Dear TfL friends, colleagues, supporters, strangers:
Word is spreading that I am closing Theatre for Living (Headlines Theatre). Yes – I am, with the support of staff and the Board of Directors, “devolving” the Company after 37 years of production.
I will continue to respond to invitations to do workshops, trainings and speeches, but am retiring from fundraising. We will close the office by the end of October 2018. The tremendous core staff (Dafne Blanco, David Ng, Susan Shank) are moving on to other things – this transition has been ‘under discussion’ for well over a year.
At a very personal level, I want the stress and responsibility of raising between $300- 500,000 every year and being ultimately responsible for people’s salaries and the financial viability of projects out of my life.
I had hoped that with the infusion of new money, the Canada Council for the Arts (Canada’s national arts funding body) would increase our operating grant to a realistic, sustainable level. We should be, I believe, a “poster child” for the Canada Council in terms of our level of community engagement and artistic product – having been doing what we do for decades, long before “community engagement” became an important cultural buzz word. Community Engagement was supposed to be the CENTRE of the new criteria. There are, I understand, theatre companies who got massive increases to their operating. We were frozen once again at $55,000 a year, after 37 years of production. That news sealed the decision for me to make this transition. The fundraising mountain to make up the rest, even with contributions from the City of Vancouver and BC Arts Council, is just too high each year and is no longer physically/emotionally sustainable.
People have asked ‘why not hand it over to someone’? A percentage of the company’s earned income is from me going out and giving workshops, trainings and making speeches. I am going to continue to do that. Anyone taking it over would not only be burdened with a monumental fundraising task every year, but that income that I bring in would also be gone. The theatre company would have to transform completely in order to manage and would no longer BE Theatre for Living. Everything is born, everything lives, and everything eventually transforms. The corporate idea that anything continues forever is, in my opinion, against the laws of Nature.
I want to thank all the people and organizations who have contributed to Headlines Theatre and then Theatre for Living since its founding in 1981. There are far too many to name.
Again, I am not retiring from making theatre – just from being a fundraiser and producer. I will continue to respond to invitations to do workshops, trainings and speeches. My “secret hope” is that some Director will be crazy enough to cast me as an actor in a good play, TV show or film!! I miss acting.
I’ll keep everyone posted.