Could THIS mean more kids getting into theater?

Ok, bear with me.  I’m getting my Freakonomics on.

Freakonomics was a book published by “rogue economists” Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner who discovered the hidden reasons why things were the way they are.  And their hypotheses are shocking . . . like the relationship between the drop in crime and the legalization of abortion or how Real Estate Agents are like the KKK . . . and so on.

Their finds are out there, but they make you think.

I’m going to do my best PRE impersonation of The Stephens by giving you an idea of something happening right now . . . that could have an effect on our biz way down the timeline.

What is it?

Football.

Or actually, the lack of football.

According to this article, high school football participation rates “have declined nationwide in six of the last seven years and are down 2.5% overall since 2008-2009.”

I’m sure you’re not surprised. We live in the “health and safety” era.  We worry about what we eat.  We worry about how pure our bottled water is.  So of course we worry about putting our kids in some pads and a plastic helmet when a coach tells them, “Run into that other guy . . . really fast.”

And the tipping point for a dramatic drop in that participation may be last year’s movie, Concussion.

So all those dudes . . . with no place to go.

Surely some will go to other sports like soccer and golf (whose participation levels were up last year), but there’s also a chance that we can pull a High School Musical on some of these males, and get them into the theater . . . or anywhere in the arts.

If I were a high school drama teacher or an arts educator, or heck the dang NEA, I’d be looking for ways to promote what we do to all those kids and parents who may be looking for a safer extra curricular. A spotlight beats friday night lights any day.

(And I actually bet the chances of having a successful career as an actor are better than the chances of having a successful career as a football player!)

Check back in with this blog in 10 years to see if I was right. 🙂

 

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Comments
  • Frank says:

    I was really hoping you were going to respond to the Spring Awakening hullabaloo today.

  • Kristopher Weaver says:

    This blog post answers the prayers of my youth!
    Let’s “Glee” this generation! 🙂

  • Bill Rough says:

    Great post! Just got thru writing about The Crucible on my own site, in the context of attending with an old high school student of mine who once played the Rev. Hale. Now 57, he attributes his highly successful career as a trial lawyer to the theater experience I practically forced upon him as an alternative to jail. Take a look at my comments on the current production on my website, and his response to seeing it again together. Brought more than a tear to my eye, and may to yours too. Thanks for your continuing focus on drama education, Ken. Let’s keep up the pressure in a time of slashing budgets for what counts, all over again.

  • Meg says:

    Great post — love the Freakonomics angle. But I have to respectfully disagree. Football is still a widely publicized, well-funded program at plenty of schools, whereas arts education has been cut mercilessly for a host of reasons. It is only recently that the arts have been restored to core education requirements, in the Every Student Succeeds Act (STEM –> STEAM). While the fear of sports-related injuries might convince some families to pursue activities other than football, I think the real shift for students will be that there is now some funding for, and overall better access to, theater and other arts programs in schools.

  • gurumanjohn says:

    Ken – Interesting prediction. But have you considered the unintended consequences? Right now, the unemployment rate of actors according to Actor’s Equity is 97%. And MFA programs are turning out 5,000 new playwrights, directors and dramaturgs every year. They are all headed for jobs as waiters, cab drivers and who knows what. I have many close friends who are good working actors. You would recognize the names of most. Yet even these folks struggle to feed their families from their acting careers.

    We certainly don’t want to prevent new blood from entering the industry. But we should carefully consider promoting a flood of new recruits by creating false expectations. What need — and what people like you need to do — is create more paying opportunities in theater. Right now, the economics of the commercial AND the non-profit theater business are choking opportunity. Salaries of $500,000 for Artistic Directors and the load-in cost for a tiny production off-broadway exceeding $50,000, just to name a couple of items, are destroying job opportunities.

    As someone once said, “Be careful what you wish for.”

    Keep up the good work.

  • RICK says:

    Wow!…As a drama/HS teacher over the years…I agree…I tell the kids…Know your DNA from parents, grandparents and discover your talents and skills…Go out and make it happen!…Always have the back up plan…Hence the broken dreams, legs, and concussions…Like your great grandfather Del Davenport, …Davenport Theater, …you have some great talents Ken…Bravo dude!
    ……I like this …
    …..”If I were a high school drama teacher or an arts educator, or heck the dang NEA, I’d be looking for ways to promote what we do to all those kids and parents who may be looking for a safer extra curricular. A spotlight beats Friday night lights any day.

    (And I actually bet the chances of having a successful career as an actor are better than the chances of having a successful career as a football player!)
    ……..Thanks Ken!

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