State of the Artists Survey

by August Schulenburg

in Events

Last night, HERE Arts Center hosted a town hall (and live streamed it!) as part of our Town Hall series, joining theatres like Jobsite Theater, New Georges, Playwrights Horizons and Westport Country Playhouse in advancing the conversation surrounding the Artist-Institution relationship.

Now we’re taking the next step of our Field Conversations by soliciting the opinions of theatre artists directly through the TCG State of the Artists Survey.

We want to know how artists feel about their careers, and ways they would like to see the field change to better meet their needs. The information gathered in this important pilot survey will inform TCG as we review our current programs and services and develop new ones that address artists’ concerns. The results of the survey will be incorporated into the Field Conversations report which will be circulated throughout the field, and the accompanying Field Conversations article to be published in the July/August issue of American Theatre.

The deadline to complete the survey is February 24, 2011. It will take about 15 minutes to complete. All responses will be kept completely confidential, but it is our intent to compile data from this survey and include it in a report to be widely distributed. Click here to take the survey, (NOTE: this survey is now closed), and then post it, tweet it, and email it to other artists so we have as many voices at the table as possible.

Any technical difficulties should be directed to Jason Kosakow at 301.656.0310 x107 or Thank you in advance for your assistance!

  • Johnpyka

    As a theater entrepeneur, I am very interested to see the results of the survey.
    John B. Pyka

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  • Prospero7714

    The paradigm reflected in the questions and selections in this survey are exhausted.

    The subsidized theater in this country is housed in public colleges and universities. There are what, about 600+ TCG member institutions. There are more than 2000 publicly held theaters on college and university campuses, staffed by trained working theater artists who are government employees. That is the true foundation of our national theater. The people the professional teaching artists producing theater in a state college setting like Chadron Nebraska are doing work that is as vital and important as any work in a LORT theater, and probably doing more to genuinely advance the field than the large, elitist, urban based producing organizations, organizations threatened by the current climate. The survey distinctions between free lance theater artists working largely in not for profit organizations and “academic theater” reflect and organizational bias essential to TCG’s current configuration and don’t accurately reflect the “soup” of practice.

  • Jeff

    You left out one possible reason for not joining TCG: “TCG does not seem to respect what I do (Lighting Design) as an art.

  • August Schulenburg


    Thanks for your feedback! Was there something specific about the survey you felt showed a lack of respect for designers? We did include Designer as one of the surveyed disciplines. Please let us know if there’s a way we can improve future surveys.

    Your ideas seem like they might be a good fit for one of our upcoming 2011 Whatifestos for our National Conference. If you’re interested, you can learn more about them here:

  • Jeffrey E. Salzberg

    Nothing (that I remember) specifically in the survey, but TCG in general tends to lump designers in with technicians, which is disrespectful to both.

    Look, for example, at ArtSEARCH, which has a combined category entitled, “Production/Design,” instead of including designers under “Artistic” (which category includes several jobs whose creative contribution to a production is less than that of a designer).

    …Or look at “American Theatre,” which rarely contains any significant amount of material which would indicate to the casual reader that there is more to the art form than acting, directing, and playwriting.

    Few people have more respect for technicians than I do (indeed, any design who does not admit that his/her work has been saved more than once by technicians is either very new to professional theatre or is lying), and that level of respect mandates that one understands the difference between two
    different, no matter how closely aligned, disciplines.

    After all, I’d be willing to bet that the building in which TCG has its headquarters was not designed and built by a combined architect/plumber.

  • August Schulenburg

    Thanks for writing back, Jeffrey. I remember that we discussed some of these issues back on the TCG Facebook page back in August of 2010. Our ARTSEARCH team tries to make searching for a job as easy as possible, and to that end, combined Production/Design jobs into one category. The goal was not to imply that either Production or Design jobs were not artistic, but to create an easy to navigate system where a job seeker might find more of what they’re looking for in the same category. That said, I will pass this on again so that it stays on the table as we move forward in future ARTSEARCH iterations.

    At that time I passed on your concerns about AMERICAN THEATRE’s coverage, and in the January issue 2011, we ran this article about design training: We also have a profile of designer David Gallo upcoming in the March or April issue, and at least one more designer profile coming out this year.

    In addition to the above, we continue to offer the NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Designers, and have awarded A-Ha! grants to two institutions exploring sustainability in design.

    Thank you again for your feedback – perhaps there is something we could do on the TCG Circle to spotlight design? Let me know what else we can do.

  • Jeffrey E. Salzberg

    “Our ARTSEARCH team tries to make searching for a job as easy as possible”

    I see no logic in that. Designers are artists, and think of themselves as such. Putting their listings in a category with which they do not instinctively identify makes it less easy, not more. Technicians have to wade through the design listings, which makes it less easy for them, too.

    To return to my earlier analogy, you could just as easily include architects with plumbers and claim that, somehow, that makes it easier, despite the fact that neither identifies as the other.

    With all due respect, I suspect that the only people for whom the current system is easier are those programmers and editors who would have to implement the change.

    Thanks for the heads-up about American Theatre’s improved coverage of designers; I’ll start reading it more often.