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Article Review Essay about Theatres

In the article “The Not-for-Profit Professional Theater,” the author states that all not-for-profit theatres eventually become profit-making businesses. This is because, as the not-for-profit theatres grow, their needs for money to cater for management, marketing, legal, janitorial, and personnel services also grow. Besides, just like profit-making businesses, not-for-profit theatres also undergo the normal stages of business life cycle. The author of the article states that due to the difficulty to find a consistent definition of a professional theatre, it has been difficult to differentiate which part of revenue from not-for-profit theatres is for professional not-for-profit theatre and which one is not. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a not-for-profit operation is one classified under section 501(c)3 of IRS. The donations to these operations are tax deductable but their incomes of their operations are exempted from tax. Based on this definition, many theatres fail to qualify as not-for-profit theatres. Besides, existence of many amateur theatres, whose workforce is partly made of paid employees and partly of unpaid employee and volunteers makes it difficult to classify them as professional theatres. The author states that only actors’ unions as well as other professional associations such as the Theatre Communication Group, League of Resident Theatres, Alliance of Resident Theatres, and League of Chicago Theatres can help in the definition of professional theatre through their membership requirements. A close look at the budgets, mission statements, and histories of many theatres indicate that they operate more as businesses rather than not-for-profit theatres.

In the article “Creative Synergy: Commercial and Not-for-Profit Live Theatre in America.” Joni M. Cherbo states that there are many synergies from the interactions of the amateur, not-for-profit, and commercial artistic enterprises in America. Cherbo states that players in these enterprises tend to move from one enterprise to another, whereby each move provides different reputations, pay scales, and experiences (129). However, there is a need for more information about these synergies in the American creative sector. Provision of this information can assist the American creative sector to grow, thus making it a worthy sector to all its stakeholders. Cherbo states that interactions between commercial and non-for-profit theatres are very widespread, especially in sourcing revenue and distribution of expenses (131). However, information about this intersectoral relationship is not available. Similarly, there exists a lot of theatrical synergy between Broadway productions (commercial theatres) and not-for-profit theatres. Cherbo states that not-for-profit theatres source 70 to 80 percent of their musicals and plays from Broadway productions (134). Creative synergies also exist in the American creative sector. Generally, if the synergies that exist in American creative sector are tapped effectively, the American creative sectors stands to experience enhanced richness as well as growth.

In the “The Mythologizing of American Regional Theatre,” Vincent Landro states that the history of not-for-profit theatres in America dates back the 1940s and 1950s. Landro states that not-for profit theatres began as a way of enabling communities outside New York to experience the great work of art, thus assisting in filling a national cultural vacuum that existed during that time (77). The pioneers of not-for-profit theatre were Margo Jones, Nina Vance, Zelda Fichandler, and Jules Irving and Herbert Blau of San Francisco. At first, the pioneers were very united in rebelling against Broadway Establishment. However, as time went by, greed and search for profit grew among the pioneers, thus compromising their potential to become an important cultural force in America. In the 1960s, the number of theatres increased in America and many of them were profit oriented. However, the 1970s were the best years for these companies. The number of audience as well as the size of their budgets increased substantially. Landro states that this growth was at the expense of increased commercialization of the theatres as well as cost of quality and vision. However, many theatres experienced their downfall in the 1990s. This was a direct result of increased commercialization, which made many of them to loss funding. Landor states that revival of the American creative sector requires “replacement of the old mythology with a new model, which captures the complex nature, adaptability, fragmentation, and pragmatism of regional theatre” (101).

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