By Katie Kohler
There are more methods for payments accepted today than ever – cash, credit, Venmo, PayPal, Apple Pay and Bitcoin to name a few. Exposure is not yet an acceptable form of payment, however. It won’t buy you a burger or a BMW, but some still consider it a form of compensations for artists.
Matt Durkin and Steve Ziegler have been offered to be “paid” in the form of exposure and have seen others performers like themselves, who are dedicated to their craft, be presented with the non-tangible reimbursement while show promoters collected the cash.
“It’s the biggest lie anyone can tell you,” said Durkin about being paid with exposure.
Durkin and Ziegler took action and started their own production company, the aptly named Starving Artist Prevention, in 2016. They had produced shows before but never under an official title.
“That isn’t right. Why is someone else getting paid off of someone’s art and the person doing all the work gets nothing?” said Durkin. “Our name is tongue-in-cheek. We pay every one that works for us. It doesn’t matter if you’re a stand-up comedian, writer, or director. If you work for us, we take care of you.”
Drawing most of their talent from Montgomery County, both Zeigler and Durkin are writers and performers but perhaps most important to this venture, appreciate the work of others.
“The people we hire are more talented than we are and deserve the stage,” said Zeigler. “We care about the show and invest in it. A lot of promoters don’t care about their acts and treat them unfairly. With us, it’s collaboration. We have a lot of irons in the fire. We are developing a reputation amongst acts in the area.”
Durkin says the pair works well together because he is the “wolf” and Zeigler is the “eagle.”
“Steve sees things and I attack things,” explained Durkin. “It’s the reason we work together so well.
Durkin pointed out a production company like Starving Artist Prevention handles the most boring parts of arts – venues, staffing, boosting social media, and promotion.
“If you love what you do and you want someone to know about it, we are the people you call. You focus on your art and we do the legwork,” said Durkin.
Based out of The Centre Theater in Norristown, over the course of two years Starving Artist Prevention has done twenty productions and an additional ten under the “Durkin and Zeigler” umbrella. The next production ‘AvenueQ’ produced by Durkin and performed by the King of Prussia Players, is coming to the theater in May
“Norristown needs this,” said Durkin. “The only way you are going to rebuild Norristown is through arts and culture. It’s exactly what Manayunk did. They had that and then the bars, restaurants and nightlife”
Supporting local theater is as simple as showing up. Writing a check is great however; Durkin says the performers are putting on a show because they want to share it and they want you to enjoy it.
“They are showing you what they love to do. True community theater isn’t about the money. It’s about time to show them in a different life. Show up and show support.”