Does the definition of “emerging artist” mean young? And should it?


Whenever I hear three separate people musing about the same subject, whether that’s a show, a song, or even a stock tip, I pay attention. Because it means something’s up.

And just this week, three folks in our industry were questioning what the Talent-Hiring Decision Makers in our biz meant by the term, “Emerging Artist,” . . . and if that was code for “Young Artist.”

The first to clue me into this topic was the uber-intelligent playwright and advocate, Julia Jordan, who chatted with me on my podcast about her fascination with the industry’s fascination with young writers… Since being a writer isn’t like being a Hollywood actor, you don’t need a face and a bod to write a killer play. And ironically, the more years a writer has under his, her, or their belt, the better that writer is going to be!

The second was a member of my PRO community who was told straight to his middle-aged face by someone at a certain awards-giving institution that he wouldn’t get one because he was too old. Gasp!

The third was another “average-aged” writer who said he couldn’t get a meeting with a certain agency because they said they were looking for “new” talent. When he said that he had just started writing five years ago, so he couldn’t imagine being any newer than that . . . he didn’t get a response.

So what’s the deal? Do we have some ageism going on when looking for “new” writers and directors?

Julia did hit the nail on the head when she talked about the world’s fascination with the youth. And in other industries it makes sense . . . pro athletes need to be at their peak physical shape, so there’s no surprise that we focus on youth there.

And look, “new” will always be a great driver of interest to anything (adding “new” to marketing copy always gets more interest from a consumer, by the way, so why should an Artistic Director, Agent, or Producer be any different?). But since most writers don’t produce their greatest work until later in life (until they’ve lived a few lives and, frankly, just practiced the craft more), shouldn’t we be more focused on finding more mature writers?

And if you think the above is a generalization, check out this stat:

The average age of all Nobel Prize Literature Laureates* between 1901 and 2017 is 65 years. The youngest was Rudyard Kipling at 41.

Fascinating, right?

The counter argument is a super valid one. Should the prizes, grants, awards, and industry be focused on younger writers because they may not be in the same financial position as someone who is further along, and therefore they need the assistance more? Should we give a boost to those who need it most so that they will go on to be the Laureate that they might not be if they don’t have the help?

What do you think?  Have you experienced agism either way? Do you think younger writers make better writers or that they need the support more than someone with a few more decades under their writing belt?

Let me know in the comments below.

Broadway Grosses w/e 4/14/2019: It’s Gettin’ Hot As Hades

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending April 15, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

When Apple makes this kind of move, you should follow.


They were a little late to the party.


But Apple finally got there. (I wonder if they would have arrived on time or even early, had the prophet Steve Jobs still been with us, or had been more active in his final years.)

What party am I talking about?


The O.C., baby . . . Original Content.


At their latest Apple product announcement on March 25th, there was no slick new iPhone to talk about.  And iPads are starting to feel a little iPodish to me.


Instead, the fruit-monikered “computer company” who made it easy for us to <em>consume</em> content through iTunes and on AppleTV made it clear that their next push would be about creating content for those same platforms.  (The invitations to the event were even headlined with, “It’s showtime!”)


To emphasize how serious they are . . . get this . . . they made it public that they are <a href=””>investing $1 billion</a> into making new “tv” programs with some of Hollywood’s top names (Spielberg, JJ Abrams) and some newcomers as well.


That’s a doozy of an investment, don’t you think?


And when a company like Apple makes that kind of investment, it means there’s a heck of an opportunity on the horizon, even though they’re not the first to market.


Obviously, this paradigm shift for Apple is a direct challenge to Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and all the other platforms that have been making stuff like crazy over the past few years.  (Netflix alone is putting <a href=””>$13 billion</a> into the original content race.)


Not to mention HBO, which was the first non-major network to invest heavily in new programming and see massive results. (While they started doing this decades ago, HBO hit their stride with Sopranos and Sex and the City in the early 2000s.)


What’s the takeaway here?


Content isn’t just King. Kings can be tried for treason and beheaded in the town square.  (That’s an HBO Original Content <em>Game of Thrones </em>reference, btw).


Content is the whole effin’ Kingdom.


It’s the land.  It’s the most powerful thing there is in entertainment.


So listen up . . . if you’re not investing in original content in whatever business you’re in (but yeah, I’m talking about the theater primarily, duh), and if you’re not creating new content yourself, then you’re missing out on the arts-oil wells of the future.


And the cool thing is . . . when it works, creating original content fuels the soul and the bank account.


So take a cue from Apple . . . create something original. It might take a little bit longer to get to market, and you might have to sweat a little bit more along the way, but as Thorton Wilder said, “Every excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor edge of danger . . . and must be fought for.”


Go make something today.



Broadway Grosses w/e 4/7/2019: The Race is On.

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending April 8, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

Broadway Grosses w/e 3/31/2019: They Posted April 1st, But These Figures Aren’t Foolin’

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending April 1, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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