Like a pilot spiraling out of the sky...
Ian Hill has some great answers to the seven questions below on his site, www.collisionwork.livejournal.com . Ian, besides being a fine director, is one of the unsung heroes of the New York Fringe. We broke on him and Art Wallace like a tidal wave that summer of 97 and they held fast, the Warriors of Todo con Nada, Defenders of Ludlow Street. Unthinkable to me that the festival is now ten years old, with all that has changed and, sadly, all that hasn't.
George Hunka, www.ghunka.com has me as a "recent veteran of the downtown world". The Times of London dubbed me a "veteran of the Fringe" last summer, so let me run with this. Imagine me sitting here in a bunker, grizzled and smoking a Lucky Strike, mad glint in the eye, tight-lipped, left cheek twitching... the horror...
"Tell us about the battle of Charas, Captain Scrappy, or the seige of Stanton Street the long winter of 99..."
No, no war stories. Not on May Day. How about a battle plan.
I believe we are losing a war of attrition here in New York. I believe we have to find a way, together, to preserve and strengthen the Off-Off or indie environment. We have to work collectively, defining common goals and achieving common objectives. I've already written about this in a previous post and others have been talking and writing about it as well. It's not that complicated or radical an idea. We are a strong, creative, large, diverse community. We work in substandard conditions for little to no financial reward. We have no plan to change this. No one outside our community has any reason to change these conditions. Why would a realtor or an audience member or a journalist or an Off-Broadway producer or a politician or a philanthropist or anyone outside our community want to change our conditions? Either we're working to their advantage or they just don't care. Either they're happy with the way it works or we haven't made a coherent argument.
Mayday. Who are we calling to? Who's going to come?
It's just us, folks. So we stay here, accept our conditions and go on with our individual projects and paths and wish each other the best or we work together to improve our collective lot. No one is going to change this but us.
What do we do?
1. Organize. Form the League of Independent Producers with the mission to advocate for and increase communication between the producers, presenters, companies, venue operators and service organizations of the Off-Off or indie industry. By acting collectively we act with clarity, efficiency and clout.
2. Mobilize. Define the concrete advancements and objectives that will improve the community's condition and begin working towards these goals. Rent subsidies, contract negotiations, increased visibility, we all know this list.
3. Realize. That we are strong. That we are vital to the cultural life of the city and the nation. That if we don't act, no one will. That there is a historical window that for whatever reason is open right now and that it will close if we don't jump through it.
This is Captain Jack, veteran of the Clemente Soto Velez campaign, signing off.