Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Day Without Art?

I'd like to call your attention to this article in today's New York Times, entitled "Who'll stop the ring tones," about the third annual "No Music Day" in the UK this coming Wednesday, invented and promoted by Bill Drummond.
Though it's unrelated, it made me think about the World AIDS Day December 1st "Day Without Art" in the U.S. to commemorate the many artists lost to AIDS. Though noble in intent, this is something that I never quite bought into as the best way to contribute to public awareness of AIDS or to generate funds for AIDS research and victims. One particular LA Times reporter tried to beat up on the Laguna Playhouse when we said we were not cancelling performances on the "Day Without Art," but were providing literature about AIDS and conducting an event to raise funds; we could only satisfy her if we closed down for the day, and we never believed that was in the best interests of anyone. Today, "Day Without Art" is still observed by some arts organizations, with museums hanging black cloth over sculptures and paintings as a sign of mourning and respect. For me, I think Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has the right idea--for a set period of time, they pitch the audience during their curtain calls and then the cast members (including major starts) stand at the exits to collect any donations people are willing to make.
The show must go on, and it's sad that many friends and loved ones did not survive this disease to be on stage and behind the scenes, but I am quite certain that this is how they would prefer their memories to be honored.
Until next time...


Bob Stein said...

I don't agree with the eficacy of having actors hawk contributions...and I find it annoying (even though it makes actors feel good and maybe expiates their guilt). It takes away from the theater experience, de-mystifies the actors to the audience and takes away from the aura of walking away from the play in thought and discussion. I also am not fond of Salvation Army Santa Clauses at the entrance of the coffee bar below my office. Even Salvation Army is reconsidering the bell and the bucket--in a 11/13 article on the KEYE TV (a CBS Affiliate in Austin) website, the Salvation Army is now finding innovative ways to raise money on-line. Let's face it, while it's not the best way to cultivate relationships with donors, on-line fundraising is preferred by donors and more gentile than shoving a bucket in front of people's faces.

Rick Stein said...

While I share your distate for the Broadway Cares approach, I still think its preferable to some purely symbolic closing down of all art for one day each year so that we can all feel good about ourselves.