Q. What am I supposed to get out of creating a democratic play-producing Association?
A. Increased satisfaction. If you are perfectly satisfied right now, that is, if you are fully realizing your artistic and creative potentials and ambitions through your current practices, then you probably won’t have any interest in this. You are already “living the dream”. But if you are in any way dissatisfied with your artistic lot in life, then you should at least be interested in forming this Association. It will probably improve your situation.
Q. How exactly will I benefit from creating such an Association?
A. No company, group or individual will have to scramble for play production funds. The funds will already be accrued and “waiting” for distribution.
A. No company, group or individual will have to pay for advertising. All advertising (for plays, auditions, etc.) can be handled on the web site. The audience is already a part of the community.
A. All companies, groups and individuals will have access to exhaustive lists of stages, spaces, artists (including producers, directors, actors, etc.) and artisans (including all practical aspects of staging), i.e. complete data banks (where “complete” is limited only by those who do not choose to join or submit their name or space).
A. All companies, groups and individuals who complete an acceptable Project Proposal will have their play produced. If the number of Project Proposals exceeds the amount of funds available, then some plays will be delayed in their production. They will still be produced.
A. Association Facilitators are in the business of facilitating the production of the most and the best plays possible given the limitations on funding; they are NOT in the business of selecting and rejecting projects according to their own tastes or according to what they perceive to be the taste of their particular audience (as are Artistic Directors and other people responsible for play selection). One object of the Facilitators is to find an audience for the project. Since companies, groups and individuals do not have to compete with each other for a share of the market, they can more fully realize their own creative and artistic energies. But since the realization of these energies depends, in part, upon audience satisfaction, they will have to balance their own satisfaction with that of the audience.
Q. Does the "share of the market" simply shift from the competitive, capitalistic free market we see today to another form of competition, i.e. competition between groups wanting to secure funding from the Association? And since there would be only one source of money if such an association were to be successful, then individuality of artistic expression would actually be diminished rather than fostered, would it not?
A. Yes to the first question; No to the second.
Yes, competition would change. Currently, we see competition between independent groups trying to secure a share of the total amount of funding available. Some groups will succeed better than others. One group might secure the lion's share of the funding. It will build (or have built) a state-of-the-art venue, be financially able to hire professional actors and build creative, technologically innovative staging, etc. Perhaps another group will be able to challenge that group with their own theatrical offerings in their own venue, etc. And then every other group in the area will struggle for viability, i.e. some share of the market that will allow them to have "a season" or just to "produce their next play." This form of competition relies on the accumulation of money and power. The more money a group accumulates, the more quality people it can hire to achieves its goals (power). The more quality people it can hire and the more money it has for staging, etc., the more quality plays it can produce. The more quality plays it can produce, the more people who are willing to subsidize it, whether they be playgoers, businesses, governments or charity. In this form of competition, money and power are directly related to quality of production. Those who are able to accrue it are those at the top of the competititve "hierarchy." Everyone else struggles to secure a market share so they can ply their trade. Succeeding in this system means either "moving up" and becoming a part of the dominant group(s), being "satisfied" with a small share of the market while earning a living elsewhere, or eeking out a less than optimal living in one of the struggling groups (while trying to earn a living elsewhere). It is a typical result of competitive capitalism.
In AIDA, competitive capitalism would transform itself into cooperative democracy. A community of playmakers would contribute a small portion of their financial resources (a yearly fee) and a small portion of their energy (a one-time recruiting requirement of playgoing members, with some slight additional energy if some of one's group of recruited playgoers opt out and have to be replaced). The funds accrued from these contributions and efforts will serve as the start-up funds for an entire community of playmakers and playgoers. More funds from businesses, government and charity would be accrued to supplement the original funds. The funds would be distributed according to the policies and procedures set forth in an Agreement (or constitution) that would be affirmed by all Professional Members of the Association. How funds get distributed is determined by a democracitally-established agreement between all participating members (and not by a board or an Artistic Director, etc.) Members of the Association distribute funds to each other by rules that they, themselves, agree upon. Competition for those funds occurs under democratically established rules of distributiion. Any competition that occurs wihin the Association occurs under the umbrella of cooperation (and agreement among equals).
No, artistic indiividuality of expression would not diminish; in fact, it would increase exponentially. A democratic association works primarily cooperatively and only secondarily competitively. The central function of the Facilitators in the Association would be to fund as many quality productions as possible. This aim is to satisfy, as best as possible, all of the playmakers and all of the playgoers in the area. Once the paradigm shifts from "money and power" to "satisfaction," then the entire theater community (including playmakers and playgoers) becomes stakeholders in the enterprise. The question shifts from "how can we make the most money" (as individual groups) to "how can we satisfy each other's needs and wants" (as interconnected playmakers and playgoers). Individual groups in the traditional competitive paradigm seek to advance their own self-interests (and inevitably this is at the expense of others) and they gague their success on their ability to do so. A democractic orgainization in the non-traditional competitive or cooperative paradigm seeks to advance the self-interests of all involved, and all involved, optimally, includes all playmakers and all playgoers primarily (and businesses, governments, and charity secondarily). The objective of the Facilitators in the Association is to satisfy not only their own self-interests but also those of all playmakers and playgoers in the area. Their role is "facilitative" and not "determinative." For example, a traditional competitive group will select a play for production based on the Artistic Director's (or committee's) ability to do what he/she (or the committee) wants to do while satisfying the audience it has attracted (or seeks to attract.) They want to satisfy their Artistic Director or committee and please their audience at the same time. They select plays that fit those parameters and reject all others. In a democratic Association, Facilitators do not "select plays for production"; rather, they assess plays and seek automatically to find ways to produce them. The focus shifts from competition to cooperation. The question shifts from "do we want to produce this play, given our audience" to "how can we produce this play and find the audience that would appreciate it." When a playwright submits a play to the Association, he or she will be soliciting a body of people that are dedicated to helping him or her to get that play (or some version thereof) seen on stage. The Association does not have "an audience" to safisfy. The entire playgoing community is the Association's audience. It now becomes a matter of finding the right audience for that work, or, if the work is not yet at "production level" then finidng ways for the playwright to bring the work up to "production level." The focus of a democratic Association is to support the playmakers as much as possible while satisfying the entire theater-going audience as much as possible.
Q. What do I (playmaker) have to do to make this work?
A. Pay $150/year for a Membership Fee and recruit three (3) playgoers (people who want to go to plays). This is all anyone has to do. No more. [This requirement is subjet to ratification by all people starting this Association.)
Q. How will the Association raise enough money to produce plays?
A. There are approximately 65 play-producing groups in the Greater Cincinnati Area (based on groups registered with Cinstages.com), and approximately 1,700 members in those groups (i.e. board members and key players); there are an estimated 3000 actors and 3000 artisans and technicians that serve those groups (a conservative estimate). This totals approximately 7,700 playmakers in the Greater Cincinnati Area. This does not include all the potential playmakers that would exist if the theater business were structured differently (i.e. theater people with the talent but not the will or circumstances to compete with others). If at least 2,000 playmakers in the Tri-State area pay a $150 Membership Fee, then $300,000 will be accured. If each one of these playmakers recruits three playgoing members (at $100 each), then $600,000 will be accrued. This totals $900,000. We would need $600,000 to produce 30 plays a year @ 20,000 per play (an adjustable average). See the “Finance” section on the web site, especially Start-up Funds, by first clicking on “Professional Work Page” for more information. And this would be just the start-up funds. More funds from all sources would be forthcoming.
Q. How do I recruit three playgoing members?
A. Tell your family and friends that they can see up to 30 quality plays a year, brought to them by virtually the entire theater community in the Tri-State area, for $100. They can also help you realize your artistic aspirations and goals by helping to create a new way to do theater. Recruitment suggestions and packages will be developed when those Members who wish to be more active in the Association come forward.
Q. Do I have to understand all of that information on the web site to participate in this?
A. No. You just have to be willing to pay a Membership Fee and recruit at least three Playgoing Members. But recruiting Playgoing Members might require some basic knowledge of the web site (the democratic organization). Also, the web site itself could be used as a referral source for all prospective Playgoing Members. Only those Professional Members who want to be more active in the Association need understand more clearly how it works.
Q. Doesn’t traditional capitalism offer us the best way to realize our artistic and creative ambitions? Why should I help create a democratic Association when we
are already doing business in the best way possible?
A. (a practical answer): If there are 20 play producing groups in a given area, and all of these groups are organized hierarchically, and each of these groups produces 5 plays per year, then there are 20 people (whether they are called artistic directors, directors, or small committees) in charge of selecting a total of 100 plays for production in that year for that area. In a democratic organization, no one is in charge of selecting plays. Every member of the Association can produce a play. If they possess the expertise and motivation, they can do it themselves. If they don’t, then they will have access to those who can (data banks). In a democratic organization, there will be much more than 20 producers (in the same area) from which to select.
A. (a practical answer): Currently, playwrights would have to submit their play to the twenty artistic directors in the area in order to get their play produced. In the larger groups, the play is read not by the artistic director but by a dramaturg (or someone similar) who screens all the plays submitted. Therefore, most of the plays submitted to a group are rejected. The few that are accepted are passed on to the artistic director (or someone else who might serve as a screener of plays) and are either accepted or rejected, until the final five plays are accepted. And this is not considering the tens of thousands of plays that are not submitted by living playwrights. In a democratic organization, all playwrights are potential producers, or co-producers. Or they can access an exhaustive list of local producers who might be interested in producing their work. In other words, the odds for playwrights getting their work produced in a democratic organization are much greater than the odds of getting the same work produced in the current economic set up.
A. (a practical answer): In traditional groups that are composed of, let’s say, 20 people, the artistic director (or equivalent) is in charge of determining which plays will be produced. Everyone else in the group has to submit the wishes and will to that of the artistic director. In a democratic organization, such as the Association, everyone is potentially an artistic director. No one has to submit their own creative energy to someone else. Rather, they have to be able to express their creative energy by either becoming a producer themselves or recruiting a producer to produce their project and realize their goals and ambitions. Within a democratic structure, all members, even those subordinate to artistic directors, have a much better chance of realizing their artistic and creative dreams than in traditional, hierarchically-organized capitalistic structures.
Q. If I help create this Association, will I be disloyal to my boss (artistic director, owner, etc.) and, hence, lose my job?
A. This question is based on the false assumption that AIDA is just another play-production group competing for a share of the market. It is not. You might be considered disloyal if AIDA were in competition with your group. It is not. Recruiting Playgoing Members might, if AIDA were to be successful, reduce the number of “paid” playgoers for your group (e.g. by choosing AIDA over year subscriptions to your group’s plays), but this would be made up for by having AIDA subsidize the production of some or all of the plays produced by your group. You might lose subscribers, but you wouldn’t need them anyway; you’d have the Association to fund your productions.
Q. Will my production group lose its autonomy if it has to rely upon a committee of people who “facilitate” the production of projects submitted to them?
A. No. Those groups that are struggling to get funds for their projects will be able to strengthen their autonomy and establish their names much more easily than in the traditional capitalistic market. They will be able to produce more plays, reduce costs (no advertising costs, reduced or no ticket costs, etc.), pay more actors and technical people, and, in general, raise the quality of their productions. All this is done under their own name. Though plays will be funded by the Association, individual production companies and producers will reap the benefits. They can establish a good track record using Association funds. Groups who are already financially well off or secure will retain their autonomy; the way they do it will be altered. Instead of having their plays funded only by traditional sources, they would rely, at least in part, upon the Association for funding. One source of their funding might change, but the quality of their productions will remain the same.
A. (a philosophical answer) Divide traditional capitalism into two areas: 1) making profit through the exchange of commodities and services, and 2) organizing one’s business hierarchically. The first view has little application to our concerns: most theatrical companies in our area are not for profit. And even if they were for profit, this characteristic would have little to do with the Association. One can make profit in democratic businesses as well as traditional, hierarchically-structured and run businesses (refer to Haslett, Capitalism and Morality). It is the second area of traditional capitalism with which the Association would take issue. Hierarchy is the issue, not profit. The Association would argue that hierarchy is not only “not” the best way to organize our energies, but it is actually a bad way to organize them. Compared to democratic structures, hierarchy is morally debilitating, emotionally stultifying, and physically unhealthy.
Q. (philosophical) Isn’t hierarchy a natural, biological phenomenon? Aren’t human beings, like apes, genetically determined to form hierarchies, with the “alpha
male” at the top?
A. (a philosophical answer) Though evolutionary theory (as applied to society) does make such a claim, there is absolutely no genetic support for it. No one has found any gene or genes directly responsible for disposing some people (the relatively few) to dominate other people (the relatively many). And evolutionary theorists know this. So they opt for the next best thing. They say that men are equipped with more testosterone than are women, and more testosterone means more aggression, and more aggression means more likelihood to dominate. Even evolutionary theorists overwhelmingly admit that this is not really a good or moral way to operate, but it is somehow the ‘inevitable’ way.
Q. (a retort) If hierarchies are ‘inevitable’, then why are there so many countries around the world now trying to form political democracies? Why has our country
fought for a political democracy? Why do we value democracy so much?
A. (philosophical) Hierarchies are not inevitable; they are learned. Democracies are forming around the world because we have only recently (1700’s) recognized that hierarchical forms of government are morally debilitating, emotionally stultifying, and physically unhealthy. Evolutionary theory has no way to account for the development and proliferation of democracies around the world. Such a trend runs counter to our supposed genetic and/or biological disposition to form hierarchies. The best (and only) reason given that I’ve found is that democracies are aberrations, i.e. forms of government that pop up now and then only to fizzle out because of their inherent lack of stability. Not very convincing to me. Democracies do seem to work…and our country is living proof.
Q. (philosophical) Isn’t a political democracy one thing and a business democracy another thing? Doesn’t the competitive nature of business require us to organize
A. (philosophical) No. If we can do it in politics, we can do it in business. At present, we have many autocracies or oligarchies in business. We need to convert them into democracies. AIDA is a start in that direction.