A few weeks ago I was at a fantastic gallery opening, beautiful gorgeous work that didn’t just speak to me, it nuzzled right up and whispered sweet nothings in my ear. Pieces were about three by four feet on average, and prices between $1800 and $2200. Out of my price range, absolutely worth the price, but out of my range. I remember stamping my foot and wondering why I wasn’t rich. (It was pointed out to me by the curator and another artist it’s because – I’m also an artist. Point taken.)
There was a little sign saying that in addition to the pieces on the wall, smaller versions were also available, and I got really excited for a second, thinking, oooh – maybe I can afford a smaller one!
Then I remembered – art isn’t carpet. You don’t pay by the square foot.
Last night having an excellent conversation with some fellow artsfolks, and how a show did not get picked up as the producing company could not take the risk of selling an hour-long show to their ticket buyers. It wasn’t long enough.
Theatre is not the psychic (or other) hotline. You don’t pay by the minute.
People pay per view for boxing matches that can last two or three minutes in total.
People pay hundreds of dollars for bad seats at a hockey game (3 periods, 20 min ea. = 1 hour).
Granted some theatre is so mediocre or bad that am sure folks wish they could have paid by the minute and left after 37 of them. However.
We need to remember that we are paying for the experience as a whole. Not by the brush stroke, word or monologue. It’s not an auction. And if you are hesitant to program something that is less than 70 minutes remember:
1) you can always expand the experience – pre and post show chats. Dinner prix fixe with a partnering restaurant that matches the work. Art installations and live music in the lobby.
2) Times have changed – the two or three acts with intermissions are not as frequent as they used to be. I am more surprised to see two acts with inter in a program these days than to see 90 minutes no inter. And don’t forget – people are busy. More often than not there is a sigh of relief or dance of delight at the thought of being home before ten.
Art is not carpeting. It’s not by the foot. Th experience isn’t better or worse depending on the length of the show. The experience is better or worse depending on the quality. A yard of dupioni silk is the same length as a yard of burlap. It costs more because it’s better quality, and may be more desirable – but it’s still only three feet long.