The Art of the Business

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

Arts Organization Website Essentials: The Main Three Questions September 27, 2010

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Business of Arts,Guest post,Marketing with websites — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:38 am
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A guest post by Brian Seitel.

Recently Rebecca Coleman posted on her blog a link to an article describing the most essential elements of a website for an artist.  Individual artists often have different goals than arts organizations, and as a theatre artist that moonlights as a web developer, I thought I would offer my insights as to what makes a good arts organization website.  It really boils down to three questions that each visitor will have and absolutely must be answered as soon as possible.  I call these the Main Three Questions (how original, right?).

Studies have shown that visitors allow any given website about 5 seconds before they make up their minds about whether they want to stay or not.  That means you have 5 seconds to grab their attention and keep them on the site to hopefully at some point make what’s called a “conversion” — selling a ticket or reservation.  The easiest way to grab a user’s attention is to provide relevant content immediately.  The less clicking they have to do, the better!

They’re rather simple, and when you read them, you’ll probably think to yourself “Of course. Why is he stating the obvious?”  The truth of the matter is that a great many arts organizations focus too much on the blog and getting donations, and not enough on the Main Three Questions.  What are these questions?  I’m glad you asked.  They are:

  1. What piece of art is being produced?
  2. When (and if not an organization with a permanent venue, where) is the production?
  3. How do I get tickets or make reservations?

The absolute number one reason a visitor comes to your website is to see what is currently going on with your organization.  Once they’ve figured out what the event is, they want to know the event location and dates.  If they don’t know when and where it is, then they can’t schedule time to see the show, right?  And finally, once they’ve checked their schedule and realized that they are indeed free that weekend, they’ll want to know where to buy tickets or make reservations.

Here is an example of what I’m talking about:

The Goodman Theatre (Chicago, IL, USA) – http://www.goodmantheatre.org/

As you can see, the biggest, most prominent element on the page is a guy’s face next to the name of the play Candide.  Underneath are the dates and times.  Below and to the left you can see a smaller section dedicated to upcoming plays, and each play has a “Buy Tickets” link. See? Easy peasy.

Some more examples:

The Philadelphia Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA, USA)- http://www.philorch.org/
The Lincoln Center (NYC, New York, USA) – http://new.lincolncenter.org/live/
Vancouver Art Gallery (Vancouver, Canada) – http://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca/
The Fox Theatre (Atlanta, GA) – http://www.foxtheatre.org/

The blog, donate buttons, photo galleries and other things that you put on your site are completely and totally irrelevant until the audience has decided that they want to learn more about your organization.  After all, if I don’t know what you’re producing or if I’m not interested in any of your upcoming events, why would I want to read your bio or blog?

Keep it simple:  what, when, and how?  Your audience will thank you, and your organization will benefit.

Read a longer, more detailed version of this post here.

Brian Seitel: Born nude, helpless and unable to care for himself, Brian overcame these handicaps and became a juggler for a passing circus. After saving a poodle from a burning building by jumping from the fourth floor, Brian gave up the traveling lifestyle and turned to more daredevil routines by spending all his time talking about social media, web development, and the arts. You can follow him on Twitter as @briandseitel.

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Facebook and the Myth of Privacy–Guest Post by Simon Ogden June 4, 2010

Filed under: Guest post,Marketing with Facebook,social media — Simon Ogden @ 6:22 am

By Simon Ogden

When Facebook began its relentless grind towards establishing itself as the central hub of the internet I was just about as skeptical and reactive to the idea as they came. Despite being what is now commonly called an ‘early adopter’ in the world of social media – in my particular niche of the independent arts world, anyhow – it took me quite a while to start a Facebook account. I had jumped into blogging as soon as I could decide on a topic, and right after that I was tweeting away despite the scorn and derision of those around me who were sure it was just all “I like pie, nom nom nom” and nothing else, but FB seemed to me to be a bit insular. Now that I’m on it I get the use of it, of course, but I still think its worth as a business tool is limited to mostly client and fan support rather than growth and outreach, due to the fact that it remains the one network client best suited to keeping published content – our thoughts, pictures, opinions – reigned in to the smallest amount of audience. Our “friends”. It remains the insular paddock of the internet.

Maybe this is why so many people are losing their minds over the topic of Facebook “privacy” lately. Let’s put some perspective on the matter.

You’ll notice I used quotation marks around both the words “friends” and “privacy” just then. This much-misused literary device is used here not to emphasize, but to denote ironic detachment. This, dear friends, is what the post-modern digital age of instant communication has done to these two words that heretofore described our most dearly-held rights from the early days of our respective childhoods. “Friend” no longer means those seven or eight people that you feel most comfortable around, it also means those 371 people that you “added” to your account. And “privacy”? Well, whatever that term used to mean, it doesn’t quite shoehorn into a life spent a great deal of online.

It is important for everyone who uses a computer in order to access the World Wide Web to get clear on one very stark reality of that choice: nothing, absolutely zero % of what you put onto the thing, is private. Sorry. If someone wants to get information on you badly enough, and you’ve put it on a computer somewhere, they can get it. The internet is, in fact, fueled by accessibility. This, in a nutshell, is what is causing a gigantic wave of panic among some Facebook users when they hear that privacy settings are being changed. Again, and again, and again. I see the backlash everywhere, mostly in my news feed from my Facebook “friends”. “Boo, privacy changes, identity theft, instant personalization, boo, (copy and paste in your status)”, on and on. There was some media attention recently on a group that started a “Quit Facebook Day” movement, (note: it is estimated that 31,000 out of the current 450 million Facebook users quit Facebook on May 31–Rebecca) saying in the opening paragraph of their web site:

Facebook gives you choices about how to manage your data, but they aren’t fair choices, and while the onus is on the individual to manage these choices, Facebook makes it damn difficult for the average user to understand or manage this. We also don’t think Facebook has much respect for you or your data, especially in the context of the future.

I don’t think the person who wrote this has much respect for your ability to understand things, nor for your ability to decide what is and isn’t fair. The site goes on to suggest that if Facebook continues to adapt to the ever-changing rules of online engagement and make changes, then it will make the internet somehow “unsafe”. Elaboration isn’t offered, just the vague assertion that harm will come to you. It’s pretty blatant fear-mongering, but it is a fairly concise summation of most people’s privacy concerns with the site. “We’re not really sure what all these changes mean, but we’re pretty sure they’re Evil. Why can’t they just leave it alone?”

I do not share these concerns. But I had no misconceptions of the reach of my social media presence from the git-go, so that probably helps. It has honestly never occurred to me to put something on the internet that I would be ashamed of, or that would compromise the security of someone I care about. It seems there are a great deal of people whose stress level would be helped by adopting this policy. And they should probably let go of the sense of entitlement that lets them use someone else’s program and then dictate to them how they should operate it. The people behind Facebook aren’t evil, they want to make some money by providing a handy service. The price you pay to take advantage of this service is that they target some ads towards you based on your freely provided information, like pretty much every other company on the planet. That’s it, that’s the extent of their evil plans, yet some people insist on treating it like they’re one step away from coming for our children in the dead of night. Do you really care if the name of the city that you live in is floating around the internet? Or that you like horses? What are these people putting out there that they’re so scared of it falling into the wrong hands?

I believe the very concept of losing control of their personal information, no matter how insignificant or banal, is what they’re terrified of. These people are not ready for the world of new media. The way we deal with information has changed forever, never to return. And it happened very fast; speed is a byproduct of technology, which is now the world’s hottest commodity. We reside in a new age, one built upon a foundation of sharing and collaboration facilitated by electronic networks, and it is built upon the rubble of the old paradigm of hoarding information and a doomed “us against them” aesthetic. We have nothing to compare it to, because information has never been shared like this before, in the history of mankind. If the vehicles of this revolution – like Facebook and twitter and email – make you uncomfortable, opt out. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing just because they’re doing it. Everyone else probably isn’t as worried as you are about somebody overhearing what they say when they’re out in a public place.

Besides, you can always see for yourself how well you, the average user, understands Facebook’s privacy controls.

Simon Ogden is a playwright and blogger (The Next Stage) who currently resides in Victoria, BC. We miss you, Si!

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5 Ways to Use Google Analytics to Measure your Marketing Effectiveness: Guest Post by Michelle Strassburg February 24, 2010

Filed under: Guest post,Marketing Ideas — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:52 am
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As a business owner, one of your main goals is to generate sales through marketing, and another is to measure and keep those marketing costs down. Using the free web-based software Google Analytics it’s possible to keep tabs on your marketing expenditure and to measure how well (or not) your marketing is working for you. Most web platforms, from blogging platforms such as WordPress to shopping carts such as OS Commerce offer some type of integration with Google Analytics, so if you haven’t already, start by activating this feature.

Before we start – It is always a good idea to check that you’ve integrated Google Analytics and that the tracking code appears across all your pages. The people at SiteScan offer a diagnostic tool that verifies if your Google Analytics tracking code is installed properly on your website. It’s free and takes just a few minutes to report back.

5 ways to use Google Analytics to measure online marketing:

1. Measure user engagement – When you first start using Google Analytics, chances are you might be somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of information. Therefore, the first and easily understood factor to measure is how well users are engaging with your site. Head to the ‘visitors’ tab and look at bounce rate, time on site and page views per user. If your site is offering the information users are looking for, you’d expect to find low bounce rate and high time on site for example. Of course this will vary from one site to the other, and will depend on the type of information you offer.



2. Measure traffic sources – It is essential to get 360 degree visibility on the level of web traffic you’re getting and the origin this traffic. Head to ‘traffic sources’ menu option and ‘all traffic sources’. Now you will see the different web properties which are driving traffic to your site. You’ll notice that the information is displayed as source/medium. Source is the web property which sent you the traffic and medium refers to the type of traffic. This can vary from organic which is unpaid traffic from google search, to cpc which is traffic from paid advertising channels etc. If you’re paying for advertising for example, it is important through this option to get an understanding of what you’re getting for your buck.

3. Measure your KPIsKey Performance Indicators are a measure of performance which every business can set for itself and in Google Analytics these can be measured through setting up goals. Under the ‘goals’ menu you can set different visitor actions which will count as a goal. If one of your KPI’s for example is to measure newsletter subscription, this is precisely where you would look to measure this goal. Through goals you can measure almost endless user actions which is another reason why I find Google Analytics so useful for tracking and reporting. Setting up your first goal takes just a few minute, start by reading this how-to guide.

4. Measure e-commerce sales and total revenue – Google Analytics has an optional module which users can choose to install called e-commerce tracking. Designed for those business owners selling online, e-commerce tracking will report on the traffic sources driving web traffic to the site AND the revenue generated from each channel. It will also provide useful e-commerce insights such as average order value, conversion rates and could work as a basic stock management system. Google offers a handy one pager how-to guide to set up the e-commerce module, though it is best to use a web developer for this task.

5. Measure almost any web marketing channel – On top of the predefined traffic channels you’ll find in Google Analytics, you can tag almost any web traffic channel which will be displayed in your account. By adding a few tracking variables to any URL using this tool, Google Analytics can highlight this URL as a traffic source and report on its quality in terms of bounce rate, user interaction and e-commerce transactions. It’s possible to track social media traffic, traffic from Ad Display campaigns and recently also traffic from your RSS feed.

I hope you found my tips useful.

– – –

Michelle Strassburg ia the marketing director at Wood and Beyond, sellers of hardwood floors and kitchen oak worktops. Michelle has over 10 years experience managing online marketing.

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How to Measure Effectiveness of Your Marketing Campaigns (Guest Post by Gagandeep Singh) December 7, 2009

Measuring the effectiveness of marketing campaigns is imperative to determine how successful it is. But still, most business owners don’t track their marketing campaign results and keep on spending their money, without knowing whether the campaign is effective or not. Measuring the accurate performance of any marketing campaign is very difficult but with the following tips you can easily collect enough information from your marketing campaigns to take informed decisions.

Select Metrics: First of all, you need to specify which metrics you will use to measure the success of your campaign. These are determined by the objective of your marketing campaign. For example, if the objective of your marketing campaign is to increase blog readership, then number of subscribers should be used as metric. But if the objective of your marketing campaign is used to promote your Brand, then you could use surveys as a measurement to know about the improvement in popularity of your Brand after the campaign.

Predict Results: It is impossible to predict the results of a marketing campaign unless it is completed, but you can speculate what results which you think can be achieved at the end. Many business owners just say, “we want to increase blog readership, let’s place ads.” This is a very unscientific approach which could create difficulty in measuring effectiveness at the end. Be specific with your predictions. For example, say “we will increase blog readership by 30%.”

Divide and Measure: Each marketing campaign targets various locations and uses different sources like online ads or local newspapers to promote. Divide your Marketing Campaign on the basis of locations and then divide them further in to various means of Marketing and measure the results. This technique can provide you with lot of hidden information.

Here’s an example: you are promoting a product in Place X and Y, both online and offline. After seeing the results, you conclude that online modes of marketing work better in Place X, and in Place Y, offline ads convert very well. So in the future you won’t be wasting money on Offline Promotion in Place X or on Online Promotion in Place Y.

Calculate ROI: ROI also defined as Return of Investment. It is measured by Value of Customer divided by Customer Acquisition cost Multiplied by 100. For example, if your marketing campaign costs you $5,000 and you acquire 10 customers where each customer generates $1000 in profit for you. Then Your ROI would be 10,000/5,000 * 100 = 200%. Higher the ROI, the more effective your marketing campaign is.

Eliminate Unmeasurable Actions: Each marketing campaign contains some parts which can’t be measured directly. For example, if you place an ad on a billboard, you can’t count how many people saw that billboard. To help track this, issue a discount coupon code for your customers and track the success of such ads with the help of these codes. The success of any such ad would depend on the number of times a coupon connected to that ad would be used.

Test, Tweak and Retest: Keep on analyzing results of your campaigns and then make required changes. Sometime a tiny change in headline can make drastic improvement s in your ROI. So keep on testing your campaign unless you achieve desired results.

Gagandeep Singh is an Internet Marketing Executive for Fortepromo, which helps Small Businesses promote their brand with high-quality promotional items.

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When your artist and your marketing department are at odds (guest post by Alfred DePew) November 23, 2009

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Business of Arts,Guest post,Success — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:14 am
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I’m a writer, a writer of fiction. Fiction contains dialogue. People talk to each other in stories. We all know that. What took me some time to realize is that the conversations going on in my head about my own life were holding me back—as a writer and in my business.

About 10 years ago, I began to transition out of college teaching jobs and into my own coaching and consulting business. And all too often in the last 10 years, the Writer in me has been in conflict with the Businessman.

Many artists are in a business directly related to the art they produce. My business has nothing to do with who I am as a writer. I love my business, and I love working on this new novella. And yet these two energies still sometimes work against one another.

I went from the academic world, which promised a marginally safe living for writers and artists, into what we call the Private Sector—a kind of free fall into the market economy. Many of my first coaching clients were in my tribe: writers, painters, actors …. I loved working with them. I still do. They understand coaching principles right away. They know they’re naturally creative, resourceful, and whole. They consistently make powerful changes in their lives and work in three to six months. And they can sustain these changes. They’re some of my favorite clients.

Again and again, I hear these artists describe the conflict between the part of them that created the work and the part of them that needs to “get the work out there.”

While still teaching English at the Maine College of Art, I began running seminars for visual artists about “marketing” but which were much more about tapping the energy of what most inspired them and speaking about what they did from that place. Here’s what I noticed. In my clients and then for myself. Or I should say selves. For there are a lot of aspects to me: painter, writer, executive leadership coach, organizational change facilitator, son, brother, lover, friend. It’s easiest to think of them as roles we play in the world and to ourselves. In every marketing seminar, I heard the lament: “But I’m an ARTIST! I hate marketing.” So I began to play THERE. How to enroll the artist in the marketing department? How to recognize the creativity in marketing? How to call it something else? Sort of like putting the castor oil in chocolate milk. It kept working—but not so well.

I began to realize that these were very different functions, needing, at times, a similar kind of energy. Marketers and sales folk ARE incredibly creative. I work with sales teams all the time, and they’re inventive beyond belief, willing to take all kinds of risks.  It’s the same kind of energy we need in the studio or the rehearsal hall. But the energy is expressed in two very different roles. So I had to hold the Writer in me as distinct from the Businessman (the guy who suits up for networking events and gets on planes and talks to other guys and women in suits)—people whom the Writer part of me sometimes mocks and disdains.

You get the picture.

And that’s how we often are with ourselves. The Artist won’t condescend to speak to anyone in the Marketing Department. The Marketers dismiss the Artist as a flake. And the Accountant isn’t even allowed in the room. The inside of our heads begins to sound like a terrible episode of the Office—without any jokes at all.

So I say invite them all onto an imaginary stage and see what they have to say to one another—see how they relate to each other or choose not to. Get curious about the unconscious agreements they seem to have made with one another. Actually have them engage in dialogue—with each other, and—most important—with you. You’ve the one in charge. What kind of agreements do you want to make with these aspects of yourself now? How might they begin to work as a team? What does the Artist need from the Marketer? And vice versa? What’s at stake? Why is it important for them to work together? What can they count on from each other and from you? And how do you want to hold each other accountable?

Take some time with this. Listen. Make some notes. And most important: follow through on the agreements you make with these figures. Do what you say you’re going to do. And see what happens when the Artist part of you and the Business part of you get the chance to collaborate.

Alfred DePew is a writer, painter, and a Life Coach. His weekly column in the Vancouver Observer is called  Just Between Us (Notes of a Migrant Cultural Worker).

Relationship Matters (Alfred’s blog)

And Twitters at:@alfreddepew

For information about facilitating inner collaborations, contact Alfred at adepew@earthlink.net or call (604) 568-3621.

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Why Social Media Matters (guest post by Rebecca Krause-Hardie) November 16, 2009

Rebecca posed a question to me the other day.  It was something like this…
I know social media is important, and you know it’s  important, but how do we make the case for the value of social media – to people who think its just hype?

I think there are lots of reasons.

First, a bit of perspective: we seem to be approaching social media as if it were a whole new deal. Let’s be clear. We have all been struggling for thousands of years, how to relate to and engage one another; as tribal members, as individuals, families, clans, communities, institutions and organizations.

We have struggled as teen-agers with parental relationship controls, and peer pressure to behave in acceptable ways or be excluded. As adults we are participants in many organizations, institutions, companies, as well as community, cultural, and religious groups, that each subtly define what appropriate social behavior is and what is possible.

For thousands of years, large scale conquests across continents, wars and commerce have cross fertilized our cultures and social structures. Then, POOF, along comes the internet and social media technology tools, that have transformed the informational and social landscape of time, distance, interactive immediacy … and the possibilities for building and sustaining relationships, that are  both positive and negative.

But one thing is clear, over the centuries, through all of this … sustained personal trust, transparency, authenticity, loyalty, passion, and the value of personal relationships in our social networks – is the glue that keeps it all together.

So how does this speak directly to the value of social media today?

Here we are in the thick of it. Social media is about building and sustaining virtual networks of relationships – personal relationships – that are also built on trust, authenticity, transparency and value. When we, as individuals and organizations, invest in social media networking with our friends, associates, customers and prospective customers, there is also significant value that appreciates – to all of the participants.

Many researchers have identified a very specific group of those personal, loyal and passionate supporters, and relationships, that are the core multipliers of each of our networks. Alan Brown calls them Initiators; Fredrick Reichheld calls them Net Promoters.

Here is one analysis of the value of that relationship of trust, transparency and passion, delivered and sustained over time – Frederick Reichheld wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review called The One Number You Need to Grow:

‘Net Promoters’ – People who are wildly passionate about what we do

Enterprise Rent-A-Car was interested in understanding how people’s actions correlated with what they said. If someone says that they like to go to the theater – do they actually go, and what choices do they actually make?   In the study, they first tracked people’s initial responses to the survey, and then followed their actual downstream behaviors.

Historically millions of dollars have been spent understanding customer behavior; learning how to second guess what customers need and want. Most methods were complex, hugely expensive, marginally adequate, and frequently could not actually or accurately predict behavior.

Reichheld decided on a more direct social media approach – have a Q&A conversation with the customer – and really listen.

With the help of Reichheld, Enterprise discovered that the answer to only one survey question was all that was needed. This question is now widely used across a broad spectrum of for profit and nonprofit organizations:  That one question is:

“How likely are you to recommend my company to your friends?”

In the survey, people who answer that question with a 9 or 10 (on a scale from 1 to 10), are your Net Promoters. These people are the ones that will make the buying decision because they love your stuff (you deliver trust and real value over time), and when they passionately refer their friends to you for free, their friends are likely to act on it positively, 75% of the time.  This is an astounding return rate, especially if we look at typical results from direct mail for example with 2-3% returns.

Reichheld goes on to say that to grow your business the ratio of the Net Promoters to all the other respondents should be 75% or better.   How are you doing? You should ask the question and really listen to the answer if you want to grow. If your numbers are lower than that, your customers will be able to tell you what you need to do to change it … if you ask, and then act on it!

Personal referrals are effective 75% of the time!

We just learned from Reichheld that personal referrals are effective about 75% of the time, so it begs the question.  “What are personal referrals about?” They are about personal relationships.  We talk to our friends, and we tell them what is important to us.  We share, we trust, we value….  all the things that evolve from building social capital.  When we are enthusiastic about something we share it.   Let’s say I just had a spectacular experience with the customer service at AutoZone and I tell you about it; that will probably stick with you next time you need to pick up a part.  (Or have a headlight put in….. they did it for me instantly politely and happily!  Yay!)

On the other hand, say I have three excruciating gut-wrenching and really bad experiences in a row with Spirit Airlines (yes I did!) and I tell you about it; that may affect how you think about them too.

What does this have to do with Social Media?

Social media is about building relationships with people.  When people are making their decisions in large part based on what their friends say, then it’s important to know what their friends are saying and feeling.

If they are a passionate promoter then social media tools can help you empower them to deliver your message for free.

If they are not a net promoter, then you should be concerned about what they are saying and feeling that is not helping your cause.  What can your organization do to provide more value and to address the issues that these people have.  How will you even know what they are saying and thinking?

You can use social media tools to listen and have conversations with people. To be relevant you have to be part of the conversation.

Want some facts and figures?   Check out this video on YouTube….

beckydeckRebecca Krause-Hardie is a social media strategist, arts blogger, facilitator/trainer & project manager; helping arts and NPO’s use the web and social media effectively.  Rebecca has over 20 yrs experience in new media, business, marketing, finance. She developed and has been the Executive Producer of the award winning New York Philharmonic’s Kidzone website, now in its 10th year. http://www.nyphilkids.org.  Representative clients the Boston Symphony, NYPhilharmonic, Detroit Symphony, MAPP International, Canadian Museum of Nature, NYS/Arts, Caring.com and the Paul Taylor Dance Company.
She blogs at http://arts.typepad.com/
She Twitters at @arkrausehardie

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Guest post: Matthew DiMera responds to “Is bigger, better?” September 2, 2009

Filed under: Guest post,Local Shows,Rent — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:53 am
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Yesterday, I wrote a guest post for Musicals in Vancouver entitled Some Shows are Better, Bigger. Today, Musicals in Vancouver writer, Matthew DiMera, returns the favor, and responds.

I’m a true-blue theatre-goer and there’s a special place in my heart for musicals.

I’ve seen most of the local musical theatre productions this year, and this summer Vancouver has definitely had a bumper crop.

Local theatre publicist, Art of the Business blogger, and all-around social media maven Rebecca Coleman recently opined in a guest post at Musicals In Vancouver that some local productions were missing some of the spectacle of their Broadway/touring brethren.

She’s not entirely wrong.  My first introduction to the world of musical theatre was through the touring versions that periodically graced the stages of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, the Vogue or the Ford Centre.

Those shows were brimming full of special effects and large-scale props and they definitely helped to make the shows the successes that they were.  My pre-teen eyes were amazed and won over by the sheer spectacle of it all.  The falling chandelier in Phantom of the Opera or the turntable-barricade in Les Misérables seemed to be inextricably attached to the core of those productions.

Those touring versions don’t stop by our fair city that much these days.  And that’s just fine with me.  Because, lately, they haven’t been delivering the goods in the way that they should or like they used to.

Last summer, I saw Monty Python’s Spamalot at the Centre in Vancouver.  It had everything one could possibly expect, dazzling costumes, snazzy sets and a distinct lack of onstage talent.  So not really everything one could want, but two out of three ain’t bad, right?spamalot3

I’d like to wish that this was an anomaly, but it’s become more and more of a sad pattern.  Touring shows have become lazy, and talent and charisma are often secondary (or even tertiary).  Producers know that they can just whip out a few big-budget effects and the audience will ooh and aah in unison.

And maybe, in some places that might fly.  Thankfully, it doesn’t in Vancouver.  Our local stages are a wellspring of amazing actors, singers and dancers.  We know what talent looks like, we’ve been spoiled by it and we’re not willing to settle for anything less.

When local productions skip the flashy motorcycle entrances or the extravagant turning sets, part of me misses them desperately.  And there will always be room for critiques and hopefully improvements on the local front.  I too, found Javert’s suicide scene, in the Arts Club’s Les Misérables, to be jarringly uninspired.

But, when it comes down to it, I’d rather see local attempts than nothing at all, even if they sometimes (or completely) miss the mark.  I’ll take a good Joanne as she is, anyway I can get her (the motorcycle is optional).

When I enter the theatre, I’m happy to suspend disbelief and let my imagination fill in the holes left by the absence of multi-million dollar budgets.    Keep bringing the talent and the great performances, and I’ll be yours hook, line and sinker.

What do you think? Is better, bigger? Let me know in the comments below.

Matt DiMera is a Vancouver-based journalist and writer in his 20’s.  His current writing focuses on theatre, musicals, as well as local LGBTQ issues.  His blog is Musicals In Vancouver.

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