Advice from an Expert: Vol. XIII. What is The Broadway League?

I mentioned The Broadway League in a post recently, and a new reader dropped me a note asking just what the heck “The League” was.

I was in the middle of composing my own response, when I realized that I had a few questions about the League and its history myself.  So I decided to call in an Expert for all the answers!

So, here she is, Ms. Charlotte St. Martin, the Executive Director of The Broadway League (and #19 on BroadwaySpace.com’s list of Broadway’s Most Powerful People) with a guest blog on The League.

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In 1930 the brand new League of NY Theatres stated in a document called “The Primer of the League of NY Theatres”  that “a new stimulus is being given to the Theatre in general as a result of the formation of the League.  While that was 79 years ago, it would be safe to say that the League still does that.  And the purpose of the League at that time, “that the public may be assured of better theatrical conditions, greater convenience in purchasing theatre tickets and a vigorous policy by the Members of the League to place the American theatre in that high position which it deserves to hold in the community” would still hold true today and would be a great mission statement today, as well as then.

Other stated purposes at that time are still quite relevant today.

– To eliminate theatre ticket speculation and to protect the public from the exorbitant charges made by ticket brokers for desirable locations.
– To make theatre going easy for the public.
– To make it possible for the public to buy tickets for good seats at theatre box offices.

Even though our name was different then, it is not without merit to mention that one of the key goals of The Broadway League today is not so dissimilar. We have a committee that has been working on an initiative to educate consumers on a national level about “How to buy a ticket from the official sources of Broadway” to insure that our theatregoers are getting what they pay for!

In addition to New York producers and theatre owners,  members of The Broadway League also include the presenters of Broadway in over 150 cities and 250 venues across the country. The organization is a member-driven trade association representing the commercial theatre industry in those areas most important to them including:

1.  Labor

We negotiate with the 14 unions representing Broadway in NYC.

2.  Marketing and Branding 

Through audience development programs such as Broadway on Broadway, Kids’ Night on Broadway and Back 2 Broadway, one of our key goals is to introduce new audiences to theatre through education and opportunities to experience live theatre.  In addition, another key goal is to differentiate a Broadway show from other forms of live entertainment, and the branding campaign launched last year entitled “Now that’s Broadway” is the face of that initiative.

3.  Government Relations

We communicate the needs of commercial theatre with our local, state and national elected officials.  Whether we are working on improving the traffic pattern for NYC, or fighting the attack on our wireless devices with the FCC, we are there to represent the needs of our members. A key new initiative is to work with our lobbyists in Washington D.C. to create tax incentives for the producers of commercial theatre, which ultimately creates a significant number of jobs across the country.

4.  Conferences and Forums

We host meetings, conferences, forums, and other types of events which are opportunities for our members to learn, network and solve industry challenges.

5.  Research

We maintain historical data on individual playhouses and productions – the Internet Broadway Database (www.IBDB.com). The League is “the” source of information about commercial theatre that is important to our members. We collect weekly box office grosses for Broadway and Touring Broadway, and provide research reports on the demographics of the Broadway and Touring Broadway audiences as well as Broadway’s economic impact.

6.  Tony Awards

As co-presenter of the annual Tony Awards which are aired on CBS-TV, the awards recognize excellence and provide national exposure for Broadway.

Over the years we have been quite active in a variety of issues. We convinced the N.Y. State Legislature to drop proposed draconian censorship laws, spearheaded a boycott of segregated playhouses, fought McCarthyism and the Hollywood blacklist by refusing to shutter productions because of artists’ political views,  collaborated with the theatrical unions and the City of New York to create a pension plan for Broadway employees, plus so much more.

The more things change, the more they remain the same? No!  Perhaps our mission in fulfilling the needs of our members and theatregoers has remained the same.  But as those needs became more complex and diverse, so has the evolution of our organization into a modern way of thinking and one that yields positive results to better our industry.

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For more information on The League, including how to become a member, visit www.BroadwayLeague.com 

 

 

Comments
  • Marie says:

    Funny that she (and I say “she” meaning her assistant, who I’m sure wrote this) didn’t mention The Broadway Concierge & Ticket Center, the League’s “one stop shop for Broadway tickets”. How much money did the League spend to relaunch that place?
    Although, the fact that she didn’t mention it kind of just reaffirms to me how the League doesn’t do much of anything to garnish NEW audience members, much less to affirm that they are the official representatives of the Broadway industry that they claim to be.
    Sadly, it’s not just the League. When it comes to stepping out of our past and into our future, there is just a sense of complacency throughout our industry right now. Nobody wants to take the necessary risks to truly accomplish anything. I’ve know numerous League members that see the League as more of a chore than something that can help forge the industry into new, exciting & even more profitable territory.
    All the Broadway League does is continually pat themselves on the back for a job NOT done.
    PS. Thanks for your always insightful posts Ken! Keep it up!

  • Ed says:

    Thanks for this, Ken. I knew about most of the League’s activities but there were still some revelations here (at least to me).
    Also, just in case you hadn’t yet seen it, this article from Variety offers some encouragement to anyone who produces what initially may have appeared to be a Broadway “flop”:
    http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118011669.html?categoryid=15&cs=1&ref=vertlegit&ref=ssp

  • Dana says:

    While I applaud The Broadway League for all of the work they are doing, I am very curious to know what they are doing in terms of combating the ever-escalating ticket prices. I was recently rather horrified to see that the top ticket price for A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC is $137. Is the League -or anyone- doing anything to seriously address this issue? Has there been any in-depth research done on the rising cost of ticket prices? Ken, I believe you pointed out in an earlier posting that Broadway grosses went up over the last year but ticket sales went down; obviously not a good combination. While discounts may be available, I’m afraid the ticket prices are just scaring patrons away and excluding young audience members (I know I think twice before paying $50 to sit in the last row of the mezzanine).

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