Want Crappy Rochester News? I Got It..

080809_Kodak_Logo Kodak has just posted a second-quarter loss which is staggering, relative to this time last year: 20% down from second-quarter 2008. Oh, that’s not good. CEO Antonio Perez says his company predicts a 1 to 3 percent up-tick in sales by the end of the year, which is far from reassuring.

And not quite as crappy, but crappy nonetheless is news that the Rochester Broadway Theater League is bowing to the obvious and looking outside Rochester for it’s new venue. You may recall – a hazy, foggy, far off memory, to be sure – that the Renaissance Square project was originally to include three theaters for use by RBTL, MCC and others. Well, that shit ain’t happenin’, is it?

So once again, those in search of culture must look outside Rochester. Great.


Community Centers, Schools and Free Speech

I mentioned this D&C article yesterday, flagged by a reader, about Fairport School District’s decision to say “no” to a production of the play RENT, citing the school’s sense of the appropriateness of the play for a high school. 13WHAM’s Liz Schubert also reports on this story, which seems to be making quite a stir in the two journo’s comment sections.

Let me begin my comments with a slight correction to Liz’s story:

The Parent Teacher Student Association provides the space free of charge, receives some of the profits, and uses that money for student scholarhips.

This is not entirely accurate: high schools are public buildings paid for with tax money. As such, they are free and open to the public with two notable exceptions: during regular class hours and on election nights, where access is restricted. As such, the public has the right to stage whatever productions they see fit inside the building and no special permission is necessarily required. Here in East Rochester, I know of a few people on my street that use the local high school gym equipment on off hours.

At the same time, the superintendent of schools has an obligation to ensure that the public property he’s responsible for is used in an appropriate manner. In fact, when you get down to the nuts and bolts of what a superintendent does, that is precisely his job description. So personally, I am not challenging Jon Hunter’s propriety in deciding what uses are and are not acceptable.

What is objectionable in Hunter’s decision is for a superintendent to arbitrarily decide – based solely on his own interpretation of the content of the play – that the play is inappropriate for public space outside of the school season. What’s worse is what the two subjects cited as beyond the pale for the school are: drug use and homosexuality. What about these two subjects is so innately untouchable? It seems like in this modern world, these are exactly the types of subjects we should be challenging our kids with in schools.


So Much for Community Centers, eh?

A reader of the website, Alan Smithee (if that is his real name, as they used to say on Night Court), alerted me to this article in the D&C. Apparently, taxpayer funded schools get to decide what is and what is not appropriate for theater productions in the summer.

Raises some interesting questions which I would like to discuss further. But it’s Saturday night and the wife is calling me downstairs. Tomorrow, then. . .