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Offering a fresh way of helping you keep up with art and entertainment happenings around the Capital District.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

arts garbage

Early this year, in order to save a few bucks, my wife and I cancelled our home garbage pickup. The thought was since she was retired and I have a flexible schedule, taking our own garbage to the dump would no longer be inconvenient.

After several months, we rethought the idea. Having the overflow garbage fill two containers on the weeks we neglected to go to the dump made us reevaluate the decision. Between the annual dump fee, the cost of fuel back and forth, plus the time and the inconvenience, it was not really saving us anything. We returned to our weekly pick-up by an outside organization.

I know my garbage isn't exactly arts related - but garbage is garbage and it does clarify my opinion on the state's proposal to merge NYSTI and the Egg. It's garbage hidden by the claims of false economy.

In case you haven't heard, the proposed state budget proposes joining the Egg and NYSTI in order to save $300,000. I remember the mess this created in the 70s when the Cuomo regime tried the same thing. At the time, NYSTI (then ESIPA) was based at the Egg and the idea of forming a two-headed monster seemed to make sense - at least on paper. However, for many reasons, one of which was incompatible missions, after much off-stage drama, the concept failed.

The failure was Troy's gain as Patricia Snyder moved the youth theater to Russell Sage College. To be clear, while the company was at the Egg, I had problems with some of the choices the company made. One of those issues was the company was seemingly enamoured by large productions filled with special effects. Its producing model seemed to be Broadway which was not my ideal for theater oriented to youth.

That all changed in Troy. I still do not approve of every choice the company makes, but I heartily believe the organization serves it mission well and if this year is a model, it does it exceptionally well. "12 Angry Jurors," "Of Mice and Men" and a Kabuki -styled "Sleeping Beauty" brought intelligent, well-acted theater to the youth (and adults) of our community. Adding to the value of the onstage work, NYSTI has developed an invaluable relationship with Russell Sage College that benifits the students and the public.

If this merger takes place, the state saves $300,000. But the deal demands the post of producing-director be eliminated. The assumption is that one person will book all the shows at the Egg and be the producer of the work performed at NYSTI.

It won't and can't happen. Such an organization will demand a staff that will burn up that $300,000 before you know it.

Budget cuts are needed and NYSTI acknowledges the fact. They appear willing to travel the dual path of reducing expenses and fundraising to accomplish that $300,000 savings. It appears a much more rational solution to the issue.

There are many problems with the proposal. The most obvious is - it won't work and it won't save money. What it will do is reduce the effectiveness of NYSTI.

In other words it's garbage.

If you care about youth theater in Troy, write a letter to the governor and your local state representatives. There is time to stop this from happening, but it will take grass-roots support. Do write or call someone who can help. It really is important.


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