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What will happen to Ohio's cultural icons?

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In the ancient days of my youth, I spent many years in the performing arts business.  Cleveland area theaters and other performing venues have been closed for over a year.

When the lockdowns and masks were rammed down our throats, I immediately wondered how the arts communities would survive.  Theater companies, opera companies, orchestras, etc., and non-profit operations such as Playhouse Square always have fund-raising challenges;  they depend on the goodwill and contributions of boards of trustees, and they are always flirting with deficits.  So I was concerned after the lockdowns that one of the principal sources of cultural product for, say, Playhouse Square, was the Broadway theater, and the Broadway theater was at risk.  

Broadway has always been the sine qua non of legitimate and musical theater, both essentials in our American culture.  So I was distressed but not entirely surprised to read a gloomy piece at American Thinker last week on the prospects for the Broadway stages.  Here’s Alexander Nussbaum on the subject:

Bye-bye Broadway: A grim prognosis for New York’s theaters

New York City Broadway theaters closed on March 12, 2020. The closure was supposed to be for just one month. Fourteen months later, the theaters are still closed. But now Governor Cuomo has announced New York’s theaters are cleared for reopening, starting September 14. No less than 23 plays are scheduled to open between September and November.

Theaters will be allowed to open at “full capacity,” but with “social distancing,” with “capacity limitations are only governed by the ability of people to socially distance by six feet.” Maybe this makes sense to someone who is “woke,” but it does not make sense to me. Theater seats are not exactly six feet apart. In fact, a problem with Broadway’s theaters when they were open was that, when most of the theaters were built, only a tiny percent of the population was over 6 feet tall or over 250 pounds.

Broadway’s 41 theaters range in capacity from 600 to just under 2,000, but more than 30 [theaters] seat more than 1,000. A play has to be at close to 100% audience capacity to be economically viable. Taking out seats would require drastically raising already pre-Wuhan Virus sky high prices. Cuomo has hinted all theater patrons will require proof of vaccination.

I keep hearing how resilient New York City is and that it will be back. But I think New York City is finished forever as a “world” capital; it is Karachi, Pakistan now – the biggest city and commercial, not political, capital of a populous nation.

I’ll believe the Broadway theater will be back and viable when I see it happen. 

Mr. Nussbaum looks at the demographics, the economics including the costs of a night out on the town, household income stats, and especially tourism:

Sixty-five percent of attendees were tourists. The theater thus depends on tourists.

Let’s us add that all together and see how it can not mean anything else but the death of Broadway theater.

How is New York City, with its defunded and demoralized NYPD and rising murder and shooting rate, going to attract tourists? Attacking and killing the few tourists that were still coming, is now in, in this woke BLM city. What is the difference between New York and Mount Everest? Both have no culture, no economy, no restaurants, no police, and are extremely dangerous. But Mount Everest will get tourists.

Whites and the rich have fled the city. With the economy demolished, who is left to afford the Broadway ticket price, which because of fewer seats, will be even higher than the 145 dollars the report quoted? Older people are still afraid to leave the house because of the virus, and many did not survive Cuomo.

Read the full article here. 

Those arts organizations that can survive to re-produce plays, musicals, operas, or music already created might revert to the local community-theater model, no longer dependent on huge grants and contributions from individuals and companies, and no longer committed to union contracts.  Another possible outcome, as we sink further into socialism, will be a dreaded “partnership” between the arts communities and the socialist state.  Under that model, major government and corporate grants may roll in, but at a terrible price:  a professional performance might be great, but it’s more likely to be laced with, or used to advance state propaganda.   

On the other hand, maybe Ohio audiences will tear a page from Texas.  Headline from HotAir:

Two weeks ago 73,000 people watched a fight indoors in Texas.
What’s happened with COVID since then?

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