Monday, April 14, 2014
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Sunday, March 23, 2014
6. "Give away something free to build your brand. Offer a pre-show show." There is a fine line between "not getting paid for your work" and "being generous with your work." It's up to every artist to determine where that line is. We can certainly all agree on the fact that we routinely--across the performing arts spectrum--undervalue our work and there is a dangerous continuum between commercial pay and community volunteer work. All of that, though, is for another blog post.
This lesson is about generosity. We went to one of the newer breweries, HiWire Brewing, to sample their wares, and lucked into a free performance by a local blues musician, Andrew Scotchie. Great stuff, all way around (husband said the Double IPA was the best beer of the trip).
First: the music show was for free, at a non-traditional site. I've heard people say, "this doesn't work with theater because we need the audience to pay attention, otherwise they don't get the scene." To which I say, "You think the musicians don't want people to pay attention?" I feel this is a cop-out for the work of growing new audiences. One of the local theater groups did Henry III as a pub crawl a few years back. Do we think that every barfly became a huge theater fan after that experience? Nope. But were there a few who did? Probably. Musicians (which is performance art, remember?) routinely do site-specific shows, play a bit of their repertoire for free, and interact with their audience to make them feel part of the performance.
Second: If the main reason for your audience being in your building is for your 2-hr production, what else is happening to expand the evening into something remarkable? Are people showing up just before the curtain goes up because there's not reason to be there any earlier? How can we change that?
|5 of these are Asheville pubs. |
Mo's is in Hillsborough. Iron City is Pittburgh.
8. "Work with your competitors to everyone's benefit." It's rare that you go into a brewpub that only serves in-house brews. How often are theaters working with other theaters in the area? I have never heard an audience member say, "This is the only theater I attend." Collaborating in some way with other area groups/artists can be a win-win situation for everyone: new ideas, shared risk, audience growth. It doesn't have to be a big, co-produced show (although it could be!). It could be as simple as cross-marketing. Or buy one-get one half off on tickets. Or "bring your coffee mug from theater x and we'll give you a free cup of coffee at theater y." The possibilities are endless. HiWire doesn't lose audience when they offer the seasonal Greenman Porter on tap. Theaters aren't going to lose audience if there is a poster advertisement in the lobby for another theater's show.
9. "Unexpected details delight the experience."
|Shared this w/ my brother, |
who is building a tiki bar
10. "An overall experience can be enjoyable even with one underwhelming element." But the reverse is rarely true: one excellent element may not make up for an overall under-par experience. If you focus all your energy on acting, to the detriment of other elements and customer service, the entire occurrence may not engender a burning desire to return in the hearts of your customers. Be liberal with your efforts on making the whole event pleasurable, with the awareness that something may not hit the mark, and that's okay. But don't neglect anything.
Cross-pollination from other fields into the arts is one of my most favorite things to do. Take a look around everywhere you go. And let me know when you find something good!
*Who else besides me would like to watch the technical and design award portions of the major award shows (Tony, Emmy, Oscar)?
Friday, March 21, 2014
Thursday, January 30, 2014
The theater system, as a subsystem of the arts, is not broken. It can't be, otherwise there would be no theater. The arts are not broken, otherwise there would be no dance, no song, no comedy, no sculpture... Relevance is a, well, relevant term: there are millions of people for whom making and consuming art in some form is a daily necessity, a Maslow bottom-level (and I know folks who would argue that that is actually true of everyone, some just don't want to admit it or call it art). So what needs to be relevant to whom? And sustainable by who's definition? Arena Stage looks an awful lot from the outside like any performing arts center in any major city. Zelda would argue with me, as would Molly, but for the casual live-entertainment ticket-purchaser, there isn't a difference. So is a large building, multi-million dollar endowment, 10% return on capital investment, recoupment in a short time span, critics loving every line and direction, audiences signing up for season subscriptions, people beating a path to your door, 24-7 lines sustainable?
"To get to tomorrow, Theodore, you have to dial one number higher." We're not looking high enough, broad enough, long-term enough. Most of us can't: we're too mired in the daily activities of doing the business of art to really see the system for what it is. Our national organizations try to do what they can, which is commendable. Fear of change, lack of time and energy, though, still keep the varying subsystems plodding along as they have been. Changing goals, or paradigms, or the very system itself, will require someone who is comfortable trudging through the messiness.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Thursday, January 9, 2014
As I've done for a couple years now, I take an hour or so and do a review of the prior year's work and think about what I'd like next year to be like. Many thanks to Rosetta Thurman for this practice and the thought - provoking questions.
2013 was a tough year, but looking back I still made a lot of progress and started putting things in place. I did a great job developing the brand of Devra, so much that it netted me a new job. Although, one of my goals for next year is for said job to pay me a living wage (insert ongoing discussion about artists/startups/small Org mgrs here).
I loved being asked and serving on grant panels. There is a tremendous amount of art and artists in my community. It's difficult to parse who gets funding when sitting around the table. One of my goals for 2014 is to be more visible in the community as a funder. Most of these artists or smaller organizations are flying by the seat of their pants, and a caring face may go a long way. At least, that's what I hope.
One of the things I feel I didn't do as much of as I wanted was developing relationships with my female friends and colleagues. Partly because we're all so busy, sure, but we can try harder. I really want to see Ladies of Triangle Theater have an active presence. Figuring out how to do that will be a constant slow simmer project.
The thing I'd like to learn more about in 2014 is living "yes and". I've already blogged about my improv experience, and I want to build on that brief introduction.
Lastly, here's my ideal day, sponsored in part by Daniel Goleman's new book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. (This is not in order of time, btw.) Inner: exercise, reflection, reading. Outer: focused time on theater and school/learning. Other: quality family/friend time. Less driving.
May you all have the 2014 you desire!