A lengthy feature in yesterday’s Post-Standard about the Redhouse, the theater/arts depot on West Street, is worth reading.
I was only in the Redhouse once, and very briefly (not during a show) and it felt like a very nice venue. But although the story hints that the offerings at the Redhouse possibly went right over most Syracusans’ heads, I’m still not sure (from the story) who they thought their audience was. This is an important story and I hope many donors and other folks in Syracuse are reading it, because there are many much-ballyhooed local projects in the works along these same lines that could easily come to the same dispiriting end. You can’t just throw “the arts” in a big lump at a people in economic trouble and hope something sticks. Art is good medicine, but “the arts” are not. If you want art to become part of the life of the community (and hence, put butts in seats), and not be wholly subsidized by donors, you really have to present art that speaks to and for specific people in their specific time and place – “here and now.” Maybe in larger cities without economic problems, that isn’t so necessary to bring audiences in.