Monday, July 27, 2009

Mondays are Dark

We Mean Everyone...
Everyone has had a rough year: the Star Tribune reports that even the venerable Guthrie Theatre, which literally created the term "regional theatre" and provided the model for the industry, posted its first deficit in 14 years.
By September... ticket sales headed south and never recovered. Even "A Christmas Carol" failed to make its box-office target. Overall last year, 463,412 tickets were sold, a new high that was up 9 percent from the previous year. But the number of performances was up 19 percent, translating into greater capacity, and the number of free or deeply discounted tickets rose 23 percent to 68,698.
You Can't Afford to Wait.  Really.
The Palm Beach Daily News reports that the Kravis Center, Florida Stage, and the Palm Beach Opera are adopting "demand-based pricing."  That means that once ticket sales hit a certain threshold, ticket prices start going up.

"When people want to get a hot ticket, they're willing to go to scalpers and secondary ticket sellers and pay $300 per ticket, and they don't bat and eye," (Todd Stuart, senior director of marketing for Broadway Across America's Southeast region) said.

Producers and presenters began asking themselves why they shouldn't get a piece of the action

Typical increases are $5 a ticket, and most organizations leave the cheapest seats along.

Uh, oh...
Diacritical reports that simply selling tickets isn't enough.
If you believe your business model is the classic consumer transaction (I make the performance, you buy the ticket) then you're done. Sorry. That's a Manufacturing Economy mindset, and while it worked when choices were limited, now that you're competing in the infinite marketplace offering 8000 or 8 million choices, it's increasingly unlikely that your "audience" is going to choose you as often as they did in the past.
The gist of the article is that to succeed, we need to build a community. Word-of-mouth has always been the best method, but the smart producers are finding ways to use social media - blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. - to extend the reach.

Speaking of Twitter
The Baltimore Sun reports that the National Symphony will be offer program notes over Twitter during their July 30 performance at Wolftrap.
“I have designed the tweets to go perfectly with ideas I have about the piece as I conduct it but also some interesting commentary to go along with the sights and sounds of Beethoven's day in the countryside: an adult musical pop-up book written for first timers and concert veterans alike."   - NSO Conductor Emil de Cou
However, only people watching from the lawn surround the outdoor theatre can participate, as electronic devices are not permitted to be used in the main house of the facility.

The Counter-Argument
It's no secret that the Theatre Scene feels that newspapers hurt themselves by failing to cover the arts.  But The Playgoer has a different take on it:
...maybe its time to embrace this "disaggregation" for arts coverage. We've already contemplated the bleak scenario of a theatre and theatre companies without newspapers to advertise, promote and cover them. But why wait until it's too late? It's time, maybe, for arts coverage--the kind of good, rigorous, analytical, and truly critical arts coverage featuring many different voices that's already been absent a long time from our "general interest" media--to go solo.
Maybe.  But a newspaper supplies a lot of resources beyond a salary - and that salary is important, too.

The Maltz goes to the Music Festival
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre is excited to announce that two-time Tony nominee, John Carrafa, will lead the team of Academy as its Director which will be part of the 2009 New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF)'s Next Link Project. Originally part of the Maltz Jupiter Theatre's inaugural Emerging Artist Series in Musical Theater Playwriting, Academy will perform in New York October 6 - 17, 2009 at NYMF.
Congratulations to Andrew Kato, who conceived and developed the piece for the Maltz Jupiter Theatre.

New Stuff
Alexis Scheer of The Playground reviews The New Ones, a collection of five original plays produced by New Theatre in conjunction with New World School of the Arts.  The show has come and gone, but Scheer's review is a good read.

Scheer also tells us about The New Play Project, in which high school students write, direct, and act in plays of their own choosing.  And if that weren't enough, they're performing them to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. See The Playground for details.

Lining Up for Sexual Perversity
Actors, that is.  The Alliance Theatre Lab is overwhelmed by the response to their call for auditions - a month out, and two-thirds of the available slots have been booked.  But they do still have slots left, so call now if you're interested in working in this Mamet masterpiece.

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