On April 30, 2018, the five Co-Producing Artistic Directors (Co-PADs) of the performing arts collective Rude Mechanicals assembled local artists, friends, and colleagues on the site of their former home at 21200 Hidalgo Street in Austin, Texas. Entitled the “Lost Austin Vigil,” those gathered mourned the city’s recent and rapid shuttering of local artist galleries, theaters, and music venues.
In 2017, the company lost their lease on the Off Center, their rehearsal and performance venue of 17 years. The building was bulldozed after the company refused to pay a 406% rent increase. Providing highly subsidized rehearsal and performance space to roughly 120 artists and 16,000 patrons per year, the Rudes and their venue were a staple in the creative community. The Rudes recognized that the loss of their multi-use complex left not only themselves but the Austin artistic community in need of new affordable places to both present and develop work.
The Rudes were able to quickly find a new home dubbed “Rude Studios” in the headquarters of the local paper, the Austin American-Statesman, in May of 2017. Ironically, the space was within the former site of the paper’s recently cut arts desk, which covered visual and performing arts in the Austin area.
Launching a multi-venue mobile season, crushAustin, the Rudes set out to perform around the city. A new vision was released in a press release, “When space is valued in dollars and cents, when future is reduced to capital accrued, then our most important contribution as an arts organization is to provide alternative ways of engaging in the now.”
In November 2018, the Rudes received a letter from the Austin American-Statesman’s building management. At the end of the year, Rude Studios rent would surge from $5 per square foot to $29 per square foot—a 480% increase. With limited resources and a lot of soul, the company looked to the future. Co-PAD Madge Darlington recalled, “The fact is we're going to be out on our ass on December 31, AGAIN.”
Publication Date: 2019-05-15
Keywords: Austin, Community, Facilities, Organizational Direction, Small Organization
Suggested Citation: Caitlin Volz, "The Rude Mechanicals (2018)," Yale Theater Management Knowledge Base Case Study #18-96, May 15, 2019
Teaching Notes: Yes (contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
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