As the December comes to an end, we begin to turn our attention to the unvarnished potential of the new year. What’s next? How do we fill the theatre? Well, my dear pal, Simon Ogden (of The Next Stage) wrote a fantastic guest post for the Praxis Theatre blog last week that has some pretty good ideas.
All of us are in business to do one thing: get bums in seats. And Simon has some ideas about how to make that happen.
Our job at this stage in our development, Independent Theatre, is not to sell our next show. Our job is to use that show to sell our brand of entertainment. And to do that we have to sell each other’s shows as well, with no prejudice, judgment or competitiveness, until the routine of checking out the small-house theatre listings is burned into the consciousness of our respective communities. And if politics are an issue amongst the companies in your particular community, they’re going to have to be the traffic of the stage alone for a while. What do you say?
Simply put, it’s getting smart about marketing that is the key to our evolution. As artists we’re doing fine. Astonishing, even. As business people we suck. We’ve got grossly overworked Artistic Directors handling the creative and the business side of things. We’ve got production budgets riding on one piss-up fundraising party. We’re spinning wheels when we need to fly, and there’s never been a better time to take off. In a tight economy we represent the best entertainment quality for the least amount of money. Period. So we must stop marketing only to our friends, our families, to other artists. 10 minutes on Facebook will take care of that. We must have a dedicated marketer on the staff of every single show who does nothing but sell that show (and thereby the industry), to the community at large outside of the choir, to all those citizens who are always telling me, all the time, that they don’t go out and see theatre because they never hear about it. We need to find more people to tell them about it. And in all probability the third or fourth time someone from our community tells them they should go see a play, they will.
Click here to read the entire post.
Adam at Mission Paradox recently wrote that ‘all artistic decision are business decisions, and all business decisions are artistic decisions.’
I like putting the two mindsets in the same sandbox. If we could get into that mindset, maybe it wouldn’t be as difficult to work toward getting butts in seats.
Thanks, Lindsay. That balance between the artist and the businessperson is, I feel, what a lot of us struggle with. I know I do. Most artists I know are more heavily weighted towards the art, but in order to make a living from the art, they need the business. It’s a constant balancing act…. but one that’s beyond necessary.