Did you come out to see Hotel Burlesque? If you did, THANK YOU! I really appreciate your support and I hope that you had a great time at the show. No, didn’t make it? Well, I am sorry for you. In my (I know biased) opinion, it was a really great show and well worth the time and money to attend. It was a fun, entertaining show developed and written by the cast – a unique process that supported our cast’s character and act development as well as promoting general originality and creativity in the arts. Which brings me to my topic of the day: supporting the performing arts.
Maybe burlesque is not your thing. I get that. (You probably get my newsletter and read my comments just because you adore me and/or my extended musings on strange topics.) But, there are many other performing arts out there that you can support… theatre, dance, music (whether orchestral or punk rock or anything else in the genre….) Performing arts are not tangible – they don’t stick around forever. Sure, they can be recreated… or recorded… but every show is a little bit different and there is truly an ephemeral quality to the performing arts that doesn’t exist when you have a tangible artistic product, like a painting or sculpture.
So, how can you support performing arts? Most importantly – SHOW UP! Be there, buy a ticket. It means so much to a performer to have friends, family, coworkers, etc. show up, be present, and be supportive. It feels good. Even better than just physically sitting in the audience is to be mentally present – be focused, be aware, be in the moment. Without an audience, performing arts are just another rehearsal. Countless hours of development, costuming, practicing, go into a show – into this fleeting moment that you see on stage. And every show is different – of course, part of that is because of the performers themselves – you can’t be exactly the same every night. But the other part is the audience. A performer feels the energy of a rapt, engaged, interested audience: Even if that audience is a silent audience.
Hard to get to a show? I understand that, too. I travel for my “real job,” and teach classes, and perform and sometimes my schedule doesn’t allow me to attend a lot of other shows – but I know it means a lot to performers when I can be there. If you can’t attend, be honest about it and why. And don’t make false promises or fake comments. One of my coworkers professed to me that she was very “proud” of my burlesque performances, but she had never been to a show and never seen me perform. Frankly, I blanched a bit at her comment. What did she have to be proud of? She had nothing to do with me or with my performances and she didn’t even know if I was a complete klutz on the stage. I have friends who are religious and have not come to see me perform because I show my tits on stage. I understand and thank them for being open and honest with me.
So, if you can, pull yourself away from the television once in awhile. Those shows will repeat. They can be recorded. It will be the same the next time you watch it. (Although, I admit any commercials could change.) In live performance, every show is a little bit unique, a little bit different. You add to the chemistry of the show, to the difference. Expand your horizons and try something new.
Other ways to support include paying the price of a ticket. If you can’t come, you can still help support the show financially. Money is great. Non-profits always need money. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Donate $1 or $5 to the artist or the non-profit. (It may even be tax deductible, for example DIVAfest is a 501(c)(3) and donations are tax deductible.) Costumes, sets, performers, life – all of these things are expensive.
Don’t have money? How about other gifts of time… Help with costume creation, volunteer to do box office or help back stage. Help build or paint sets. Donate prop pieces. Even just watching video and giving feedback (helpful, constructive criticism IF requested) can be a helpful tool for performers that just requires a little bit of your focused time and effort.
How about random stuff you don’t want? Donate your stuff and make a non-profit a beneficiary. For example, I take my cast-offs to Community Thrift, 623 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA. The sales they make go to support non-profit entities. You can specifically target a non-profit for your donations (for example, as a DIVAfest Board member I now target DIVAfest for items I donate), but if you don’t specifically designate, any funds made will be split among the non-profits that they help support.
Like to eat and drink? A lot of non-profit entities have fundraisers. These may have entertainment or not, but are primarily an opportunity to hang out somewhere nice in your nice outfit and eat and drink. And we all need to eat and drink sometime, right? So, you are spending money eating and drinking that you would spend anyway, but are now also getting to support a non-profit. Win/win situation!
(Note: DIVAfest is having a fundraiser event on Sunday, May 22, 2016, 5 to 8PM, in a beautiful private home with amazing views locate on Telegraph Hill. More information on this below or at http://www.DIVAfest.info.)
My intent here was not to make you feel guilty –(well, maybe make you feel a little bit guilty….) But more importantly, to let you know that we need and want your support, no matter what form that it ends up taking. Without your support, without the support of other people in the public, live entertainment will cease to exist. And then we would all be sad. And all of those people who use performing as their means of income or as their outlet for creative expression would be sad and then angry and then we could totally lose our minds. And then we might hurt people. And that could include you… so support the performing arts and keep everyone happy!