Monday, September 13, 2010

The benefit of homegrown theater and cultural exchange

It is no doubt that Broadway dominates the headlines and visibility of theater in this country. Chicago is a perfect example. We are becoming known on a theater city that is almost on par with New York. But the productions that are making money and drawing tourists are the ones playing down town and imported from Broadway. Indeed the production are part of Broadway-in-Chicago; aptly named. While this blog has discussed some of the drawbacks and implications this question it has toward this city, the London Guardian has taken up the discussion on the world implications.

The big boys, Broadway and the West End, are exporting their product more are not just to smaller cities within their countries, but also to the world. And while the Guardian makes sure to not that this is clearly excellent business, it may not be good arts leadership.

One other idea to throw into the mix is cultural exchange. The Guardian is very careful to point out that sharing our cultures across the globe is important. But it is a two way street and it isn't a financial venture. And to take a moment to give praise, the shows that Chicago Shakespeare imports to their stages are some of the most excellent and diverse that anyone could ask for. Chicago truly has a gem of a cultural asset in the work that Chicago Shakespeare is doing.

More companies should be looking to share cultures like this. Whether it be more international exchange like Chicago Shakes or simply more dialogue between companies to spread the importance of culture and create a greater separation between commerce and art.

Because they aren't the same thing.

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