Put the Creative People on Salary

Sarah Benson, one of the co-directors of the Off–Off Broadway theater Soho Rep, remembers just when she hit her panic point this summer. In one week, seven artists she knew announced they were abandoning theater and New York. “They were leaving the field because they couldn’t afford it,” Benson says. “Artists and colleagues and friends literally couldn’t afford to be here.” As an institution, Soho Rep had managed to secure some grant income, allowing the small theater to maintain all its staff positions while hunkering down and weathering the storm. But with artists leaving the city en masse, Benson and the theater’s other directors, Cynthia Flowers and Meropi Peponides, realized that the same storm was washing their community away. Why save money if there was no one to save for? So instead of “shrinking and containing,” says Flowers, they and the board agreed to use their annual budget to take

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