The report calls Stages the home of the avant-garde, which is just a nice way of saying disgusting bullshit that nobody wants to pay money to see. Why else is the theatre several years behind in rent? The fact is, the theatre cannot attract enough paying customers to pay its rent.
The report blames the recession for a decrease in donations to the theatre. But the recession started in December 2007, approximately 2 years after Stages stopped paying rent. What was their excuse then? Could it be that they were producing plays that nobody wanted to pay money to see?
Consider one of the items on their current bill: Southern Rapture. Their web site describes this as:
[A] wickedly funny look at the intersection between artists and audiences, and the delicate contract theatres have with their communities.I suppose it might be kind of humorous, but the joke is on the community. The community has been subsidizing Stages for years, in the form of free rent. Apparently, the "delicate contract" is one that can be unilaterally breached by theatres. A contract that is not honored or enforced is worthless. It is not a contract, but merely a pretense. For anyone--Stages, the city, or KPRC--to pretend otherwise is to place their desires above the facts.
The city spokesman in the KPRC report says that the city would not have worked with Stages if it did not think that the theatre "would work". So? The city thought, driven by its politically correct agenda, that a theatre presenting
The interesting thing about this is that it occurred under the watch of Bill White, the businessman turned mayor. If White had operated a business on this principle, he would not have been a businessman for long. If he had owned rental property, and permitted a tenant to avoid paying rent for 4 years without being evicted, his cash flow from that property would have been in the toilet. Which ironically, is apparently where Stages threw its rental agreement. And that is appropriate, given what they produce.
When contacted by the station, the former mayor issued this response:
My administration never indicated that it would be acceptable for Stages to avoid payment of rent.... I was told that the Board was working on a financing plan to either get current on the rent or buy the building. The City of Houston has and does support some of the arts and cultural activities important to the city...This captures the essence of the city's position. Stages was deemed important and its delinquency was tolerated. But important to whom? It certainly hasn't been important to the citizens of Houston--that is evident by the fact that they have not voluntarily paid to attend performances at the theatre. City officials deemed Stages important despite the actions of Houstonians.
Apparently, city officials think that they know better than the citizens (it certainly wouldn't be the first time). Apparently, city officials think that it is important to have an avant-garde theatre, even if nobody attends. It makes us look cosmopolitan, just like light rail. And to city officials appearance to others is far more important than protecting our rights.
City officials have previously used appearance as an excuse to attempt to legislate billboards out of existence. As one anti-billboard advocate put it when the city was considering tougher restrictions on signs, "This will help make us look a lot more like the other great cities in the nation and in the world." The fact that such laws violate our property rights and destroys jobs is irrelevant.
Houston's economy has been one of the most vibrant in the nation for decades. A primary reason for this has been the city's relative respect for property rights. The city has become the envy of "the other great cities in the nation and in the world." But apparently, this is not an image that city officials deem important or worthy of protection.