Worth Stealing | April 17, 2014
Today’s Worth Stealing idea is Mixed Blood theatre's Radical Hospitality.
Mixed Blood is a Minneapolis theatrical organization that’s been around since the mid 1970s. Their space is a beautiful old fire house converted into a theater. And they work very hard to create a good space for artists but also to be not just in but of their community. Mixed Blood has been a huge asset to the Twin Cities creative community for a long time.
Since 2011, Mixed Blood done something called Radical Hospitality, where they offer no-cost access to any main stage production for any audience member. That means that on the day of the show they have a set of tickets set aside for anyone who shows up and says they want to see a show but can’t pay for a ticket. For Mixed Blood, their Radical Hospitality is a way to remove economic barriers and be truly inclusive in their audience development. Their audience is much more likely to include low-income members, recent immigrants, first-time theater goers, and people who aren’t even sure if they want to see a play.
This is absolutely a risky idea. There’s potentially money at stake as they could sell those seats along with all the others and for the creative teams there is suddenly this increased likelihood of audience members who don’t have experience engaging with live theater, which can be a learned skill. But it’s totally on mission for Mixed Blood and probably more importantly it’s a sincere approach to growing a love for live theater and arts experiences. So it’s an investment in the future of the community and the art form.
Also, from what I hear and read, the Radical Hospitality program has resulted in increased support for Mixed Blood’s programs, increased media coverage for what they do, and a richer conversation with their audience and community. So, by giving some seats away they’ve made the theater stronger, the art stronger, and the community stronger. That seems like a pretty worthwhile investment.
I look at what Mixed Blood has done and I wonder how I could apply some of these ideas to the various projects I work on. For the theater I produce, there seems some obvious lessons. Find ways to make sure everyone who wants to can come and see my shows. But I want to knock down barriers and broaden connections with all the creative things I do. I don’t fully know what that means or could mean, but it’s always on my mind.
Mixed Blood’s Radical Hospitality is totally worth stealing and I can’t wait to find more chances to steal it.