Thursday, August 6, 2009

keep moving on: the skylight artists

the skylight: random thoughts on where we go from here.

are you tired of me being a bratty actor? i sure am.

only a moment to look backward, because we're all about looking to the future now. but in all the back and forth on the skylight situation, on this blog and elsewhere (and there's been some amazing stuff today, here and here) it's good to keep in mind that throughout this whole saga, the folks who gathered in protest were not just "the hired help" as has been suggested.

the crowds at catalano square, the protests outside skylight board meetings, and the gatherings in neighborhood backyards and at local coffeeshops were not populated by artists alone, but also by the local arts journalists, other milwaukee non-actor/non-skylight theater professionals, major donors, corporate sponsors, grant adjudicators, season subscribers, skylight staff members, skylight board members, board of advocate members, audience members, visual artists, musicians and more.

a vast majority of those folks don't qualify for the "hired help" moniker.

"what will the artists do now?"

there was a lovely quote about this, on today. and truthfully, how can "the artists" help the company financially? how can they help heal the rift that's developed?

here are a couple of things they're doing: first, they're coming back. in droves. the performers and designers who had withdrawn their contracts for the 50th season are signing up again. subscibers are gonna get the season they paid for.

artists are already busy arranging benefit concerts, recitals, and cabarets. they're donating their time, talents and energy in any way they're called upon, and i would continue to challenge every skylight artist, past, present and future, to do the same.

i'm personally working on a two separate projects, one for early 2010 that i'd like every milwaukee singer i know to be involved in, and one in new york involving new york based skylight alumni. more details on both events another time.

wanna be part of a skylight benefit? sign this petition.

tomorrow – keep moving on: the skylight board


  1. In addition to mounting these benefits, let's all work to sell more season subscriptions TODAY! Let's keep the Skylight box office busy!

    Something I've been wondering about............ wasn't "Skylight Opera Theatre" changed to "The Skylight" to more correctly reflect the diversity of the season's offerings? I was told that our former managing director chose to change the name back. To whom should I make out my check?

  2. Good ideas. Now that the proper people are in place to overhaul the business model upon which Skylight operates, it's the artists who can create (repair?) the good will of the company. We have a unique position to do outreach, to use our gifts to foster more involvement with the community so that Skylight remains a vital, GROWING part of Milwaukee. I would guess that each of us who has protested, written letters, signed petitions, met in Catalano Square, blogged, and commiserated on Fbook would be willing to give a little something back in time, talent to refill that reservoir of community support and involvement.

  3. As a subscriber, but a person (sadly) devoid of artistic talent, is the help of people like me needed for these benefits? I didn't want to sign the petition since it seemed aimed at artists, but I could certainly help with set-up, clean-up, anything else that doesn't require artistic talent. And I would guess there are others like me out there willing to help. Thanks!

  4. Tony I just wanted to thank you for the time and energy you have spent keeping all of us in informed, organized and motivated. Your blog has been appreciated by everyone involved with the Skylight. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

  5. Hi aj!
    Sign the petition and offer your services. There's plenty to be done and many pairs of hands needed. You don't need to be an artist. :)

  6. Again, I'm just an onlooker watching from afar, but I'm struck by one thing that the Skylight artists might do well to keep in mind as you keep moving on.

    It comes out of a comment made by "formersotemployee" in an earlier thread:

    Third, although so many consider Skylight a "family", it really isn't. It has become a club, a fraternity, a sorority, a clique, a closed society. If you don't fit in from day one, you never will. ... In my experience, Skylight was the coldest and most unfriendly place I have ever worked. I couldn't get far enough away from the closed attitude."

    Mind you, even before the whole coup d'etat mess started, I had heard or read comments from performers who adored working at Skylight. So clearly this person had an unusually bad experience for some reason, and the bitter taste is still in his or her mouth. But those comments do point up a real danger.

    It's obvious from the comments on this blog and the meetings in Catalano Square and such that many people in the Skylight "family" have known each other and worked together for quite some time. You're a close-knit group - working hard together on projects where lots of psychic income compensates for low pay does that to people. And when you're a longstanding, close-knit group with lots of common past experiences, it's really easy to forget about making colleagues who come in from elsewhere feel welcome. (It's easy to forget about them, period, because you're caught up with each other.)

    I'm not saying that shutting newcomers out or forgetting them is commonplace at Skylight. I'd have no way of knowing. But I've been in similar situations - on both sides.

    So, as you folks at the Skylight go forward with raising money to get through the financial squeeze and putting the 50th anniversary season back together, don't forget about any new colleagues. Take 'em out for a beer and pretzels (or hot jasmine tea and a creme brulee). Fill 'em in on the old stories you have in common with each other - letting people in on gossip (especially actors and singers) always helps with bonding, right?


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