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The Right To Fail

May 20, 2009

It might seem odd for a theatre critic to say this, but I believe it to be true: Every artist has a right to fail.

The system, of course, doesn't support failure. Producers don't want to back flops; audiences don't want to sit through them; and critics snap their pencils in disgust when a work of art doesn't meet their expectations.

But failure is important. Without it, artists can't grow and our feeling for the culture around us remains stagnant and quickly becomes predictable.

So I have a lot of admiration for producers who invest in artists rather than individual works of art, and take a big picture view of the art-making process. This quality is especially rare in these tough economic times. It is my view that if -- and this is a big "if" -- a producer's gut instincts about an artist are correct, then, more often than not, the successes will far outweigh the failures in the long run.

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