Collaboration is the byword for many
arts organizations today, especially theaters where financial support is
tough to obtain and ticket revenues are seldom enough to support the
cost of productions. By working together, economies can be achieved and,
in some cases, multiple constituencies can be activated.
A dozen years after Ed Stern's arrival in Cincinnati to take over the creative reins at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the theater company finally was recognized by the Tony Awards for fostering new plays, building a subscriber base envied by theaters in larger cities and reaching out to several hundred thousand young people annually, the audiences of the future. Stern is quick to deflect praise from himself to those he works with and to the community the Playhouse serves. But he's played a leading role in tandem with Playhouse Executive Director Buzz Ward.
Staff positions have taken the biggest hit as Cincinnati's arts and cultural institutions hunker down to survive the recession. Some organizations have adapted through deliberate attrition, while other belt-tightening measures have included shorter hours and curtailed programming. "It's a painful time," says Raphaela Platow, director of the Contemporary Arts Center. The bright side (surprisingly, there is one) is that attendance is up for many organizations.