BEST LOCAL IMPRESARIO Minneapolis 2002 - Philip Bither
In 1998 we bestowed the title of Best Local Director upon Philip Bither, the Walker Art Center's performing arts curator, but now, four years later, he deserves a grander accolade. No one around town is provoking audiences the way this guy is. A particularly fine example of Bither's booking work is the recent Out There series: four weeks of uncompromising performance capped by ZT Hollandia's brilliant one-man show about globalism and the corporate conscience, Voices. Bither obviously scheduled this panacea for our post-Enron angst before their corporate brouhaha. But the fact that he did so in the first place demonstrates that he is tuned in to the sorts of social undercurrents that artists are often the first to recognize. So, too, the Walker featured such stirring bookings as Dumb Type's techno-futuristic Memorandum, Roger Guenveur Smith's work in progress Iceland, and the Meredith Monk/Ann Hamilton collaboration Mercy. Bither, through his instinct for meaningful performance, demonstrates that curating is not just a job, but an art form unto itself.