I find myself pulling out Donella Meadow's Thinking in Systems: A Primer again, as I read the hundred billionth blog/newspaper/magazine post about the (admittedly) amazing local food scene we have here. I will own up the truth: I am bitterly jealous, an emotion I have tried to root out in all other facets of my life. And it's not even jealous for me, it's a jealousy for my beloved field, all those hard working actors and directors and designers and theater lovers. The irony, of course, is that because we do what we do, restaurants, food trucks, all sorts of food-related night-life related establishments spring up around us to take advantage of OUR audience, of OUR casts needing some place to grab a quick bite before a show call or gather together after the performance to discuss meanings, nuances, or how great the energy was in the house.
So I go back and ask "What have they got that we ain't got?" (to coin a phrase). And that's when I get back to the whole system thing. While I think we are part of a system, and could conceivably be a micro-system unto ourselves, I have been able to identify that we lack the sheer number of stocks and flows that the local food system has. So that's one leg up they've got.
It's also easy to discuss food. I mean ,food isn't necessarily easy (having attempted gardens, I can't begin to imagine a farm), but while we can attempt to put nuance to food, it mainly boils down (no pun intended) to "did it taste good? did I enjoy eating it?" The same cannot be said about Theater (and, by extrapolation, the Arts). By our very nature, we are a nuanced field, with shades and layers and differences and experiences that go into whether someone thinks a show is "good" and has an "enjoyable time" attending. And that's not to say we shouldn't be doing all we can to overcome that perception (and therefore stigma). But it's a hurdle that we have that the food scene doesn't.
There's more of course, but it'll take time to "get the beat of the system." It's easy to parse a system I'm not in the middle of. A lot harder when I have to keep the lights on in a venue and sell tickets for shows to audiences that we still have yet to identify.