The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

Biz Books moves to online-only operation June 30, 2010

Filed under: Business of Arts,Business relationships,E-book,Life — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:16 am
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Last week I got a very sad phone call from Cat at Biz Books.

She had made a very difficult decision. She had decided to close Biz’ storefront operation, and to make it be an online store only.

My relationship with Biz Books goes back at least 10 years. One of my very first publicity gigs was for an all-female version of Glengarry Glen Ross, and I remember seeing an ad for Biz in the program, and the producer handing me a card with the name “Bronwen Smith” on it.

A couple years later, Bronwen was cast in a play I was producing and acting in, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, and today, she is part of my inner circle of friends. I have been jealous of Bron’s job as the manager at Biz since I can remember–what a perfect job for an actor–but now she’ll have to figure out what’s next for her.

Bronwen helps to hype up my book at Biz

I remember their old location in the super dodgy part of E Cordova, with the theatre space right next door, and being so happy for them when they got their new, current location on the corner of Cordova and Cambie.

Cat and Bronwen and the gang at Biz did more for our film and theatre community than just supply us with audition monologues and copies of the plays that the Arts Club was doing this year. Biz was a central hub in our community. There was seldom a time when I’d drop in when there wasn’t someone there I knew, or someone would come by that I knew. They ran workshops, hosted parties (remember Harry Potter releases?), and employed some of the city’s finest actors while they were building a career.

Cat has been incredibly supportive of my own work, hosting a free social media workshop, and selling copies of my book.

While the show will go on on line, I for one will miss dropping into the store to pick up a book, or just to say “hi” to the gang.

Thanks, Cat, Bron, Carrie, Spence, Brian, T, Mel, Shane and Carol.

Here is Cat’s official announcement:

After almost 14 years of being a physical hub for Vancouver’s film, television and theatre communities, we at Biz Books have decided to close our Cordova Street doors and focus on the window to the world that is the internet.

With all of the many changes in filmmaking, television creation and theatre production… not to mention book selling, it has become apparent to us that we need to refocus ourselves on providing you fast, cost effective access to the best and newest resources available and not to be distracted by maintaining a brick and mortar store. Over these past 14 years, the collective efforts of some of Vancouver’s best and brightest actors and writers have come together to build the 10,000 strong Biz Books community. We have loved your visits, support and patronage, and thank you for that and hope that it will follow us to our online store where we plan to continue.

What is changing?

We are closing 302 West Cordova Street on August 15th. We will then be conducting all of our business from our online home at http://www.bizbooks.net

What will continue?

The many things you love about Biz Books will continue on BizBooks.net. Our efforts to bring you the latest and greatest in the areas of film, television and theatre as well as our active role in bringing you the classes, workshops, book launches, author readings, events and contests that you have come to appreciate from our variety of industry partners and presenters.

Where are we going?

We will still be based in the Greater Vancouver area but will not be maintaining a retail space. We will continue to grow our stock levels so that fast local shipping and our presence at many local classes and events will provide you great access to books and software.

Why now?

With all the many changes to Gastown we have been hearing from customers about the challenges they face in coming to see us. Looking towards the future, we do not see those challenges getting any easier or the costs for maintaining a retail space in this neighbourhood (or frankly any in the Lower Mainland) being at a level that any independent bookseller could shoulder, much less one whose customers have had such a challenging few years keeping themselves going.

What about the staff?

Over the years, Biz Books has been so very fortunate to have had the time and talent of so many great people focused on building it. It is with a heavy heart we realize that we will no longer be able to provide regular access to the incredible knowledge of Bronwen Smith, Jennifer Spence, Carrie Ruscheinsky, Teresa Weir, Melanie Walden, Brian Sutton, Carol Hodge and Shane Kolmansberger. We know that they are a huge reason that we have gained the support of so many of you and thank them, with special appreciation to Bronwen for her incredible efforts during her time at Biz (How could we ever sum up her 13 years!?!?), and we wish them all well with their future endeavours. They were the heart of Biz on Cordova Street and they will always be in mine.

We also want to recognize the contribution of the group we lovingly refer to as the “Biz Books Alumni”: Patricia (without whom we would have never opened!), Harlan, Kyle, Cam, Eileen, Jason, Alexa, Gillian, Sydney, Daniel, Melanie, Alana, Jane, Kristin, John, Stacie and Jazmin.

And while we are thanking people… Dave at Webbervision, Ian at Atomic Fez, Rebecca at Rebecca Coleman Marketing and Media Relations, Jasper at NovaCurrent Creative Solutions, David Cowan, our computer genius, my fantastic in-laws Herm & Shirley (for building all of the beautiful wood fixtures that helped to create such a cozy atmosphere here) and our wonderful landlords JP & Barbara… thank you so very much for all of your support over the years and for your kind wishes for us on our new phase.

We are planning a sale to start on July 2nd (we will of course be closed for Canada Day July 1st!) so stay tuned for more details on that and also, please use your gift cards before August 14th or bring them by to have them converted for use on our online store – again before August 14th!

And now the invitation part….

Our last day of operation on Cordova Street will be Saturday, August 14th and we are planning on it being a celebration so we invite you to come by for our BizBooks.net Going-Online Party!

Thanks for 14 great years on Cordova Street and we’ll see you out and about at events in the community and of course, at BizBooks.net!

Cat

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Win Tickets to the Opening of Twelfth Night! June 28, 2010

Filed under: Contest,Local Shows — Rebecca Coleman @ 5:56 am
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And now for something a little different.

If you go a little further down the beach from Vanier Park, you’ll find the Jericho Arts Centre at the entrance to Loncarno Beach.

Put together by a dedicated group of up-and-coming actors, William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, produced by What You Will Equity Co-op, opens Friday night.

Here’s the official blurb:

What You Will Equity Co-op is pleased to present one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies: Twelfth Night. Mistaken identity and gender confusion all figure actively in this Twelfth Night, set in the Victorian Era and an llyria that evokes the British Columbia of the 1890’s. Twelfth Night runs July 2 to July 24 at The Jericho Arts Centre.

Twelfth Night starts with a stormy night and a shipwreck, followed by cunning capers, concealments and mistaken identities: all resulting in a love tangle to rival no other, and a whole heap of mischief and mayhem in Shakespeare’s most captivating comedy. To anyone who has experienced the suddenness of love, Twelfth Night will always resonate.

Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare’s finest comedies, and with good reason,” says Tariq Leslie, director. “It’s a rich delicious jewel, full of love and light, which also pierces with exquisite agony. Twelfth Night explores love in all its touching and absurd extremes; love that is exotic and familiar, and aching with desire.”

What You Will Equity Co-op is made up of a group of experienced, well-known, younger actors: Adam Bergquist (Sebastian), Trevor Devall (Orsino), Paul Herbert (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Yurij Kis (Antonio), Courtney Lancaster (Viola), Tariq Leslie (Malvolio), Michael Smith (Sir Toby Belch), Ashley O’Connell (Fabian), John Prowse (Feste), Bronwen Smith (Maria), and Lori Triolo (Olivia). Tariq Leslie also directs, and original music is composed by Ross Smith, the lead singer for Edmonton Blockheater. The creative team is rounded out by Tamara McCarthy (Assistant Director), Kyla Gardiner (Costumes, Set and Lighting), Nicholas Harrison (Fight Choreography) and Jethelo Cabilete (Stage Manager)

Twelfth Night opens Friday, July 2nd at 8 pm, and runs through until Saturday, July 24 (Mondays and Tuesdays dark). There will be two previews: June 30 and July 1, all tickets for these shows are $1. Regular tickets are $20, or $15 for Seniors, Students, Equity and UBCP, and are available though Tickets Tonight: www.ticketstonight.ca, or 604.684-2787, or through Jericho Arts Centre: (604) 224-8007 www.jerichoartscentre.com. Wednesdays are pay-what-you-can, available at the door, cash only. There will be only one matinee: Tuesday, July 6 at 2pm. All performances take place at the Jericho Arts Centre, 1675 Discovery St.

Email me at contests (at) rebeccacoleman (dot) ca, and answer this question to be entered into a draw to win a pair of tickets to your choice of one of the July 2, 3 or 4 th performances:

What does Maria’s note (which Malvolio thinks comes from Olivia) ask Malvolio to appear dressed as to show that he loves her?

I’ll notify the winner Thursday night.

For more information, visit www.williamshakespearestwelfthnight.com
Facebook event

Video interviews with the cast

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Becoming a better blogger June 25, 2010

Things have been a bit nutty in my life, lately. I like to get up on the weekends, Saturday or Sunday morning, and bang out 2-3 blog posts for the week over my morning coffee. It’s a method that’s worked well for me over the past few months.

Lately, I’ve gotten off track, mostly because my life was quite disrupted by moving house. But the pile of boxes in my living room is shrinking, and I am starting to feel like I have a handle on it, so it’s back to my blogging schedule.

Recently, to get me “back into the swing,” I read a book called Blog Blazers. It’s written by a blogger, Stephane Grenier, and it is, essentially, a book of interviews with top bloggers like Seth Godin and Penelope Trunk. Stephane asked each of the bloggers the same set of questions, and you would be shocked how many of them had exactly the same answers.

I wanted to share some of the commonalities  and tips that I picked up with you.

What makes a successful blog?

For some people, it’s straight-up stats: how many hits you get per day, how many people subscribe to your RSS feed. For some people it’s money, and for others, it’s influence. Truth is, no one can tell you you are a successful blogger. If you set goals for yourself at the beginning, before you start, and you reach those goals, whatever they are, you are a success. For me, success is a slippery critter. Once I reach one goal, I set a new one. And given that most blogs are abandoned within a few months, just keeping it up could be considered to be success.

What should I write about?

Penelope Trunk said it best: “Find a very popular topic and then write at the very edge of that topic. If you write in the centre, that’s where everyone else is and it will be hard to present something that is unique. If you write at the edge and throw in stuff not totally related to your topic area, then both you and your readers will find surprises in that intersection of the new stuff and your topic.”

In addition, make sure you pick a topic that you are, at the very least, passionate about. And that you have some knowledge of. I don’t consider myself to be a social media expert, but I like to do research, and try to stay one step ahead. Also, write for the reader, not for yourself.

This great article on 25 Styles of Blogging is a great place to start if you are stuck.

Make sure you take lots of time to read other blogs in your niche before you begin, and also spend time going through the archives of some of the great blogs for beginners I’ll list below.

How often do I post?

While everyone agrees that, to build an audience, the more posts, the quicker you go up in Google Search rankings, you have to be realistic. Some bloggers said five times a day (!), and others only post once or twice a week. Post at whatever frequency you feel like you can keep up.

How do I make money from my blog?

A lot of the people in this book make a living from blogging, some into 6 figures. But they all agreed that getting into blogging thinking that you are going to become an instant millionaire is a mistake. I have a big problem with blogs that have pop-ups and lots of flashy ads. Many of the bloggers recommended reading John Chow’s blog. But, honestly, it’s such a turn-off to me that I can’t get past the front page. Whether or not you monetize your blog is up to you–there are certainly pros and cons to both sides. For me, I’d rather have my blog be what it is, and if I can sell a couple of e-books, or book a workshop or a publicity gig from it, it’s fully worth it.

The importance of a good headline

Headlines are incredibly important: in our fast-paced world, a catchy headline could draw someone in over all the others. So, think about keywords when writing your headlines, and you might want to wait to write it until you are done writing the post, so that it better reflects the post.

Top blogs to read for beginning bloggers

Resolutions:

All right, you’re all witnesses. I’ve been blogging now at Art of the Biz since October of 2008, and for a year before that as a guest on The Next Stage Magazine. Reading this book gave me lots of great ideas that I need to implement to improve my blog. So here are my goals:

  • to migrate my blog from WordPress-hosted to self-hosted (I have a meeting with my webdesigner set up!)
  • to integrate more images, and to chunk my posts more. I realize that I have been lazy in that respect, and it sometimes makes my blog hard to read.
  • to integrate more mixed media (vlogs, podcasts) into my blog, so that it’s not all straight text.
  • to implement more strategies to grow my readership (after I’ve moved to self-hosted)
  • More value-added stuff: contests and giveaways.

What’s your best blogging tip?

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Why we need award shows like the Jessies June 23, 2010

Monday night, here in Vancouver, we celebrated The 28th Annual Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Vancouver cultural landscape, The Jessies are our answer to Toronto’s Doras or Broadway’s Tony Awards. They honour theatre excellence over the past year.

You can say what you like about awards shows: that they don’t really mean anything, that they are shallow, that the same people are nominated and win every year.

But what I witnessed Monday night was none of those things.

What I witnessed was unbelievable support for each other, and rallying in the face of some really, really dark and difficult times. I saw a lot of love. I saw a note of glamor in our otherwise “I wear Stage Manager’s blacks” lives. I saw us not take ourselves too seriously.

@SMLois and I clean up pretty good!

Let’s face it, since the first round of arts cuts in August last year, our community has been reeling. A conversation I had with Bill Millerd, Artistic Managing Director of The Arts Club, indicated that they may need to turn to programming smaller shows: 2-3 handers, instead of the bigger-cast, bigger-budget stuff they have been doing. Deb Pickman of the Shameless Hussys joked (seriously) that they can only afford to do one-woman shows from here in, and Ruby Slippers Theatre has put a list of shows that have been canceled on their blog.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned this year from these arts cuts, it’s that we have the ability to come together and make a lot of noise as a community. Our whole is indeed greater than the sum of our parts. And part of what the Jessies are about are celebrating that community and the strength we have when we get together.

We only really get to do this once a year. All the other times, we see each other in our shows, on stage, or at openings or workshops. But this one night of the year, we get to come together and not work and hang out and laugh and celebrate.

For me, the acceptance speech of the night belonged to Anthony F. Ingram, for Shameless Hussy’s Frozen. “I’d like to dedicate this to my dad Gary who fought so hard for me not to do this, and over the last few years has become one of my biggest supporters. He thanked me for showing him that theatre can open your eyes to the world.” He added, “This is not a community–it’s an industry. Maybe if we start calling it an industry, the government will listen to us.”

The full list of the nights winners can be found on the Jessie Awards website.

I’d like to especially congratulate the producers of the shows I got to work on: Touchstone Theatre, Presentation House, and Leaky Heaven Circus.

You can read  Miss604’s LiveBlog of the event here.

And, remember a couple of weeks ago when I said that Laara Sadiq was my favorite in the best actress, small theatre category? Well, she won.

Here is her acceptance speech:

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Fewer clicks=more sales June 21, 2010

Let’s face it, we’re busy. Even more busy than ever, it seems, these days. Just when I think I can’t get any busier, I surprise myself.

What that means, is, if I am able to do something quickly and efficiently, I’m going to do that. When Simon and I give workshops, we call this making it stupid easy. Please don’t misunderstand: I’m not saying that people are dumb. In fact, they are just busy. And you know as well as I do that if you have tried to do something online, and it took more time than you thought, or was more difficult than you thought, you likely gave up in a short amount of time.

For me, the power of social media, and the argument for having multiple social media streams (ie: a blog, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube), is that you meet people where they are. If my favorite social medium is Facebook, I should be able to access your company there. If it’s Twitter, ditto. It’s easy.

It therefore makes sense to me, that if we can make buying tickets really, really easy, that we may sell more of them. Which is why most theatre companies these days have multiple ways of buying tickets: by phone, on line, or in person. Folks can pick the method that works best for them.

Some companies are now developing applications to make tickets available though social media applications. For example, when Disney recently released Toy Story 3, you could buy them directly through Facebook.

Cosmetics giant Avon recently introduced a Facebook-based store for thier “younger” brand, Mark. They did this through a new app that is being developed by a San Fransisco-based company called Payvment.

As of this moment, I can’t find any theatre companies that are selling tickets through their Facebook page, but I’m thinking it’s not far away.

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Managing the Noise: Email June 18, 2010

Filed under: Business of Arts,Planning,Tools — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:12 am
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Last month, I wrote a post on how to mange the “noise” of Twitter.

I’m following that up with a post on how to manage your email.

I get a lot of email. I send more. Email is the main tool with which I run my business. I’d say I probably receive between 50-100 emails a day. And there was a time, a few months back, when my Inbox was up around 2,000, and things were getting missed. It actually caused me quite a bit of anxiety: I’d be out somewhere doing something, and I’d suddenly remember an email I forgot to return! Panic!

But then, last year, I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done. I implemented a new email system, and have had a few months to tinker around with it, and am finding it’s working great for me. I regularly get my inbox to 0, and I have a system in place so I don’t forget to return emails.

I’d like to share it with you.

My email inbox

1. First, you have to deal with your existing inbox. If you are like me, I had a lot of email in there. Know that it’s going to take you a while to get through it, and maybe dedicate an hour or a few mintues every day to getting through it. After you have gotten your inbox to 0, you just need to do this every few days or once a week, depending on how much volume you get. It becomes about maintenance.

2. You need to classify every single piece of email in your inbox. Most email programs, even web-based ones, allow you to create folders in your email. I have a folder for every contract I am currently working on, plus another couple random ones: one for family stuff, one for Michael stuff, and one for “pending” (I’ll explain that in a sec).

3. Start at the bottom of your Inbox, and look at every single email.

  • If it’s dealt with, but contains some information that you may need in the future, move it to the appropriate project folder.
  • If it’s dealt with, and you won’t need any of the info in the email again, delete it.
  • If the email needs a response, and you can respond to it within a minute or two (ie: immediately), then do so, then put it into the appropriate folder.
  • If it requires a response that’s going to take you some time to work out, respond accordingly: “I’ll get back to you on this,” and then place it into the “Pending” folder.

4. Lather, rinse, repeat until your Inbox is 0!

5. Every once in a while, say once a week, go through your “Pending” file and see if there are any emails you can deal with and move out. Once I’ve wrapped up a contract, I just delete the entire email file.

6. I do this every couple of days, but if you don’t have a lot of email, you could do it once per week. Friday is the best day, because it allows you to start your weekend with a clean slate, stress-free (hopefully).

How do you deal with your overwhelming email? I’d love to hear if you have a system that works, or, if you try mine, how you modified it to work for your specific needs.

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Mooooom! I’m bored. June 16, 2010

I few months back, I discovered this new event listing website. As a publicist, I am always looking for new places to flog my client’s shows, so I was pretty excited about this. Then, at a trade show I was doing publicity for in April, I met the gal who started the site, and she’s pretty cool, so I thought I’d introduce her to you.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Anastasia Koutalianos.

RC: Why did you start Nadatodo?

AK: I started www.nadatodo.com out of frustration. I moved back to Vancouver in 2003 and felt like I was out of loop on things to do. Once you’re out of the club scene (which is pretty in-your-face), what does the city have to offer in terms of creative, entertaining events, that are off the beaten track? I had the idea a few years back. While in Montreal over the summer things came together and the vision became reality. Met with some designers (www.elliot-elliot.com) and came up with the look and away it went. Aimed to have it online before the Olympics. Come November 29, 2009, and the site went live. Over time, the site has morphed into more than an event calendar. I also plan and promote (marketing, PR etc.) events involved in the arts. Giving back and getting a ton in return! Ah, job satisfaction.

RC: What is your background?

AK: Pretty diverse I guess. I studied French literature, and History and Political Science at the University of Toronto. Have dabbled in historical research (former Indian Residential School claims), French to English translation, magazine editing and writing, organic farming (my family imports olive oil), marketing, sales, PR, design, taught ESL. Have a cookbook coming out in September (@frmtheolivegrov). A little bit of everything, which has helped with http://www.nadatodo.com .

RC: What is the purpose of the website?

AK: The site serves two communities: the event seeker and the event promoter. With the price of print advertising being so high, it’s a great way to get the word out on any event in the city (play, festival, show, talk, performance)… and for FREE! My goal is for http://www.nadatodo.com to be a one-stop shop for things to do. The site was designed with that in mind. Put all possible events on one site. Pretty simple. That way there can be no more “no fun city” talk in Vancouver. 🙂

RC: If I have an event I am promoting, how can I get it featured on Nadatodo?

AK: Nadadtodo.com is a user-content site. Know of an event that’s not posted? Add it. Got an event you’re promoting? Post it. The more the merrier. Quirky, uptight, too loose, creative, entertaining, boring… whatever and whenever. The purpose of the site is for people to know EVERYTHING that’s going on in town, and to pick and choose where they want to be on any given day or night. Choice is lovely! Simply go to http://www.nadatodo.com , click “Post Event”, register with a valid email and password and you’re good to go. Also, don’t forget you can upload video, pics and comments from any event you’ve attended. Once it’s passed, go to “Past Events” and upload; no registration needed. It’s about sharing, and presenting your events to a wider audience. If something fun crosses my path, I’m quick to let others know. I would love it if people did the same. Plus it’s summertime. No better time to connect and get connected.

Thanks, Stasia!

And the rest of you: no more excuses. There is no longer any such thing as “Nadatodo.”

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