The theater system, as a subsystem of the arts, is not broken. It can't be, otherwise there would be no theater. The arts are not broken, otherwise there would be no dance, no song, no comedy, no sculpture... Relevance is a, well, relevant term: there are millions of people for whom making and consuming art in some form is a daily necessity, a Maslow bottom-level (and I know folks who would argue that that is actually true of everyone, some just don't want to admit it or call it art). So what needs to be relevant to whom? And sustainable by who's definition? Arena Stage looks an awful lot from the outside like any performing arts center in any major city. Zelda would argue with me, as would Molly, but for the casual live-entertainment ticket-purchaser, there isn't a difference. So is a large building, multi-million dollar endowment, 10% return on capital investment, recoupment in a short time span, critics loving every line and direction, audiences signing up for season subscriptions, people beating a path to your door, 24-7 lines sustainable?
"To get to tomorrow, Theodore, you have to dial one number higher." We're not looking high enough, broad enough, long-term enough. Most of us can't: we're too mired in the daily activities of doing the business of art to really see the system for what it is. Our national organizations try to do what they can, which is commendable. Fear of change, lack of time and energy, though, still keep the varying subsystems plodding along as they have been. Changing goals, or paradigms, or the very system itself, will require someone who is comfortable trudging through the messiness.