NACL sewing seeds for sustainable theatre
Finding their survival threatened by government funding cuts, economic recession, and digital media competition, theatres nationwide are trading in outdated funding models for democratized initiatives like crowd funding kickstarter.com campaigns and CSAs that invite audiences to play a more direct role.
Based on the community supported agriculture model of farming in which individuals and families purchase a share of a grower’s ongoing seasonal harvests, CSAs raise seed funds for a series of art works. Most of the CSAs currently in practice are based in the context of visual arts. Based in St. Paul, Minnesota, Springboard for the Arts has extended its initial CSA initiatives to Detroit and Fargo. The Knight Foundation for the Arts is launching similar programs in Miami, Macon, Philadelphia, Akron, Charlotte and San Jose. And with the 45-page replication kits that Springboard for the Arts ($45) has made available, we can surely expect to see more CSAs popping up around the country in the next couple of years.
In theater, a CSA is a lot like yesterday’s season ticket subscription, but packaged in the sexier modern language of buying local to support the sustainable creation of innovative new works crafted especially with and for a community.
“Art feeds the soul. It attracts reactive people, increases business and property values, and spawns a domino effect of energy that engages a younger generation,” NACL artistic director Tannis Kowalchuk offered in a release for the Highland Lake, NY-based theatre company’s 12th season.
“Art and artists are essential in creating sustainable and vibrant communities. And, like any local business that contributes a unique service to the local economy, the support of residents both full and part time is essential. In this case the slogan ‘buy local,’ also refers to local art,” she continued.
Beyond the experimental, physical theater for which the NACL (or North American Cultural Laboratory) is best-known, the new season also offers genre-defying happenings with farm to table meals included, family shows, visual art, film, and world premiere production. Each CSArts membership — $150 per individual or $300 per family — is good for a season to pass to all 14 of the NACL’s events scheduled May 26 through Nov. 17. Individual performance tickets will be offered to each event on a sliding scale basis ($12-25) for those not able to ready to make the full investment.
NACL’s schedule is in itself is an innovation. At least half of its programming features the work of guest artists who often present a project in the company’s flexible space — a renovated church — after a “Deep Space Performance Residency” on the NACL’s lush Catskill grounds. Most productions are one-show only opportunities with an invitation to attend a group meal after the performance.
Visit www.nacl.org to see a full schedule with program descriptions or call (845) 557-0694 for more information.