“So we went around asking people, ‘If I started a company next year which would do live theatre and it has to be profitable, does it make sense?’ And unfortunately, or fortunately, the answer which everybody gave us in the world was ‘no’.”
So shares Sunil Vishnu K, founder and artistic director of EVAM, a theatre company in Chennai, India in his I AM THEATRE video. The theatre company that nobody gave a chance has now produced 50 plays since 2003 and employs 15 theatre people.
In our current political climate, much has been made of the Rising Elephant and Dragon of India and China, usually in competitive economic terms that verge on the apocalyptic. Culture, however, is not a zero-sum game, and the growth of artist-entrepreneurs in these countries is an opportunity for celebration and collaboration. The leadership inherent in believing ‘yes’ when the world says ‘no’ was essential to the founding of the resident theatre movement, and it is inspiring to see that spirit kindling internationally.
However, if that fire of leadership isn’t tended, it will go out. To that end, last week we announced our Spring 2012 Leadership Teleconferences. These Webinars and Teleconferences feature opportunities to engage directly with innovative thinkers like Machine Project founder Mark Allen and Alan Brown of WolfBrown. Others offer practical-minded approaches to navigating the artist visa process and leveraging federal appropriations. Leadership requires not only bold visions but also working strategies to achieve them, and our Teleconference series provides occasion for both.
If you are possessed of just such a vision or strategy, now is the time to share it through a Breakout Session Proposal for our 2012 National Conference, Model the Movement. Your leadership can help us transform our theatre field into a movement again, one new model at a time. The proposal deadline is February 20.
In a recent TEDx talk, Qatari arts-patron Sheikha Al Mayassa champions the value of “globalizing the local and localizing the global; we don’t want to be all the same, but we want to respect each other and understand each other.” While theatre is always local, it is made by and for individuals living in a globalized world. We need to harness the tools of this new world to spread theatre’s capacity for mutual understanding, to keep on saying ‘yes’ in a world of ‘no’.