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Good ideas and good beginnings

Well that was a very long week.

Last week began at 6am Monday morning, not a common time to be awake and alert for yours truly, and ran through until 11PM Saturday night. But Orestes is open and finding it’s footing and I only owe something like 350 more favors to people at the end of then week than I did at the beginning.

The week culminated in one of my best ideas in a bad situation in a long time: Actor Benefit Night.

The City of Austin like other cities is having a spot of financial trouble (you may have heard). One of the City’s responses was to freeze a major funding program for us – their Auxiliary Program funding, which grants small sums to groups on a rolling basis throughout the year. Our actor stipends for Orestes were to come through this program and so needed to be stripped from the budget when we lost that half of our guaranteed funding.

We very much want to pay all of our people. It may not be enough, it may not reflect their talent or achievement, but something.  So: Actor Benefit Night. A publicized event evening with every dime going to the (non-company-member) cast. The community gets an opportunity to directly support each other and maybe the cast can recoup half of gas/fast food money from the rehearsal process. It was moderately successful. Not successful enough that I’m going to brag here about how much that they’re going to receive, but enough that I won’t have to pay them out of pocket.

As proud as I am of the idea and it’s (moderate) effectiveness, there are two things about the night that still rankle.

  1. There was a palpable enjoyment on the part of some of the audience that it was going to the cast instead of the company.

    Parse that properly please. I’m all for gleefully giving to the cast. This cast especially. But check your attitudes at the door. Having a name for our company doesn’t make us Starbucks. You aren’t sticking it to the man, you’re receiving a night to give to a different underdog. That show comes out of our pockets, and we’re not trust fund babies. We’re a coupla guys with admin jobs who create opportunities for artists instead of taking vacations.

  2. There was a throwaway comment post-show on Saturday about another company in town that pays well on every show being “all class”. It wasn’t meant as a slight and the company mentioned is 100% class, but it hurt.

    We’re going to lose money on this show. My first producer loss ever. Not much I’m sure, we’re not idiots, but a loss nonetheless. That’s not some phantom corporate cash. That’s our money. Our personal money. Mind you there are no regrets, and I’m not looking for sympathy. I choose to spend my money this way, and losing a week or two’s pay on a show hurts my pride not my dinner table, but the idea that not being able to afford an additional $2000 means we’re not a class organization really hurts.

So there’s that.

Morose foot-stomping aside, folks you really do need to see this show. Gabriel Luna is a force of nature and he is surrounded by a group of performers eager to push back. There is a storm brewing down there on Hidalgo Street and you’re going to be sorry you missed it.

EDITED TO ADD:

Don’t post during sugar crash after a very long tech week.

The second half of the above post is a whine and casts its participants in an unfair light. I leave it up because I deserve to take my lumps for it. I didn’t adequately draw out that the commenter in #2 wasn’t intending offense or making a direct comparison, and that the entire thought process was on my end. I take great personal pride in the fact that I’ve never lost money on a show and I’m about to. So I’m taking all money talk a bit more personally than I normally would.

My apologies for the lack of clarity in this post, the oversensitivity and the whine. We return to your regularly scheduled upbeat community building tomorrow.