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Welcome to Salon!

Originally inspired by European literary salons (but nowhere near as haughty), this newsletter is part round-up, part amusement, and part conversation-starting. It's our post-show pub conversations, only digital! You're encouraged to respond to this email with any insights, feelings, gripes, or revelations. Grab a drink, imagine you’re draped on a velvet sofa, and let’s ponder about plays!
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People lie, numbers don't.

Hi everyone! It is SUMMER! I was lucky enough to win the lotto to an in-development showing of a Sonya Tayeh piece Unveiling at Lincoln Center Restart Stages starring Robbie Fairchild and an ensemble of exceptional dancers (photo above is from performances later the same day at the Guggenheim, busy day!) Fair warning: it is about to get corny. Robbie is an artist who I found myself watching and thinking “Damn, I am so lucky to be alive at the same time as him.” He turns me into such a sap, but I love it. He is truly transformative, revolutionary and every other superlative you can think of. If you haven’t seen him just jamming on his roof during the pandemic, I highly recommend starting there and then working through everything he has ever done. 

In a major win and VERY exciting/potentially transformative news: Ireland announced this week that they are piloting a basic guaranteed income program for artists. This is HUGE. Truly HUUUUGE. The details on who qualifies/what the pay is etc. are scarce at this point, though several articles quoted the full price for the government (which the democratic socialist in me is questioning if this is a flex or publishing a seemingly huge price tag to scare taxpayers.) France has a similar program called Intermittence Du Spectacle, which functions closer to Actor's Equity health insurance on a "minimum hours worked" framework (but it should be noted that AEA did not give members guaranteed income throughout the pandemic like Intermittence Du Spectacle...) And Germany is well, Germany, so they are state-sponsored and we continue to drool/cry out of jealousy of their funding structures. In the days since Ireland came out with its plan, I have seen several British articles urging their government to do the same. I have zero faith in BoJo (Boris Johnson for my American folx) but will remain cautiously optimistic.

This scheme is a rational and supportive response to the pandemic year that directly benefits freelancers- who are often overlooked or not included in bailout funds made available to institutions. I am almost speechless. Major props need to be given to the NCFA (National Council for the Arts) which is a grass-roots and volunteer-led organization that has been lobbying for this for over 5 years. What NCFA does exceptionally well is that they lead with hard data and have exceptionally researched proposals full of numbers and figures- things governments can’t ignore.

Look, I’m sure Biden loved Hamilton, but what American organizations can learn from this is that money and numbers talk. I’ve seen some numbers about the arts sector's contribution to the economy coming out over the last few months from the likes of Cuomo, the NEA, and Actor’s Equity, which is a start. But the energizing step forward in Ireland really makes me want to start lobbying Joe more directly. Who’s with me? 

What's happening this week.

It's good to talk: theatre offers society a crucial space for conversation by Aoife Monks

A whole op-ed in The Stage about how valuable lobby conversations are! The lack of conversation around what we are consuming was basically the impetus for this send-out so you can imagine how thrilled I was to read this. Full of some fun historical context for the nerds...FTN? (Is this a thing? Can I make this a thing?) Read it here >>
Detroit Public Theatre has a new space! 

One of my favorite theatres announced the opening of a brand new space in Midtown Detroit. The building has a 200-seat black box, rehearsal space plus a bar, and apparently used to be an English muffin factory! While the English muffins might make it seem wholesome and midwestern, their provocative for-the-people programming by the entirely female leadership team continues to inspire. Way to go ladies! Read it here >>
We're Gonna Die by Young Jean Lee

Round House Theatre in DC has made a bold programming choice with this piece coming at the tail end of a global pandemic. I don't know about you but grief and mortality have been a constant undercurrent in my conversations, so I wasn't sure I needed to watch a show about grief. Yet I've seen recordings and the show is funny, dark, and frank enough to act as a balm for this horrible year. Starts June 14. Watch it here >>
Other Happenings

➤  The original stars of Aida (my first Broadway show!) Heather Headly, Sherrie Rene Scott, and Adam Pascal reunite on Stars in the House. I feel old, but damn Heather is magic- even on a little zoom screen. Watch it here >>

 This article discussing the lack of diversity in classical music looks to the associates, assistants, and fellows at major institutions to fill the gaps. The similarity to theatre jobs (and hierarchy) could not be starker. Let's hope theater is listening (pun intended.) Read it here >>

➤  Jordan Fisher and the reopening cast of Dear Evan Hansen performed on Good Morning America. It warmed my slightly bitter heart. Watch it here >>

Marie's Crisis is open at full capacity and checking proof of vaccine at the door. I may or may not have ended up there three times over the past two weekends... go sing your hearts out! Read it here >>
Thoughts?
 
What do we think about guaranteed basic income for artists? What would a scheme like this look like in The States? Is it even possible?
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Missed a week? Read all of the previous Salons here!
Olivia is a freelance director who works in Dublin, NYC, and LA. She is preoccupied with German theatre aesthetics, dismantling problematic funding structures, creating work across geographical and cultural boundaries, and why football had a pandemic season (and oh so many outbreaks) when theatres remained closed. 
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