So with an eye to de-constructing structural theatre the Canada Council created the Extended Project Grant Program
I think that this was a great idea that started to bring the art back to the forefront. Why did I say “was”? Well it has been put under review and applications won’t be accepted until 2010. So that is less than helpful. The program also has a total value of $24,000 to $75,000 over a three-year period.
At the very least this is a program that should go ahead.
I feel that the amounts are truly not high enough but then you would have to weigh the ability of the companies with a light administrative structure to be able to handle greater amounts with the level of fiscal responsibility that would be necessary.
Here in Toronto we have STAF that fills in the administrative gap for a number of smaller theatres.
Thus if you were an extended project client using STAF you would have to pay STAF out of your grant which, depending on your grant amount, may eat up too much of the necessaries so to speak.
So what if we looked at combining some of these functions?
#1: Increase the amounts in the EPG and have that money be directly earmarked for the artistic process.
#2: Using STAF as a kind of a template, have a number of administrative companies formed to handle that side of things. They would not be paid by the client company out of their grant but out of a separate amount that would come directly from the councils. Since, I believe, that any amounts over $20,000 need to be fully audited these admin companies would be fully responsible for the timely dissemination of money as well as all the tracking.
The OAC has been working on the creation of a new audit template as well as a chart of accounts that would allow for a common bookkeeping process.
So we could have smaller artistic alliances created, funded at a good level as well as achieving solid fiscal accountability. But the big gain would be in the freeing of the creation process in a new and dynamic way.
Artists could choose to build a mayfly company, invest fully into it and then leave with a body of work not with an outdated structure. This may be one way to start to ease the gridlock that is stifling the theatrical ecosystem as it now stands.