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Matthew Richter 1

Unfortunately my phone battery has given up the ghost today after logging more than a few hours discussing this. So let me just say here that we were very sad to have to make this decision today.

Storefronts Seattle is a neighborhood activation program, bringing artists' work to vacant storefront windows and activating the streetscape. See for more. We've activated more than 25 storefronts in 5 neighborhoods with dozens and dozens of projects by serious contemporary artists.

The work in our program is vetted by representatives from neighborhood groups, property owners, and arts professionals, and we're fairly strict in the application of a General Audiences litmus test for programming. These are windows that are, by their nature, very much in the public realm, and the work we present has to be appropriate for any 4- or 5-year-old to see. We obviously have no way of controlling access to our work, and so it has to be appropriate for all to access. I am clear about this with all of our partners, artists, funders, and properties.

We had assurances from Spectrum that this was the case with The Miraculous Mandarin, but after last night's performance it was clear that the work was, in fact, not as it had been represented to us. It was just too sexually explicit for the young kids who were running through the park last night, and therefore too sexually explicit for our program.

I think that often, when people talk about work intended for "mature audiences," they really mean the opposite of that -- they mean that it's titillating work designed for immature audiences. I think that Miraculous Mandarin really is designed for a mature, thinking, savvy audience. I think that the sexuality in the show was used for actual dramatic effect, and I hope that the intended mature audience gets to ultimately see the show. But the Storefronts Seattle program was simply the wrong venue for the work.

Matthew Richter
Storefronts Seattle
matthew at shunpike dot org
Posted by Matthew Richter on May 18, 2012 at 5:38 PM · Report this
As if Chinatown is a place for a child any other day of the week. Please.
Posted by UberAlles on May 18, 2012 at 7:41 PM · Report this
Matthew Richter: Response much appreciated.
Posted by Jen Graves on May 18, 2012 at 8:05 PM · Report this
Matthew Richter: You're lame.
Posted by seven on May 18, 2012 at 9:53 PM · Report this
I went to Hing Hay Park tonight very much anticipating seeing The Miraculous Mandarin, only to be intercepted by a SDT staffer who informed us that it had been cancelled. She had to repeat to me three times that Matthew Richter had shut down the performance because he felt it was too disturbing to be seen by the people in the park. I am stunned. This cannot be the same Matthew Richter who has spent his career in Seattle spearheading challenging art at every opportunity. To peremptorily close down a work of art without spending any time exploring other possibilities to accommodate concerns that may or may not have arisen is ...crazy. I felt such a sense of dislocation that I thought possibly it was a bad dream, like that day you heard that Bush had been elected and you thought "No, I must just temporarily be in some alternate evil universe and soon all will be right.". I hope we are not living in a place where our arts leaders, and yes, I want to think of you that way Matthew, are censoring our creativity before the fact, just in case it could prove to be too much for us to handle. Spectrum Dance Theatre brilliantly and generously gave their resources to the community, and to Storefronts, at considerable expense to their company, only to be told that Seattle can't handle it. I cannot believe that is true, and the saddest thing is that Seattle no longer has an opportunity to find out for ourselves.
Posted by katesea on May 18, 2012 at 11:17 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 6
Posted by Max Solomon on May 19, 2012 at 7:26 AM · Report this
Maybe Spectrum could have been more honest with Storefront about the content of the show. But if anyone at Storefront is familiar with Spectrum they would know to expect challenging, mature content.

Someone must have dropped the dime, and Matthew Richter is taking the heat for it.

Posted by tabski on May 19, 2012 at 8:36 AM · Report this
Implied nudity? How about implied rape, exploitation of women, sexual slavery, and violence? Although expected that the hipster sets trendy embrace of the modernist classical music genre would carry over to the choice of such a sordid tale for its obvious relativity to our modern culture for several reasons, it seems more than obvious why they should shut this road show down. And it is surprising that you Ms. Graves, who consistently cries out against these types of issues advanced in the Arts would not speak up. As interesting and powerful as this may really be, it sems grossly inapropriate in this venue, and too obvious I might add. You must draw the line somewhere, shock value or not, and you are showing up a hypocrite.
Posted by sticksnstones on May 19, 2012 at 9:06 AM · Report this
For venues to see implied nudity, implied rape, exploitation of women, sexual slavery and violence, how about any number of shows by say, Beyonce, Ms. Spears,-insert name of pop diva here- and oh yeah, when did Miley Cyrus go from 'Hanna Montana' to 'Wanna Mountya'? All this performance was going to do was bring a mesmerizing eye to bear on what is really going on...too close for comfort? See Geoffry O'Brien's piece "Rapture of the Silents" in the May 24th NYRB to possibly understand why a narrative dance staged in a storefront behind glass might just move the viewer deeply. I don't see why such an impact is a bad thing. When I was reading comments about this incident, one of the banner ads on a site was for a women's body building show, and the subject in the picture had on a suit made of three pieces of material about the size of Dorito's chips, covering her nipples and her pubic hair, if she actually had hair there, which it was very clear that she did not. This ad and show, seen by many thousands, is okay, and a dance, that if extraordinarily lucky would be seen by maybe hundreds, is not?
Posted by katesea on May 19, 2012 at 9:38 AM · Report this
@9. Two wrongs do not make a right .
Hypocrisy is still hypocrisy.
Manipulating and adopting a ballet long cursed and riddled with censorship and scandal from an era of negligent womens rights and left over Victorian ideologies as your neat trick to attention and importance is not the path to take here. Did anyone pose the issue of restorative authenticity and intent? Score priginality? Etc. etc. When you strip away all the past historical aspects and foundation of great innovation What are you left with here? A publicity stunt? Mediocre modern dance? Pretention? Modern fable? The game is made many way ways and this likely wasn't one of the legit examples.
Posted by sticksnstones on May 19, 2012 at 12:50 PM · Report this
People: Please stop confusing this sort of thing with "censorship." This is not the government restricting speech. This is an arts organization making reasonable concessions to community standards of acceptable public content. In fact, accepting a modicum of responsibility for preventing childrens' inadvertent exposure to inappropriate material is one of the strongest arguments against censorship; If arts organizations can honestly state that they have taken reasonable precautions to prevent children from seeing material meant for adults, censorship advocates will be unable to invoke their standard "but what about the children?" arguments.

Posted by Public Storefront Means the Front of a Public Store on May 19, 2012 at 5:00 PM · Report this
Matthew Richter 12
Here's Storefronts' official statement on the cancellation:…
Posted by Matthew Richter on May 19, 2012 at 10:41 PM · Report this
I was fortunate to see The Miraculous Mandarin at Hing Hay Park. I thought it was a brilliant thought provoking performance and more importantly that it related powerfully to its site. Such lives of hustlers, working girls, and sufferers have been and are lived in the ID and on the streets of Seattle. Its strange to live in a culture that has nothing at all to say about children's endless consumption of mindless violence via video games and media, but quails at first sight of human sexuality. Seattle has always had this strange combination of corruption-built with Madame Lou's contributions & gay bar protection money- & puritanism. This work was not always sweet imagery. But it was real, it was known to me, it made visible the lives of invisible spirits of the past and present. They too sing America, as Langston said. The marginalization of the lived lives of the Other, their struggles and survival, seems to continue as usual. & we are meant to be content with yet another celebration of "acceptable" culture. Oh and how many new millionaires did "we" get today?
Posted by harriettubman on May 20, 2012 at 1:19 AM · Report this
oldmanandthesea 14
Storefronts has many problems. I know many artists who were accepted into this program that never received their storefront. They all complain about poor communication with those managing the project. They mentioned months without receiving return emails or phone calls. While this is a great idea, there are far too many problems with the way its being administered. I think further investigation into the entire program would get to the bottom of much of what's going wrong with this project.
Posted by oldmanandthesea on May 22, 2012 at 1:58 PM · Report this
DoMo88 15…

Great news! It looks like Storefronts Seattle and Spectrum have decided to work together on making Miraculous Mandarin a possibility for the fall!! The info regarding venues and dates are still being worked out.
Posted by DoMo88 on June 19, 2012 at 1:21 PM · Report this

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