Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Boston as sideshow

I was relieved to hear that the New Rep's new Artistic Director, Kate Warner, would actually be living in the Hub, and directing several New Rep shows upon her arrival. Because in case you haven't noticed, Boston's becoming a bit of a sideshow based out of New York for many of its Artistic Directors. Both the A.R.T.'s and the Huntington's new A.D.'s have spent recent months readying shows to open on or off-Broadway (Becky Shaw and Hair, respectively).

Add to that the fact that the B.S.O. is also often administered from Lincoln Center - James Levine is here for less than half the season - and you get the impression that to many people on Boston's boards, we're still some sort of adjunct of the Big Apple. And to plenty of other Bostonians, this is how the local arts scene should work - as an adjunct of New York's. But count me out of that crowd. I'd rather see us grow an indigenous arts scene of quality than attach ourselves to the overscheduled careers (and careerism) of global stars. That leads to artistic decisions which aren't really tailored to our city, its talent, or its audiences, and I think that gap shows up in the resulting performances; I mean, could anyone claim the Huntington and the A.R.T. have been having good years? (You all already know what I think about the B.S.O.) True, sometimes compromises have to be struck, particularly with globe-trotting classical music talent; but isn't it time the city began to demand that it at least be the central (if not the only) focus of its artistic stars? Boards of Directors may love to bask in the reflected glory of their "world-class" talent - but maybe the city they're supposed to be serving would be better off with a little more attention from its supposed leaders.

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