Theater Economics: Conservation and Community

By on 30 April, 2011 in Greg Thornton with 3 Comments

Too often, arts institutions are considered a frill or diversion for the elite and are not given due justice for being the conservators of gifts and legacies that have been handed down to us through centuries of creation. Indeed, we have the opportunity to build up a continuing stream of understanding for the wonders, the incredible magic, the creative mind of man has achieved.

-CLAUDETTE BEAULIEU; the executive director of the New Orchestra of Westchester, NY

Greg Thornton is the Artistic Director of the Cloverdale Playhouse.

There are as many defenses for why the arts are important to a community as there are artists and communities in this land of ours. I don’t expect one could possibly count them. I find this defense, as if it needed to be stated, quite cogent, quite honest, and quite wonderful. If the arts do anything, and they do much to be sure, they lift the spirit. Imagine a painting, sculpture, piece of music, theatrical performance, the film, or fragment of poetry that you encountered in your lifetime: Did it move you? Did it console you? Did it give you the insight to look at things a bit differently? Did it take your breath away? Yes, yes, and yes! This lift to the spirit endures. And I would venture that the lift to the community, from an economic and cultural standpoint, is palpable as well.

These thoughts come to me as I walk from the Cloverdale Playhouse to the restaurants and shops along Fairview Avenue. I had a vision of an evening when a performance was about to start at the Playhouse. A family was enjoying pizza at Tomatino’s, a couple was making plans over a drink and dinner at Sinclair’s, a writer was scribbling notes for a new story while enjoying a beverage at 1048, a student grabbing an espresso at Louisa’s and hustling to get that paper done, a group laughing on the porch at El Rey, people leaving Bud’s across the street. It was 7:15 in the evening and the play was about to start. And so, in my vision, all of these folks had tickets to the Playhouse that evening and all of these folks had a chance for an evening of fun, of extraordinary words, of music, of transformation.

In this vision, what was taking place provided a lift to the merchants in the neighborhood.  People were spending money at their places of businesses. Healthy tips were being given to their staffs. There was a vibrant exchange taking place. As the audience was gathering around the corner, it was obvious to me that all of this buzz was a truly welcome sound. And that it might continue through the evening was my fervent wish. If the play was well-received and the audience moved in some way, then we had done what we set out to do. And the neighborhood felt a little brighter, and the air had a breeze in it that quickened the step, and there were echoes of excited chatter hovering on the street corners. And the cast and crew from the Playhouse were heading over to have a nosh and raise a glass and talk about how it all went.

Greg Thornton is the Artistic Director of the Cloverdale Playhouse.

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There Are 3 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Greg, I can hardly wait!! This is precisely the reason that many have located here in the Cloverdale area: the ability to walk to and enjoy many wonderful and diverse entertainment experiences. The Cloverdale Playhouse soon will join the Capri Theatre as a beloved local venue for having fun and growing a bit in the process.

  2. Jim Yeaman says:

    So glad to have your talents directed toward the successful operation of The Cloverdale Playhouse, Greg! Playhouse patrons and visiting artists are most welcome here at The Lattice Inn, with a nice discount off of our normal and very reasonable rates. Welcome!

  3. Heather C says:

    Sounds like the perfect sort of evening 🙂

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