How to guarantee the future of the arts . . . just the way you want it.

Results-Guaranteed-BroadwayAre you frustrated that there aren’t enough new plays?  New musicals?  Plays by women?  Musicals by minorities?  One woman shows about Early Hungarian Cabinetmaking starring a dog?

Want to guarantee those types of shows have a future?  And will be seen/heard/studied by future generations?

Here’s how you do it:

You invest in it.

Here’s the amazing thing about the New York theater scene:  it is where most of American Theater History is being written.  It’s the source for musicals and plays for future generations.  That means, what we’re doing now, for better or worse, is defining how future generations will view the theater.

Sounds serious, doesn’t it?

It is.  We are creating history . . . which means we have a responsibility to our art form.

And that also means, you . . . that’s right you . . . can shape that history.  Want future generations to make sure certain types of plays and musicals are seen?  Well then, invest in them, and they’ll get up . . . and they’ll live on.  Don’t?  Poof.

I know what you’re saying, “I can’t invest in shows.  I don’t have that kind of money.”

First off I say, if it was that important to you, you’d find a way.  But second, I’d of course say that “invest” doesn’t just mean “write five figure checks.”

“Invest” can mean you give something, anything, to a kickstarter.  It can also mean buy tickets.  It can also mean “invest” your time.  Dedicate hours to searching for certain types of shows and artists.  If you don’t have the money to invest then put your mouth where your money isn’t.  I’d take a word-of-mouth-advocate over an investor any day of the week.

This blog was inspired by a friend-like person I was talking to the other day who was complaining about the lack of shows about with a certain theme on Broadway.  And this person had also never helped make sure one happened.  Not with an investment.  Not with networking connections.  Not by buying tickets.  In fact, this person once begged me for comps to a show, rather than paying for it themselves.  (And yes, they had the money, if that’s what you were thinking.)

It’s common to be frustrated about what Broadway and even Off Broadway looks like these days.  But you and I are the only ones that have the power to give it a make-over.

It’s an awesome responsibility.  But I trust us to do a kick a$$ job.

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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Comments
  • Scott says:

    Hi. Great blog today. I do not live in New York. I love visiting and of course, love going to musicals and plays when I am there. But…and here comes my “but”….to see 1 show cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars by the time you get a hotel room, plane ticket, cab, meals and of course the price of a ticket. As much as I love New York and Off and On Broadway, I have to admit, it is a rare treat. That is why we who do not live in New York need to really take Ken’s advice and, INVEST. We have many theatres and people trying to do theatre across the country. We need to invest in these theaters and people as well. After all, most of the musicals and plays that end up in New York…well, do not start in New York. Let’s get our shows up and running in our cities and towns and make them the best we can. If they end up in New York, well, then you can bet they will have great sets, an amazing orchestra, and talent like no other. But, in our smaller places, we can do just the same! Can’t we? There are so many stories out here in the rest of America just waiting to be told and discovered. Let’s invest in our young writers who are itching for a kick start. Thanks Ken for all you do to encourage us to not give up!!!

  • Jack Cummings III says:

    AMEN BROTHER!!! Exquisitely put!

  • Fred Landau says:

    It becomes so easy to spread a little “rhymes-with-witchery” online at times.

    But for those who can’t afford to invest dollars right now, even if we did in past times, it feels good that a producer like you says people can help by supporting with word of mouth.

  • George says:

    Well, I have to say that we are on the complete opposite sides of this posting…

    Coming from a Financial Background, I think it’s – well – naive to imagine that people should “invest” in anything that – does not have a GOOD chance to make $$$ (like Washington DC, a LOT of people confuse “investing” with “charity” – and in the Govt’s case, confiscating people’s $$$ to spend on political patronage)

    As I have opined before, we really are on the brink here and people will be regreting that they took such little interest in their own finances… and the Idea of “throwing money away” is just so alien to my way of thinking (regardless of the “cause” – from Poverty to Art) that it does seem to be the part of the cultural phenomemnon that Life is “free” or “cheap” and – someone ELSE should pay for our… dreams.

    I could NEVER ask a person to invest in anything I was planning to do… unless I felt I had a decent prospect of getting them their $$$ back (if it’s a Tax Haven) or making them some more IF the project smells like it could be profitable!

    But that’s just a different mindset of a person who grew up paying their own way, after my mother escaped Communism (from said “Hungarian” origins) Heck, I never took a College Loan because I didn’t think what I would want to study would every pay-off the debt… and I never bought a house because I never felt I would be able to pay-off the mortgage (or could even afford to!) so count me as a minority with the mindset… but we are coming ever closer to the End Game of borrowing money that was never intended to be paid back (start with 16 Trillion which we already owe the GOvt $50K ot start!)

    For Theatre to be sustainable – we had better start thinking Ticket Sales and Franchising Ancillary Product… cause that is gonna be the ONLY game in town pretty soon.

    And

  • George says:

    And to that 2nd part…

    Okay – IF one is a hyphenated-American, a Black-American, or a Gay-American, or a Femininst-American or a Hungarian-American… sure Invest in a play that propagandizes whatever cause you like…

    But really, I think this whole segment-ta-zation of what people are, by Race, Religion, Sex and Sexual Persuation is another “illness” of this Age that future generations will smile at… much as we may smile at people in the past who were fighting wars over being Catholic or Protestant… or Arranging Marriages for their Children… or thinking that a King had a Divine Right to Rule.

    And I think a good deal of what is done today will be about as relevant to Future Generations as the Roman Cathlolic Mystery, Morality and Miracle Plays i.e. trying to teach us to be good little secular, socialist, hedonists… which is much easier to do when you expect to live on another person’s dime.

    Naw, I think of the Great Period of Theatrical works, and Opera and Novels, and I don’t see an obsession about which hole males them feel like a man or a woman… or that one’s race or religion (or lack of the later) makes for an intriguing story…

    For a Diverse Audience.

    At best, such distinctions made up ONE of the characters… in a LARGER and more UNIVERSAL story that EVERYONE could get into… become engaged with the wealth of Humanity and it’s several follies…

    And I think this is one of the reasons why plays and musicals – that play well in NYC – do NOT play well in the… rest of the country (and by way of what’s translated and staged… the world)

    I’ll even take a play I loved and admired “Take Me Out” – haven’t seen it done anywhere outside of NYC… haven’t heard of any great desire to revive it… and, when I pitched to the the LGBT Arts people (let’s just say – outside – of NYC) the response was “It’s too gay” “We got a LOT of Baseball Fans” and “How would you stage the naked Shower scene?”

    So, to tie it all together…

    Sure – IF you want to put $$$ in a project that focuses on a given political or personal agenda… more power to Ya! That’s why this is a GREAT Country.

    But don’t be surprised IF – as times grow harder and harder – the litmus test of attracting Investors (people who don’t wanna just lose their “investment” which isn’t then really an “investment”) is…

    “How Will It Play in Podunk?”

    and

    “Will It put enuff butts in seats so I can make my stake back… and a little bit more?”

    If a Producer can’t satisfactorially say “Yes” it should come as no shock that people with $$$ will more often than not – in the Near Future – will “Nope”

    g

  • Debbie Saville says:

    Great post Ken…whew… lots of heavy words in some of these messages. I have always thought I would publish a book some day titled “If this is the American Dream…Wake Up” and make it a comedy about corporate America. Well,I have published my first book titled “Tripping Over Enlightenment” because a friend asked me to co-author with her. We self-published and within 15 months the book is now on Amazon with 5-star ratings. This isn’t a “pitch” to sell the book, it is making a statement… “Dreams become reality when we keep our commitment to them”.

    And today I am creating/directing/producing a new musical in the Pittsburgh area title “Heart of Steel. I have been working on this for 2 years and expect a Summer 2014 premier. It was written again based on intent. I was attending a winery event, listening to these great musicians but the band was background music, everyone there deep in their drinking and conversation, while the band was playing originals and sounding like Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Robert Cray Band, Savoy Brown and a light went on. Right then and there, I decided I would take these musicians to the next level of performance and create a stage show around their original music. And if I succeed with them, I already have 4 other shows/band music styles in mind, enough to make a mission statement “Taking creative musicians to the theater stage” determined to create my future.

    So for me, yes money is and will be an important factor moving forward, but what is more important is the intent on why this all started, the passion to keep this moving forward, and the result… taking these great musicians out of the venues that make them background music and onto the theater stage, showcased around a storyboard.

    I hope to say in the future, this is a winning formula, because you need the intent, the dream to start. And that is what makes this country great, my freedom to take my dreams into reality.

  • Tracye says:

    So many thoughts.
    First off, if you want to support the future of the music theatre industry, it isn’t all about NYC. I agree with Scott, start by building up the theatre community where you live. Not necessarily with the intent of putting together a show that will migrate to NYC, but by building a community of people who love the Arts and theatre more specifically. We started a Children’s Musical Theatre organization in our local town of 40,000 people. Every year we involve a large group of kids (70-90) in a mainstage musical production presented for our community. The engagement of the kids and their families in the production process and shows has garnered a following of folks who love music theatre, who had not previously been exposed to the genre. And we also are building a steady audience base each year. It’s the event of July in our community each year. Those same folks, audience members, cast members, and their families, then seek out other music theatre events to attend. They catch shows in cities where they are vacationing, get groups together to travel to nearby cities and states to see shows, and even plan BIG vacations to NYC to see the big leagues. Many of these folks would have never initiated seeing a show until they got involved in the local production.
    Secondly. I have to affirm George’s comment about new shows not being written for a broad enough audience. I just got back from a trip to NYC where I saw 3 new musicals. I enjoyed them all tremendously, but two of the musicals would not have the same appeal here in midAmerica, because all the clever references to New York based sites and the Jewish cultural references would just whiz right past our audience members. Sure it’s great to broaden our geographic and cultural experiences, but the humor just doesn’t land as readily. By contrast, the one show, Big Fish, that was broader in its writing and message would definitely have appeal to our audiences. So the bottom line for me, is that the new writers need to branch out in their texts outside their narrow frame of reference.

  • Ilene Argento says:

    Where is the “like” button? Well said!

  • Tracye says:

    follow on comment: I think it was last year that I saw “Hands on a Hardbody” in NYC..twice!
    I took another mid American, a young 20something male who had NEVER seen a musical before. He LOVED the show. Sadly, as we left the theatre, I predicted that the show would not continue to run in NYC because the themes and content were atypical for the NYC show community. But this is another show that has broader appeal and would do wonderful on tour.

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