What Broadway can learn from the Governmental Shutdown.

Broadway Government ShutdownEffin’ politicians.

Just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do.  Like Cats and Dogs and Jets and Sharks, these guys just can’t seem to get along.

And it just seems to be all about them . . . rather than all about us.

You made us sign this, so we’re not going to sign that, and we want to pass that, but since you didn’t pass that, well, “Nanny, nanny boo boo, stick your head in poo-poo.”

It’s childish, foolish . . . and just downright selfish.

And I thought Broadway had some dysfunction!

While we’re definitely not as bad as our elected (!) officials, we’ve had our moments, and if we don’t watch it, I wouldn’t be surprised if we were in a similar situation someday.

Because we too are faced with a challenging economic environment, and a business that needs rebuilding . . . and at times we’ve had Producers fighting with Producers and Agents fighting with General Managers who are fighting with Unions who are screaming at Producers and so on.  I want this and I want that and give me more and pay you less and I’m still mad at what you did to me on the last show!

And you know what happens when we do that?

The audience turns their back on us . . . and turns on Netflix.

Egos are in every industry.  And they are certainly having quite a revival in Washington.

But it’s imperative to remember when you’re leading an industry, it’s not about you.  It’s not about me.  It’s about them.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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  • Rich says:

    problem is when people put their own agenda above everyone else’s. One thing I learned deeply from a failed theatrical production in the past, ‘if the show does well, everyone does well.’ Simple.

    In politics we can blame this on gerrymandering, but in theater it usually comes down to egos.

  • Jodie says:

    I saw the Signature is offering free tix to furloughed gov’t employees and I posted it on my Twitter and FB…the arts taking care of Americans even though America doesn’t always take care of the arts.

  • Jodie says:

    Sorry, that comment was a bit off topic, but worth a mention on what theaters can do to help themselves and others.

  • Karen Soper says:

    Well said, Ken.

  • Miriam says:

    For example, we can look at what happened tonight at Carnegie Hall: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/10/02/strike-forces-cancellation-of-season-opening-concert-at-carnegie-hall/

    I wonder how this will affect future ticket sales, etc.

  • George says:

    The problem is that – we – got it into our heads that – we – deserve “free stuff” and we really don’t care – how – we can get it… or who ends up paying for it… because we are SPOILED ROTTEN by prosperity and “credit” (which isn’t even credit anymore, since we have no concept of paying it back.. ever!!!)

    In Shakespeare’s time, there was the concept of Fortune being a “wheel” that just keeps turning round and round… Prosperity, Greed, Avarice, War, Desolation, Poverty, Charity, Prosperity… and over again… no realy purpose or point.

    The “debate” in Washington is whether we institute another Federal program, when socialist security and medi-fraud One and Two are already bankrupt i.e. ALL the money you are paying is gone… and there isn’t enuff capital in the entire world to cover just the Baby Boomers… so why not add another program on top of it… so what if we are printing up a “trillion” faux dollars a year, now, and we call it “debt” – we know that we will never pay it back… and when that finally becomes obvious… that will be the end of the Western Credit system.

    So, in this much I do agree, the politicians in DC are simply argueing about how to get their cut before the whole roof caves in… (or do they really think they can keep printing a trillon dollars every year w/o consequences??? Yeah, I think they might be so ideological drunk on socialism, they think that money is printed and their will always be someone else to steal it from…)

    But – back to the theatre – YES. At some point all this is gonna hit home and HARD! We are completely dependent on people coming here and spending waaay more money that they woould have to spend ANYWHERE else (say Disneyworld) and this will go on, like trillion dollar deficits, forever… and the Unions seek to steal whatever it can from a production BEFORE it even has a chance to become profitable… so the ONLY thing that is still roping in Investors is that ever so slight chance of having a “Kinky Boots” or a more modest “Great Comet of 1812” it’s better than playing the lottery… but by how much???

    We are in for some VERY hard times… and there isn’t even a Historic Model for what happens to a nation when it is built on credit… and credit ceases to exist. 2008 was a taste (but we printed money to convince the LIBOR that we would eventually pay that back… but you know we won’t)

    On the otherhand, I have it from many of my Russian friends that Post Soviet Union… when cradle to grave socialism disintegrated (and they didn’t even have houses and cars and savings to lose) the Professional Govt Run Theatre, Dance and Musicians did fairly well, travelling the provinces, often time playing for “food” because – as BAD as it’s going to get – people will always want to be Entertained… even if only to be distracted for a moment from the bleakness of an “Game Over” it’s Human Nature to seek communion and Live Theatre offers a chance to experience Life together like no other distraction.

    So keep Your Power Dry

    And just ignore those politicians – our Great Men and Women running Oz – there is nothing there to watch but a bunch of socialist, secularist preachers… who are trying to steal as much as they can before the Final Bell… they know the game is over… they just hope they can squeeze another four or eight more years out of the sandbox before the Tsunami wipes the entire beach clean… again.


  • George Rady says:

    btw – forget the govt shut-down…

    The more immediate threat to Broadway was that motorcycle attack on a family in the SUV… if the local biker gangs feel that the cops are gonna be “hands-off” it will only take ONE incident in Times Square to complete scare off tourism… we’ll be back to the 70s within months, if not weeks.

    (And “rich” unarmed tourists who won’t come back to testify – even if the police are allowed to to their – is a very tempting target… for a thug mentality.)

  • Mary Jane Schaefer says:

    The squeezing is coming from so many different directions, who can keep count? And the motivations: ego, greed, cynicism. How to distinguish? And, even more importantly, how to keep our creative goals from being extinguished by the squeeze?

  • janis says:

    To the first George who posted:

    Wow! A voice of reason amid the contrived “sky is falling” faux panic of the so-called Government Shut Down. Face it, nothing life threatening or even news worthy is happening. There is, in fact a law against furloughing essential employees or halting essential programs. All this silliness is just another media attempt to attract viewers. We’re losing nothing of importance. A few employees who were NOT essential in the first place are essentially on a paid vacation because as everyone knows from past ‘shut downs,’ the congress will soon force the taxpayer to pay their salaries retroactively and their lives will go on.
    A more important question might be, “If these furloughed employees are NON-essential why am I paying their salaries in the first place? In the real world businesses do not hire non-essential employees, and if they later discover they are non-essential, they fire them.
    This whole thing only reminds me that as much as I love hiring people, I hate firing them. And if I, like any other business owner, go nuts and hire someone for that warm and fuzzy feeling or to impress another person or organization such as a campaign contributor, sooner or later I am faced with the dollars and cents of paying unneeded employees and if I want the company to survive, I must go through the cold, unfuzzy bummer of firing that same non-essential employee that I just hired. No successful company survives by employing non-essential employees. Neither will Broadway or our government survive by continuing that practice. The cost of non-essential employees is passed along to citizens and ticket holders and eventually those sources of income will dry up.

    Unions bring on a deluge of non-essentials of all kinds, and though they were a great thing in the beginning, they are out of hand and are destroying many otherwise great businesses by forcing them to base employment, not on need as determined by our companies, but on need as determined by the union.
    The sky is falling gang cries, “arts programs will suffer, some may even close.” I hate to see any arts project close , but far too many artists are grant dependent in the first place. They have forgotten their audience and no artist with any respect for the individuals who purchase their art should ever depend on grants in the first place. It’s time everyone puts the audience first and remembers that there is a limit to what any individual will pay for arts as entertainment. Elimination of grants will empower me, the individual, to determine what I view as art and to support it with my cash. No one in any field should allow a gang of elected and appointed officials to determine their future anyway.
    And ken I love ya,’ but our “elected!” Officials are not supposed to get along. They are supposed to represent the differing views of their constituents. They are supposed to debate and argue and not all fall in line with whatever is on TV that day. Most seem to have forgotten that, but it’s the only way we can ever again have the government of the people, by the people and for the people intended by our founding fathers.

  • George Rady says:

    Point made – but I am conflating the Govt Shutown with the Debt Ceiling – that is coming around it a couple of weeks… and it looks like they are gonna drag this short-term bump into that chasm…

    And that’s where it gets really serious…

    If you made a dollar a minute it would take you 32 days to make a million dollars… but we are not paying attention to the dynamics of the numbers (because million rhymes with billion rhymes with trillion) but it would take you 32 YEARS to become a “billionaire” if you made a dollar a minutes… you wanna guess how long it would take to become a “trillionaire” – 32,000 years.

    And if you don’t think that spending more than a trillion dollars a year is INSANELY dangerous, already being the hole by 17 trillion… according to LIBOR there are really only about 50 trillion “dollars” in all the financial insitituions… in the entire world… while just covering the Baby Boomers social security and medicare at current rates is – most conservatively – guesstimated at $65 trillion…

    That’s the problem with Debt – like cocaine – it’s not really a problem… until it’s a PROBLEM and by then… it’s too late.

    And it’s already too late….

    So, as I’ve advocated before, party-hearty and enjoy the feast while there is still food on the table… the Fast is comin’ like the Winter in “A Song of Fire and Ice”


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