We Do Not Protest Enough, Methinks

Sad news about the Vancouver Playhouse. Sadder news that nobody seems to mind, or care. Or those that do are not in numbers strong enough (or influential enough) to make a difference. What if they gave a protest and nobody came?

Curtain falling on Vancouver’s Cultural Scene

With that in mind I am asking my Vancouver peeps and readers their opinion. If you’d like to be part of the next post, an “in conversation with” post about why this has happened, what might be going on, and what you think comes next you can either message me on Facebook, DM me on Twitter or email me.

9 Comments to “We Do Not Protest Enough, Methinks”

  1. $169 million on Theatre tickets thats chump change no wonder they are shutting theatres down if Hollywood made just one movie that made that much it would almost be considered a flop. One million attended how many were repeat people the pool isn’t very deep with supporter by the looks of it. Thanks for the stats but how does that support your argument to keep theatre?

    • Hi bboy,
      It’s interesting that both you and hatfull compared theatre and movies.
      Theatre and film are two completely different things – the Hollywood machine is far different than independent theatre. The answer to your question “how many were repeat” – subscribers. Subscribers are “repeat customers”.
      Which argument would you like? How theatre adds to the livability of a city? What it contributes to the local economy? How many jobs it creates, both directly and through ancillary work? How it contributes to tourism? I’m not mocking you, I’m asking which one you want to talk about – I think it’s a valid question and conversation to have.

  2. “Take a pole (sic) and see how many have even seen a play or gone to more than one in the last year.
    Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts did just that. Here are your poll results:
    Over 1 million individuals attended a professional theatre, dance or opera event
    They spent over $169 million on tickets
    Over 2.5 million single and subscription tickets were sold by TAPA members
    22% of audience members come from outside the City of Toronto
    2,800 high school groups attended a performance in Toronto
    So those 2.5 million single tickets mean some people are seeing at least a play a year, and those subscription numbers mean people are seeing at least four or five.”

    Is that any comparison to these numbers below I don’t think there is even an argument here?
    U.S./Canada box office repeated its peak 2009 performance in 2010, reaching $10.6 billion, up 15% over five years ago. 3D was a key driver – 21% of 2010 U.S./Canada box office ($2.2 billion) came from 3D showings, nearly double the 2009 total. 25 films released with 3D versions in 2010, up from 20 in 2009.

    “See the same theatre shows over and over are you kidding what year is this? How many times can the Rolling Stones play start me up and we actually still enjoy it?
    It’s 2012. No theatre show is the same as its last performance. If you are referring to seeing the same production, okay I’ll say twice. But the ArtsClub production of Virginias Woolf was vastly different from the Stratford production of VIrgina Woolf which was completely different than…you get my picture I hope. A production of a play each time has different a) actors b)director c) designers d) producers e) audience. By the token you are arguing, why do people see a movie at the theatre then rent it then download it? With regard to “start me up” as an example – they why do eople download it? Shouldnt’ they have heard it once then been satisfied never to hear it again? That to me is the are you kidding me question.”

    So remaking the same movie over and over somehow also has value? When do you move on to new experiences and stories? Keep rehashing for what reason how many great productions are we missing because theatre or Hollywood rehashes its not fair to those trying to get their works seen and rejected because of it.

    “This generation is smarter than the last as we become more selective with content and develop shorter attention spans.
    To me, there is a huge difference between selecting content and curating, and a shorter attention span means an inability to pay attention. That doesn’t necessarily add up to smarter in my books. How do people learn if they cannot pay attention? I’m not dissing “this” generation, I’m stating my opinion on your comment.”

    We are the smartest generation as we have more information at our finger tips and and more knowledgable then generations past. As a result have less attention span and we collect that information in sound bites as we move quickly filtering through it. Thats not good or bad its a fact as we text in acronyms etc. We have way more selection on what we can watch therefore more competition for that attention. So rehashing becomes less interesting.

    “And you think people will sit still to stare at the same set for 2 hours because it cultural?
    Am not sure why you think people go to the theatre to stare at a set, especially when there are people standing in front of it telling a story (the actors). Why do people stare at a screen for two hours in a movie on on their iPad?”

    Because it can simply be more interesting especially visually (baring story) its a package deal you have to be interested in the story and the visuals and we have seen it all and crave more excitement than the last.

    I am really glad you took the time to comment. It’s been nice chatting with you.

    More like trying to put me in my place and less like chatting. It’s wasn’t about you responding and defending. Just thought I would defend back. Nice chatting with you too.

    • Sorry you took it that way, hatfull. No point in getting into it, but I’ve got to be honest with you – “We are the smartest generation as we have more information at our finger tips and and more knowledgable then generations past.” – having information at your fingertips and actually using it – applied knowledge, so to speak – are two different things.
      So I’ll say thanks again for posting.

  3. What’s really sad is not enough people care outside of industry and the small amount that do support it are not enough. How did that happen? Take a pole and see how many have even seen a play or gone to more than one in the last year. How many have seen movies, everyone all the time, we even download them and risk prison and fines in huge numbers, why because its cheaper and in most cases more interesting, it’s the entertainment of choice. Little hard to fight city hall when you have so little support from people who have never seen a play since grade school. Yes, government overspent they always do, so they look at lesser resources and start cutting all across Canada for better or worse. That happens to be Theatre, it a numbers game. Theatre just doesn’t pull enough numbers or interest and you can’t argue that. It didn’t just happen, it’s by design. Bail out the Olympics and doucebag condo developers? Sure why not happens all the time. Bail out a theatre? Sorry just not a big enough disaster. Maybe you can rattle the cage and save it, I hope you can but the writing is on the wall. We have evolved into a culture of digital media, theatre is slowly dying for lack of support. Sorry but the loudest ones fighting are industry people holding on to the past. Some would say don’t forget your past and embrace your digital future it’s what sells and you’re buying. Can’t have it all not enough time in the day to watch everything so we are selectively watching the interesting sound bites on YouTube we can’t get enough information. See the same theatre shows over and over are you kidding what year is this? How many times can the Rolling Stones play start me up and we actually still enjoy it? Should they still play it in concert considering every song costs $20 dollars to see just because it’s part of their culture? Our forms of communication are evolving this generation is smarter than the last as we become more selective with content and develop shorter attention spans. If you don’t believe it you are stuck on the same history channel. Yes, it’s a shame it’s closing but there are two sides to the argument and the numbers have spoken, now back to my ipad, ipod, kobo, iphone, You Tube and the list goes pretty bad when most people own all those entertainment/information media device and can carry them all in a shoulder bag and do. And you think people will sit still to stare at the same set for 2 hours because it cultural?

    • hatfulofsorrow,
      this is a very interesting very long comment. I agree with some of your points, but not all of them. And I’m glad you posted it. Response coming!

    • Okay. So I’ll pull some of your sentences and respond.
      Take a pole (sic) and see how many have even seen a play or gone to more than one in the last year.
      Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts did just that. Here are your poll results:
      Over 1 million individuals attended a professional theatre, dance or opera event
      They spent over $169 million on tickets
      Over 2.5 million single and subscription tickets were sold by TAPA members
      22% of audience members come from outside the City of Toronto
      2,800 high school groups attended a performance in Toronto
      So those 2.5 million single tickets mean some people are seeing at least a play a year, and those subscription numbers mean people are seeing at least four or five.

      See the same theatre shows over and over are you kidding what year is this? How many times can the Rolling Stones play start me up and we actually still enjoy it?
      It’s 2012. No theatre show is the same as its last performance. If you are referring to seeing the same production, okay I’ll say twice. But the ArtsClub production of Virginias Woolf was vastly different from the Stratford production of VIrgina Woolf which was completely different than…you get my picture I hope. A production of a play each time has different a) actors b)director c) designers d) producers e) audience. By the token you are arguing, why do people see a movie at the theatre then rent it then download it? With regard to “start me up” as an example – they why do eople download it? Shouldnt’ they have heard it once then been satisfied never to hear it again? That to me is the are you kidding me question.

      this generation is smarter than the last as we become more selective with content and develop shorter attention spans.
      To me, there is a huge difference between selecting content and curating, and a shorter attention span means an inability to pay attention. That doesn’t necessarily add up to smarter in my books. How do people learn if they cannot pay attention? I’m not dissing “this” generation, I’m stating my opinion on your comment.

      And you think people will sit still to stare at the same set for 2 hours because it cultural?
      Am not sure why you think people go to the theatre to stare at a set, especially when there are people standing in front of it telling a story (the actors). Why do people stare at a screen for two hours in a movie on on their iPad?

      I am really glad you took the time to comment. It’s been nice chatting with you.

  4. It is a larger malaise than just the Vancouver Cultural scene, which itself remains vibrant despite incredible setbacks in the last few years. Call it the Olympic disaster. The Ying Yang of the world is such that when one thing thrives and explodes, like the Olympics, then something else must suffer and implode. In BC, that entity was the Cultural sector. And there have been MANY protests, over several years. But the closure of Vancouver’s Civic Theatre, The Vancouver Playhouse, which has been a major force in the country’s theatre scene for 50 years, has produced many Canadian classics, developed great artists, became the incubator for the revival of The Shaw Festival under Christopher Newton, and which has given Vancouverites over 250 nights of theatre every year has suddenly thrown the malaise of the past few years into sharp, sudden focus. And the reluctance, truculence and ignorance of elected bodies to understand the larger value to their communities of Art and Culture.
    I wrote this today on Facebook, to answer a few people who criticized my recent protests as “futile”, “self-serving” or “naive”. It sums up my position fairly well:
    In 1971, I attended, with almost every school kid in Toronto, the protests outside the U.S. Embassy on University Avenue against the Nuclear Bomb test being conducted in Amchitka, Alaska. We were let out of school to take part in it. When the police arrived on horseback, with batons, it was intimidating, but we held our ground and kept chanting “Stop Amchitka, Stop The War!” A year and a half earlier, John Lennon and Yoko Ono brought their WAR IS OVER IF YOU WANT IT campaign to Toronto (And cities all over the world) They painted that slogan in a vapour trail from a small plane in the sky. Surprise tactic, and nobody could block it. You could see it from Buffalo, New York. These events shaped my consciousness for a lifetime. SPEAK OUT. PUT FORWARD AN IDEA. DON’T BE AFRAID IF THEY TRY AND STOP YOU. STAND UP FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN. And that’s why I’m fighting for the survival of the Vancouver Playhouse. Because it’s about more than just one theatre company who’ve fallen into trouble; it’s about a bigger issue- that of funding for, respect for and the belief in the vital part that Art and Culture play in the QUALITY of our life. As a City, as a Province and as a Nation. The Arts are not a luxury, or a frivolity. They are not just “entertainment”, subject to the whims of popular taste or market value. Imagine a world with no art, no music, no design, no writing, no voices in song or story, no TV, movies, theatre, dance, no toys, no labels, no poetry, nothing of anything that has required a creative hand. Pretty hard to, isn’t it? So why do we constantly get told that we’re “at the public trough” when the Arts returns $2 for every $1 invested in it. And why are we considered a secondary portfolio, when we contribute so much to the well-being of a nation? It’s RIDICULOUS how much we are constantly maligned. And as for hard work, very few people have any idea just how hard we work. Often with much less. Time to SPEAK UP. STAND UP. DEMAND TO BE HEARD and, for once, RESPECTED.
    There’s food for blog-thought.
    Mackenzie Gray

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