NYC’s segregated arts societies and what we can do about it.

I went to a fashion event this evening.  In addition to seeing a Real Housewife of New York, a dude sportin’ a handlebar mustache and Kyle MacLachlan, I realized something . . .

I don’t know anyone from the fashion industry.

Come to think of it, I don’t really know anyone in NYC’s film community either.  Or TV for that matter.

Yet all of these people work, live and socialize just a few blocks away from where I work, live and socialize.

So why does it feel like all the arts sectors in NYC are on different planets?  Seriously, why does walking through the fashion district feel like I’m on Mars (it may be because of the 6’4″ women I always see clutching a portfolio wishing it was a lunch box).

Sure, our unique art forms require unique talents, so crossover is hard.  But not impossible.

Remember that scene from The Godfather where Don Corleone brought the heads of the families to AC for a big sit down to work out their differences?  Maybe we should do the same every six months or so . . . and get the big players from the big entertainment industries together in a room to figure out what we could do to together.

The scene in The Godfather ended with a hit on a few of the bosses.

I have a feeling a meeting like the one I’m proposing would be a hit of a different kind.

Do you have an idea on how we can unite our industries?


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  • Amyleigh1982 says:

    Project Runway: the Musical with an all-celebrity socialite cast??

  • Aubrie says:

    Agreed! With so much opportunity to learn from each other, why aren’t we taking advantage of living in such close proximity? NYC is teeming with different entertainment (and other) industries… I smell a networking event coming on!

  • Russell says:

    ….create art that unites the industries.

  • d.p. quinn says:

    ArtsPRunlimited, Inc., has devoted all of its recent work to bridging the gap between Fine Arts and Theatre; Classical and Popular Music and Dance as well/
    We have also held Artists chats for colleagues of all these disciplines to meet, talk or collaborate on various projects and productions in various venues. These have included Museums, Cafes, Theatres, Galleries and industrial spaces , including a former locomotive factory from the 1840;s in Paterson, NJ.

  • Maury says:

    Great idea, Ken! I’ve been in the fashion industry for many years…. now I’m trying to break into the Off Broadway world. It would be wonderful if there were some way to make the transition!

  • Linda says:

    I find the best way to begin anything is to first spend time just watching and listening. One great way to heighten your own awareness about another industry is to add lots of tweeters from that industry into your twitter feed. You’ll get to know the names, the events, the buzz, and hear from all sorts of industry participants. Once you find the ones who are really sending out thoughtful messages, you can begin to reach out to them and be a part of the conversation.

  • Mary says:

    The ways that its done in other industries is that people have conferences–like for the federal government on IT or change management, people learn, network, hang out, get to know each other. So for example if you are at FBI you could call something from SEC with a problem. Or you have a committee for a charity or a municipal issue that people share.(a shared public good) One thing, though, is that folks have to put down the phones, the e-mail, walk out of the office and see other people. A challenge nowadays. I recently walked around the university where my sister teaches and ask her does anyone in one department ever speak to the ones in another department? I think you know the answer. Is that intellectually profitable?

  • Rick Knight says:

    This is what has been on my mind as I develop my musical. Although I wouldn’t mind it being licensed and replicated all over the world in different languages, I’d much rather see the characters serialized on TV (HBO, perhaps) in something both edgy and fun, that’s comical at times and dramatic at others, sort of a “Sex in the City” meets “Glee” with some metaphysical “Six Feet Under” moments. Trying to re-build the bridge between Broadway and The Billboard Charts is keeping me busy enough at the moment. But your point is well taken. Particularly in this economy, there’s strength in numbers and working together might make a more formidable production. What’s going to keep the fashion folks from rolling their eyes at Broadway types with their seemingly medication-induced happy feet as much as we roll our eyes at their rather peculiar fashion statements? There in lies the rub (or the hit). What we’re lacking (present company excluded) is the leading/organizing component. It would be a lot of non-creative, possibly non-compensated work to make it happen. And in this maniacal little brand of capitalism we’ve whipped up over the last half century or so, the WIIFM* quotient tends to be exorbitantly high.
    *What’s In It For Me

  • Mitch Kess says:

    Simple. Host a series of parties where you invite models to meet film and theater people. Producers and actors will come out to meet models. Models and their reps wills work the room for opportunities. Keep doing it. Something is bound to happen. Make sure you invite me.

  • Andy says:

    I feel like this is a question someone in the non-profit sector would ask…. are you sure your in the right part of theater?

  • Norm Hull says:

    What unites most people and groups? A common cause that touches something within. The groups you are looking at bring together have something in common- in a lot of cases they were probably ostracized for their PASSION- ” you want to be an actor?”or perhaps they heard “you are too short to be a model” and maybe ” that is good but no one will buy that music”- they have overcome the naysayers and connected with their passion. They were the outsiders because they had a dream that did not fit what others thought. I think creating an event where you recognize that passion and provide a way to support the budding efforts of others to tap into their dreams would be an attractive reason to join others. I work with dreamers all the time- and they do come true. You are targeting a group that has made theirs come true.

  • Hi, Ken,
    That’s just what we’re working on with this year’s Innovators Forum: All our panelists will be from OUTSIDE the theatre industry: luxury goods, leading brands, a coach, a recruiter, cutting edge team builders. I totally agree with your point! Stay tuned for October 4!

  • Greg says:

    How did you forget opera? Probably the closest thing to musical theatre. Lots to learn from each other and I know because I’ve worked extensively in both worlds both as a lighting designer and a production manager.

  • Jane says:

    I think you’re right about the Godfather pow-wow… I should think there’s a fair amount of overlap among theatre-goers, fashion-buyers, film-makers, et al. And it’s not as if most customers would buy only one thing, right? They buy the dress and then they go to the theatre. The purchases are complementary, not competitive. If you organize the pow-pow, may I come? (I’m a playwright who teaches at LIM College… where business meets fashion.)

  • Cat says:

    The WAM Coalition has been working on just these issues for over 20 years. Women in Arts & Media Coalition is a “group of groups” with members from SAG, AEA, SDC, AFTRA, Dramatists Guild, League of Prof Theatre Women, NY Women in Film & Television, Writers Guild and associate members from journalism, dance and film. We do events and sponsor awards that encourage collaboration between the industries. And yes, men are welcome, too!
    Cat Parker
    Co-President, WAM Coalition

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