Saturday, July 19, 2008

Why Mayor Cedric B Glover attended opening night of River City Repertory Theater's Member of the Wedding

There were several reasons why Mayor Cedric Glover attended the recent opening night with River City Repertory Theater. One reason is that he recognized, having worked press events in her honor, that he should recognize award-winning actress Margaret Avery in the best way possible: by attending a performance.

Glover is also an arts appreciator; I have seen him at numerous events at Artspace, for example.

The importance of his attendance at opening night is in the example he is establishing for the public and other community leaders.

I remember when Caddo Schools superintendent Ollie Tyler attended opening night of the symphony season. It was a good night for Caddo parents, students and musicians. She knew the power that lies in setting an example.

Frankly, Shreveport could use more such example-setting by community leaders.

I think if someone from the mayor's office and / or the city council attended opening nights on a regular basis that we'd all be well served. The arts is an industry, after all.

I wish I could say that an example in arts attendance is being set by a large number of business leaders, area college profs and local teachers.

One gigantic example of arts-minded leadership that is being dropped by the powers that be is the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra. Symphony musicians have signed contracts in which they've lost 75% of their pay, says Chan Teague. The SSO board has reached its limit in regards fund-raising and ambition.

The orchestra is a symbol of regional cultural health as well as a business entity. Why haven't more civic leaders made a public push to rebuild the SSO's finances and enhance its place as a regional cultural force?

Tickets to arts events aren't cheap. Nor is a supper at a chic restaurant.
I feel that too many local leaders are content to sup in a bistro rather than to dine on the ideas and brain-awakening experiences available from arts events.

Last week the mayor gave civic leaders permission to realign priorities
in their choices in entertainment - by his example. You know, it's a healthy choice.


Anonymous said...

My husband and I had the honor of speaking with the Mayor at intermission. He spoke highly of the need for Shreveport to have highly visible cultural organizations. Organizations that communicated to the rest of the country that we had a vibrant arts community....the Symphony, River City Rep, The Film Center, The Opera. He expressed his delight in seeing such a exquisitely done production. We did too. Thank you River City Rep.

Anonymous said...

A city's identity is shaped by its cultural offerings and this Mayor seems to understand that. The more Shreveport can project a professional, "big time" image through things such as the film industry, the cyber project, professional theatre, dance companies, etc. the more we will attract industries and people who value those things. Congrats to all the people working on those projects to lift our city's image.

Anonymous said...

Did the mayor buy a ticket? Did he himself purchase it or was it charged to some esoteric government account?

Sure, it's nice to have the "leaders" show up for something. It's something else to have their support be like everyone elses', i.e., money, their money.

No need to look very far to find "leaders" who can talk the talk, but just never quite walk the talk. The challenge is to pay less attention to shallow jestures and more to meaningful support.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Mayor purchased a ticket. He also hosted a luncheon to honor Ms. Avery. Instead of being eaten up with jealousy and envy he actually realized the uniqueness and the specialness of having someone of her caliber acting in a production here.
I guess it's scary for those who are pretenders to suddenly be facing situations that emphasize that. Be happy that he was there and supportive. Be happy that he realizes a professional company is a feather in the cap for a city. Be happy that the city is taking steps to be considered in a quality way as opposed to only having amateurs be the only face of theater. It's time for the fringe people to stop tearing down the people who are being pioneers and are moving things forward.

Anonymous said...

Let's be clear. I doubt the mayor paid himself for any of that, especially the hosted meal. If nothing else, he has been a true pioneer in finding new ways to spend his overburdened budget.

Has it come to this? Has the need for relevance and recognition made the mayor's presence the difference between success and failure?

There has for always been this air of desparation around local performance based arts, at least since the Bob Busick days ended at Centenary.

All of us want to be recognized, and have relevance, but for performance based arts, if the seats ain't got behinds in them, it ain't happening.

Notice what Trudeau said earlier in his lead, to the effect that he wished he could say that other local "leaders" were setting an example in arts attendance. That, it seems, was the point to start with.

No amount of self-righteous finger wagging will change whether or not Shreveport "gets it" when it comes to "arts." Nor will whether the current occupant of city hall attends.

Anonymous said...

The point is that it sends a message to citizens that attending a theatrical production is something to be considered and actually done. Leaders always set examples for those they lead--good or bad.
It's time Shreveport steps up and claims its place and stops accepting the "second class citizen" position its always foisted on itself.
I find it very interesting that anyone in this city who tries to move beyond what already exists and to bring something better is always attacked with the "who do they think they are?" naysayers.

sadie said...

I am deeply saddened by the third posting. Trudeau asked interesting questions and offered some interesting challenges not just to politians but to community leaders in the private sector to set an example by attending the arts (theatre, opera, symphony) and also supporting them in other ways for the benefit of the community. With leadership comes responsibility and leaders need to fulfill that in meaningful, visable ways. AND ALL THAT KNUCKLEHEAD COULD ADD WAS "WHO PAID FOR THE TICKET?" You have got to be kidding. I can't even imagine the thought process that would lead someone to wonder that let alone take the time to put it in writing. That's just sad.

Anonymous said...

The greater risk in this, my home town, is being so bold as to note that the emperor has no clothes on when he rides by.

Naysaying? Nay. Sad? Well, only if the guy didn't spend his own chesse.

Point being, if you really buy (pun intended) what Trudeau was saying, it isn't about spending tax money or other people's money, it's about digging in your own pocket and shelling out sufficient shekels to "support" the arts.

You want a grandstand play? Fine, it's your money. You want an example that actually might motivate potential "supporters" to divert their discretionary funds? I doubt watching a politician perform (no matter how sincerely) will do that.

Anonymous said...

To find negative in his act of attending a play, to ferret out some "down" element in his gesture of supporting his city's first professional theatre company is the embodiment of what is wrong with Shreveport. People like you will continue to see the negative, to eliminate the positive in every step that gets made. What a discontent and sad person you must be. YOU are the cancer that drives away the citizens who want to improve and elevate this city. I pity you having to live that way.

Anonymous said...

All the histrionic spin in the world will not, and can not, change whether your mayor, or anyone else, participated because it was essentially free to them.

Let me argue for you: what difference does it make whether he paid or he charged it to us (via tax money)?

One answer is that it particularizes his gesture to a comment on him, not the production. Which, by all accounts, was wonderful. And that's positive.

Here's another argument you can use: it's his job to make such appearances, and it's OK to spend tax money to do it.

Allright. And if he was just hittin' the clock, what's that say about his comittment?

What drives people away from this town is certainly worthy of more space than this post warrants. Put simply, people like me don't matter enough to create the fabric and texture of this town; your "leadership" does.

And it's the quality of your "leadership" that got my fingers tapping in the first place.

Just the same, it seems a predictable part of blogging that when a nerve is touched, the horns and fangs come out. Ouch, already. But my point remains.