibly risk your life for a dinner and a show?

On another note, I see the A.D. of ABT was asleep at the wheel during the Pandemic and let Julian MacKay slip through his fingers. San Francisco gets the rising male star that ABT desperately needs.

It's certainly true that we have a new spike in violence. Da Blahs has totally let go of the steering wheel and thinks the city can drive itself.

I'm not so convinced that SFB and MacKay will be a great fit. They don't dance enough of what he dances better than most. But apparently he was seeking a principal designation, and SFB offered it. Maybe the beauty of the city will make up for any repertory shortcomings.

I really hope NYCB will get the help they need and I am just curious how NYCB didn't qualify yet I see ABT/Ballet Theatre Foundation and SFB qualified for the PPP? I guess I am not understanding well with all this PPP guidelines. Would love to understand how this works.

"America’s biggest cities continue to allow criminals and vandals to rule the streets" - this is a good example about how perception trumps (no pun) reality. The protests have largely died down, along with the vandalism that was perpetrated by a small minority. Of course, Trump's blatantly political move in sending federal troops into Portland has given demonstrators a new life, and he would love to see this happen elsewhere. Most people I talk to see this situation in NYC as a blip. New York has not suddenly flipped from being the safest large city in the country to an out-of-control center of lawlessness - it's a gross exaggeration when compared to the city's history. However, hyperbole is always more interesting than the mundane data.

Re: NYCB vs. ABT/SFB: I assume that NYCB's budget put it out of reach for the federal assistance.

Solor, we're in the midst of a spike in crime and gun violence in NYC. There's no question about it. The marauding gangs that destroyed Macy's and many other stores have disappeared, but there still is a very real uptick in gun crime. During June and July in past years, I would routinely walk home from Lincoln Center down 10th Ave after a show -- this summer I wouldn't risk it (even if there was a show to see).

While crime and violence is on the rise in NYC and other cities, reading the statement "America’s biggest cities continue to allow criminals and vandals to rule the streets." immediately irritated me. Vandals, the homeless and certainly offensive graffiti will always exist. I don't think they remotely threaten the return of the performing arts compared to the threat of Covid.

Again, hyperbole. Macy's was not destroyed. It's that kind of loose language that feeds perception. You are absolutely entited to avoid walking down 10th Avenue late at night, by the way.

Are you kidding me? Look at the pictures and tell me what you would call it -- pranking? smash & grab recreation? lite looting? Perhaps destroyed the first floor of Macy's and looted upper floors might be more acceptable?

Anyone who lived through the 70s and 80s in New York can see history repeating itself. I just hope that theater, dance, and opera companies can survive. It could be another year before they allow performances inside and it could be much longer before tourists feel confident enough to return.

Actually, dance and opera companies did better in the 70's and 80's - largely because of substantially higher subscription rates. If I recall correctly, the MET Opera had a long run of over 90% capacity. There is an enormous disparity between today's crime numbers and those of the 70s and 80s - it remains to be seen whether we reach those levels. Personally, I doubt it. And theater, which has been far more healthy than the arts in recent years, is the magnet that brings in tourism. It will be much easier for theater to recover because of the structural financial differences between an arts organization and an individual Broadway commercial production. But opinions are easy to come by.

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