I spend a good 25% of my day thinking about what we’re going to look like on the other side of this thing.
It’s not the healthiest activity to engage in. Things change so fast, it’s hard to know where we’ll be tomorrow, never mind next March (fingers crossed).
But I do it anyway. And I know you do too.
So I thought I’d share three predictions that I see coming as a result of the Broadway shutdown.
Oh, and big ol’ disclaimer . . . every time I make a prediction, by the time I finish making it, something changes. So I promise to have another set of these suckers in a few months. Make sure you get ’em by signing up here.)
Here are my predictions as of today:
1. More shows will come in cold.
We’ll have a lot fewer out-of-town tryouts in the coming years, especially in the short term. In fact, I’ve heard rumors about a few new shows that have already committed to coming straight in.
Why? Won’t we still need the creative R&D?
Yes! But the current, previous out-of-town model will be too expensive in the new Broadway economy (see Prediction #2).
And, the out-of-town tryout will also be too . . . well . . . out-of town! Even with a vaccine, trust in travel isn’t going to appear overnight. I expect artists will prefer to keep their circles smaller and stay-at-home, if they can.
Which brings me to . . .
2. Everything will cost less . . . because it will have to.
Costs have risen like a rocket over the past several DECADES.
It was hard to keep a lid on ’em, to be honest, since the mega-hits were earning so much mega-profit.
Vendors, unions, and everyone who makes a living on Broadway set their rates based on the best possible scenario, not average scenarios. So, as long as one out of five shows continue to recoup, it’s hard to make the argument that expenses are out of whack. (We’ve had a 20% success rate since we started keeping track!)
But that potential has changed. Tourists account for 65% of our audience, and right now many can’t come to the city without quarantining for 14 days! Unemployment is 50% higher than it was in 2008. And our audience has said they’re not sure when they are going to come back.
Does that mean we do nothing? NO. We need to produce shows. We need theaters lit. The ONLY way we get back to where we were before and beyond is to raise the curtains. When our audience hears the roar of the crowd and smells the greasepaint, they will run back.
But how do we do that if the risk is HIGHER than it was pre-Covid? You stimulate the production by decreasing the costs . . . across every budget line.
3. Broadway Investors will get better returns.
And hey, hey, Broadway Producers (this guy included), don’t think you can ask everyone else to cut expenses and not cut your potential as well
Because here are two truths . . .
First, you know what is going to be hard to do in the next year? Get people to invest in Broadway.
You know what helps stimulate investing in Broadway . . . or in anything? Giving Broadway investors better returns.
We’re asking for the people we “deal” with to change their models . . . we’re going to have to change ours.
Phew . . . this is a lot to digest. My anxiety level just spiked and I have three predictions to go!
I’m going to go drown that anxiety in a big, sugary coffee from Starbucks. I’ll tell you the other three things (including the BIG ONE) in tomorrow’s blog.
Don’t want to wait? I already wrote the other four predictions. If you want them now or are afraid you’ll miss them tomorrow, then fill in the form below.
But don’t say I didn’t warn you! Anxiety ahead!
“Give me the rest of them now, Ken!”
At the end of our conference last year, I told my team . . . “Next year, we’re going to do something totally different!”
Little did I know! 🙂
The theater is a constantly evolving art-form, so it only makes sense that our conference is evolving as well!
What has changed?
First, we’ve got a new name . . . The TheaterMakers Summit! Since our past attendees have included such a mix of Playwrights, Composers, Producers, Investors, Directors, Actors and everyone who makes theater, we wanted to honor them all.
Second, surprise, surprise . . . we’re going virtual!
Our virtual summit will be held on November 14th, 15th . . . and an extra intensive day on the 16th for a select few (More on that in a minute).
Now, look, I’ll admit it. I was a bit bummed when I realized we weren’t going to be able to have our conference in person this year. I even threw a tantrum my two-year-old would be proud of. Here’s how it went down:
We were in the middle of a Zoom last May when I said, “If we can’t have our conference in person, then forget it! I don’t want to do it!”
And I e-stomped off (which means I “booped” out of the meeting).
I e-stumbled back into the Zoom room a few minutes later (my staff was still there . . . they knew I’d be back) and said, “Ok, ok, if we’re going to do it virtually, then we’re really going to DO THIS virtually!”
Once I accepted the cards we were dealt, we spun the negative into a super-duper positive.
And now I am so excited that we’re going to be entirely online. Because we’re going to be able to unite more TheaterMakers from all over the world, with speakers from all over the world . . . without anyone having to travel. The conversations on how to make theater in the new world will be more robust than ever!
And we need those conversations. Because let’s face it. We’ve got some hurdles to overcome.
And the best way to figure out how to solve our problems is to get more and more ideas tossed out on the table by more people.
That’s why I’m going to have leaders from Broadway, Regional Theaters, Foreign Market theaters, Community Theater, High School Theaters and more. We’re going to have experts on all of the subjects facing TheaterMakers today from diversity to streaming to safety in the time of Covid . . . not to mention how to raise money in this craziness, how and where to pivot, what “The Road” is going to look like, and lots more.
And in addition to two days of great content, we’ve added an entire bonus day . . . which will feature more “group thinks” and interactive workshops, for those who want to dig into the issues even deeper.
With the attendance we’ve had in the past, and as accessible as can be since it’s virtual, it could be the biggest public conference of TheaterMakers ever.
Tickets have NOT been on sale . . . until today. (It has taken us some time to figure all this out!)
You can get them here (and you’ll also see the incredible line up of speakers we already have . . . and that’s just a few of them!)
And for those who get a ticket by this Monday at 11:59 PM Eastern, you’re going to get that interactive bonus day for free.
Oh, and expect some other surprises as well.
So yeah, the conference is gonna be different. But I think that’s perfect. Because different is exactly how we need to think right now if we’re going to succeed in getting the theater back to where it was before . . . and beyond.
Looking forward to e-seeing you there.
This will be brief.
And it will NOT be a trashy takedown of our Governor. Because he has done a fantastic job facing this monster of a crisis.
No, no. The choice words I have for him are his own
Let me explain . . .
After New York hit the apex, our Governor appealed for aid from the federal government.
And every day he expressed frustration at how Congress was talking about diving up the money.
His argument was simple . . . More money should go to the states that suffered the most.
He even got into Twitter fights about it.
And of course, he was right. The people who hurt the most should get the most help.
So, Governor (and Honorable Mayor de Blasio, as well), I hope that logic will apply to Broadway and the theater as well.
See, the theater is one of the hardest hit industries in our city, our state . . . and on the damn planet. There is no curbside pick-up for the theater. No take-out. No 50% occupancy.
It’s all or nothing. And for the foreseeable future, it’s nothing.
When you give the green light for New York to enter ‘Stage 4 on Monday’ (cross fingers), theater doors will remain shut.
And almost 100,000 actors, musicians, stagehands, and more will remain out of work.
Like New York state, these individuals suffer the most.
And, at the same time, these individual are part of an industry that has an economic impact of $14.7 billion a year.
So, using your logic, shouldn’t the industry that is suffering the most, yet providing the most, get the most?
Isn’t this the same as you telling the fed that New York should get the most, because it paid the most to federal coffers?
You know why this blog can be brief?
Because what you said makes so much sense.
And now it makes sense for us.
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Interested in hearing more about how Broadway and the theater comes back? Last chance to join the 3 Part video series that started earlier this week. But the 3rd video – about safety in the era of coronavirus – is still to come! And when you sign up, you get access to the other vids as well. Click here.