CMU School of Drama

Thursday, March 30, 2017

At Seattle Opera, the real drama is offstage

KUOW News and Information: In mid-March, Seattle Opera general director Aidan Lang’s assistant called his scene shop manager Michael Moore to request a meeting.

Moore had no idea of the bombshell Lang was going to drop.


Sarah Boyle said...

So someone’s financial numbers aren’t right. I’m very confused about the idea of shutting the shop down for at least two years. How much more is it going to cost to get the shop reopened? (If they do, from the Opera director’s language, I’m not so sure.) How much stock will be saved, how much of the equipment will be kept or sold? And then there is the time to rehire employee who find new jobs in that period. And if they aren’t open, those theatres that hired the scene shop for outside jobs will find another scene shop to work with, and might develop a relationship with that company instead. That there were no attempts to scale back, to bring in fewer artisans on a job by job basis, or to inform the shop manager about concerns before deciding to shut down, seems weird. Why is Lang so much more focused on a new headquarters location instead of a (by some accounts) successful scene shop? I might have been more understanding if he claimed the money was needed for something else about the arts, but this seems administrative.

Claire Krueger said...

The only reason I opened this article was the intense clickbait style description And boy oh boy I wasn't disappointed. While I would completely buy the argument that technology is cheaper and the huge land is no longer necessary, the lack of disclosure of information makes me warey. The distasteful tone of the article and bringing up the Gala for Jenkins which cost upwards of one million leads me to question the bias of the author as well. The lack of sources and the host website only leads me into deeper waters. On one hand The KUOW, Seattle News and Information, wants to give seattle a good name but on the other hand it wants to sell, and nothing sells better than drama. Overall I’m not completely convinced I have the full story about this situation. I’d have to read several other corresponding articles before I decide to take a side.

Alex Talbot said...

This is really too bad. I've hardly heard of Seattle Opera, and I've never heard of what they've done, but regardless, it is too bad that there are budgetary reasons that this has to happen. That said, the article was quite confusing, and I was unsure what to make a lot of the details in it--at first, it said that the shop was breaking even, then gave mixed info on what the finances of the shop were. What also confused me is the need to shut down the shop entirely--it didn't seem, from my understanding, that the opera itself was shutting down, just the shop. So what will the shop do, not have scenery? Or will they just contract from outside shops? I'd love to learn more about what exactly is going on, because to me there's a lot here that is sketchy. Overall, I just don't understand why they can't scale down operations since times are changing, instead of shutting down all operations.

Cosette Craig said...

This is just another tale of a bunch of big shots who were bad at math and/or cooking the books who screwed the good guys over. I want to imagine that this was just a personal vendetta some guy had against the Scene Shop that is finally being fulfilled. Seattle doesn’t seem like a big enough theater city to counteract the shutdown of the scene shop and absorb the employees who lost their jobs in new set ups. This article is also poorly written. It is vague and click-baity but maybe that’s what the situation warrants. It seems like an altogether sketchy situation. Without an in house scene shop, their only option is to reuse or bid out and both of those options have cons that, in my uneducated opinion, seem insurmountable and worse than keeping the scene shop up and running. Its sad to see a theater crumble under some budgetary restrictions.

Megan Jones said...

Even though this article was definitely clickbait I agree with Cosette that this seems like a very sketchy situation overall. When a theatre needs money they're going to have to make some hard decisions about what cuts needs to be made. In my opinion the scene shop should not have been the first thing to go, but I obviously don't know the company as well as the people mentioned in the article. I just don't understand how the scene shop manager and the general director could have such different numbers about the same branch of the company. This leads me to believe that someone was lying or fudging their numbers to make people higher up happy, which is a very problematic thing. It's sad that many people will now be out a of a job because of someone's mistake or greed. Hopefully they can find a way to keep the scene shop open and running, or at least find out where this huge budget discrepancy came from.

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