Sunday, March 18, 2012

Midway Mess

I had been wondering what became of Midway Studios, the theatre space where ASP and Boston Conservatory performed a number of shows. 

But the sad loss of the space as a performance venue is only the first part of the story. 

The space was leased out to a company called "Ops-Core", which produces military helmets, and the theatre was apparently turned into a factory of sorts.  This seems like an odd way to utilize a shared living/working space with artists.  I can almost hear the "Odd Couple" theme playing in the background.

But the real interesting story - for me - is the email that the owner of Ops-Core, David Rogers, sent to the artist residents of Midway, who were concerned about the expanded presence of his company in a space designated as a theatre space, as well as the fumes that accompanied their work (which, at one point, forced residents to evacuate the building).  Here it is:

   "The neighborhood “posers’’ are merely . . . drama queens who use art as an excuse to justify and rationalize their pathetic existence while mooching from others to sustain a living.  The majority of the people we are protecting are under 20 years old and have signed up for military service to earn money for college. They are not living off their parents, trust funds, welfare, or mooching off the American taxpayer like many of the residents of this building.’’


So, this guy clearly has NO respect for artists, and no IDEA about what they do/how they make a living. 

That such a person would be ensconced in a space created for a community of artists is pretty frightening.  The irony is that if anyone could benefit from being exposed to art (which, for one thing, can make you more empathic) it would seem to be David Rogers himself.

It also struck me how noble he made his work seem, as if his manufacturing of helmets is a charitable endeavor, rather than a FOR PROFIT enterprise.  That's great that he sees the worth of his work.  But he's making lots of money off those helmets, I would imagine.  So his smug argument about selflessly protecting the young people is a bit hollow, to say the least. 

At a community meeting, artists demanded an apology from Rogers.  He did not offer one.  That's too bad, because it seems to me they deserve one.

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