The Economic Impact of Touring Broadway 2016-17

“Broadway is the longest street in America.”

If you’ve never heard that quote before, attributed to our living legend Paul Libin, who recently retired as an EVP and resident “guru” at Jujamcyn Theaters (and who also runs Circle in the Square), you’re about to see why he uttered it in the first place.

Simply put . . . it’s because Broadway brings a lot of bucks to the entire nation.

Like, billions.

The Broadway League just released its annual economic impact report for touring Broadway, and the results are staggering.  And this is for the 2016-17 season, just as Hamilton was starting to pump up subscriptions at every theater in the land.

As you’ll see, Producers spend a lot of dollars launching these moving (literally and figuratively) musicals and plays . . . and audiences spend a lot of money on them and around them as well (from dinner to parking to hotels, oh my!).

That means . . . jobs.  Lots and lots of jobs.

And that means: take heed local and federal governments.  This is an industry that deserves support and respect.  Because a dent in it would mean a dent in economies all over this long, long street.  (Translation: more tax incentives, please, especially for our steadfast Broadway investors who make all this possible.)

Take a look at this “Executive Summary” of the report below . . . and if you want to get the complete report, as well as the others that the League produces, you can get them here.

Touring Broadway Contributes $3.8 Billion Across the U.S.

  • In the 2016-2017 season, 41 Touring Broadway shows traveled to 191 cities across the country.
  • Producers and presenters spent $1 billion to launch and run these programs.
  • Of this amount, $728.8 million was spent in the theatres’ communities and $279.8 million in the New York City area. The remaining $29.6 million was spent in other areas (i.e. vendors who were situated elsewhere or foreign royalty holders) that is beyond the scope of the impact analysis.
  • Moreover, theatregoers who came to an area specifically to attend shows spent another $746.1 million on ancillary activities such as dining and transportation.
  • Thus the total direct spending due to Touring Broadway amounted to $1.78 billion.
  • This money then generated another $2.0 billion in secondary rounds of spending, so that the full economic contribution of Touring Broadway totaled $3.8 billion to these 191 cities.
  • Eighty-three percent of this money ($3.2 billion) supported the communities that presented Broadway tours. Another $610.2 million impacted the New York City area.
  • On average, Broadway tours contributed an economic impact of 3.28 times the gross ticket sales to the economy of the metropolitan areas in which they played.

Want to hear more about the business of Broadway and how it’s changing under our feet?  Come hear Broadway A-listers chat about the state of Broadway and how you can make it to a stage yourself.  Click here.

Forget 15 Minutes a Day to Flatter Abs. Use Those 15 Minutes to Do THIS Instead.

A long time ago, in a galaxy very close to Times Square . . . I was in deep you-know-what.

See, I had made a bad business assumption.

Actually, that’s redundant. Any assumption is a bad one.  Because when you assume, you make an a$$ out of yourself . . . and only yourself!  And now what the @#$% are you going to do?

So, I had made this business assumption. And I found myself in a very, very deep hole.  With very limited time to get out of it.

Now look, I had been in holes before.  Life, and even more so the pursuit of success in the arts, is like a street in New York City.  It’s filled with potholes, and you’re going to hit one every once in a while.

But this time?  I hit a doozy.  I was in deep.  Deeper than the one I had been in years before that had me in tears on my therapist’s couch, wondering how I was going to get out of it.

So yeah, things were bad.

And I needed a plan.  Because there was no choice.  I had to dig myself out.  No matter what.

There were no tears this time.  I woke up at 4:45 AM (partly on purpose and partly because I couldn’t sleep) and went straight to my office to begin putting a process in place to get me over, under, or straight damn through the obstacle I was facing.

That morning, I Googled everything I could about getting back on track.  I learned about eating better and morning routines and meditation and positive thinking and . . . journaling.

I had always laughed at journaling before.  “Isn’t it like keeping a diary?”  “Why reflect or describe what’s happening when I can just do something with that time instead!”

But since so many successful people I looked up to swore by this 15-minute a day exercise and since I was so @#$%ed I was ready to try anything to get myself in the right mindset . . . I bought one.  (Actually, I bought three – but more on that later.)

And the next day, I took that journal, which I had one-day shipped from Amazon Prime, and held it.  And instantly I felt like I had control over what was going to happen next in my life, instead of “the hole” taking control of me.

Day after day, I started going through the exercises in that journal, from goal-setting, to mind-setting, to gratitude-feeling, and so on.

Two weeks later, my problem was gone . . . four weeks earlier than the deadline.

Boom.

And journaling has been a part of my life every single day since.  And without a doubt, it has helped me focus, take action, stay calm (when I’ve faced more potholes), and achieve the ambitious goals that I had set for myself.

It’s one of the simplest secrets to success I’ve ever seen.  Which is why I think you should start one today.

You can use anything to journal.  A blank composition book.  A blog.  A word doc.

Or one of the many journals available on the market.

And as of today, you can also get one specifically for Artists, Art-trepreneurs, and other people like you.  Check them out here.

See, in order to make my journaling more efficient, I tried over seventeen (!) different types from seventeen different companies.  And while all of them had elements I liked (special shout-out to Michael Hyatt, SaltWrap, Rachel Hollis, and all the others who helped inspire me with their versions), none of them had the perfect combination of what I believe true Art-repreneurs need.

So we made our own!  🙂  Click here to see ’em.

The journal consists of a daily checklist of the things I believe every person should start their day with in order to get the most out of the next 24 hours and to get closer to their goals.

We have three versions, with three unique covers, inspired by some of our favorite motivational lyrics.  🙂  I think you’ll like ’em.  Click here to see if you can guess which lyrics we chose!

With the cost of publishing these hardcovers, never mind what Jeff Bezos takes on Amazon, these are really a wash for us.  But we made them because we believe it can help you get your shows, your projects, your anything off the ground, which as you know, is part of our #5000By2025 mission.

So grab one and give it a shot.

Because I think you’ll find those 15 minutes a day much more fun and MUCH more rewarding than a bunch of crunches.


Get our Action Journal for Artists here.

It will work.

Happy journaling!

5 Things I Learned About The London Theater Scene At My Social.

Now that was fun.

So, I’ll admit.  I’ve done about a dozen of my “socials” around the world over the past 10 years and five minutes before the start of each and every one, I panic.  And I think two things:

  1.  “I know we have a ton of people on the RSVP list, but what if no one comes?”
  2. “What if everyone DOES come and no one has any fun?”

You’d think I’d have learned by now this simple truth . . . when you put a bunch of passionate theater people in a room, you can’t NOT have fun.

That’s why our London social this past Tuesday was a blast, as you can see in these photos.  Old friends were reunited.  New friends were made.

I even gave three people March 15th deadlines for their projects and told them they had to email me to let me know they’ve accomplished their goals by then or I’d publicly shame them right here on this blog.  (You know who you are.  I haven’t forgotten.  Tick tock, mates.)

And most importantly, I know several folks that scheduled follow-up coffee dates to talk about how they can work together.

That’s the coolest.  In fact, someone asked me what my goal was for throwing the social . . . and I said, “That a lot of people get together for coffee afterward.”

But I lied.

That wasn’t my only goal.  The truth is, one of the reasons that I bribed all these smart, talented, and driven Brits with free drinks is because I wanted to learn about the emerging London theater scene!

And learn I did.  So here, in no particular order, are five things I learned about the scene . . .

1. THEY’VE GOT MORE $ FOR SHOWS.

More than one emerging producer came up to me and said they loved working in London because it was easy to get $10-$15k grants to do small shows.  It just sounded so simple.  And it sounded like that kind of cash could produce our equivalent of an Equity Showcase here in the states.  We’ve all heard about how the big behemoth theater companies like The National get great governmental support, but it sounds like it trickles down to all levels.  It’s like the government knows that supporting emerging producers is smart because Producers who produce hire hundreds and hundreds of people (if not more) over the course of their career.  Investing in them actually helps stimulate the economy and the arts.

2. THEY’VE GOT LOTS OF AMERICANS THERE.

I was shocked to hear as many American accents amidst all the small talk.  It seems that several of them (most who crossed the pond for undergrad and graduate degrees) knew something we don’t (See #1).  They’re probably going to curse my name for revealing the big secret (sorry, guys), but they all seemed to LOVE living and working in London town.  One of my favorite answers to my query of why they enjoyed being there so much was, “The theatrical history in this town.  It’d just such a part of the culture.”

3. THEIR CHALLENGES ARE THE SAME AS OURS.

While sure, there may be more grants, but raising money was a big concern.  They were talking about finding agents, finding directors, getting Producers to read their scripts . . . or for the Producers in the room, finding writers with great scripts!  (We hooked a few people up for sure.)  So for all of your Theater Makers, wherever you are, I’ve never felt more confident in saying this . . . You are not alone.  And I promise that we’ll keep doing these kinds of things in order to unite this tribe of Dream Makers.

4. THEY LOVE BROADWAY.

Even though the UK is the home of Shakespeare and some of their theaters were built before we even had a country, they’ve got tremendous respect for what we do here in the US and on Broadway. They follow it closely, which was impressive considering how far away we are and that several of them had never been.  But one of ’em knew more of what was going on than I did. (Special thanks to the internet for making it feel like you can cross an ocean with a click of a keyboard.)

5. THEY COME FROM AWAY.

I met Theater Makers from Korea, Paris, Germany, Ireland, and all over the continent.  I always forget how close these other countries and cultures are when I’m in the heart of London. The city feels like Grand Central Station but for theater, which makes for a richer and more diverse output of stories and points of view.  The pitches I heard had more variety than any other place I’ve been.

Oh, and there’s one more thing I learned . . . theater people . . . no matter where you go . . . are just plain terrific people.  And it makes sense, doesn’t it?  To work in the theater, you must be collaborative.  Your job (which you love or you wouldn’t do it) depends on your ability to talk to other people, work with other people, challenge other people, and take a big ol’ bow with other people.  So of course when you put theater people in a room good things happen.

And I’m so glad that all of these terrific London people came to the social.  And I hope many coffees are had.

We’ll be doing more of these socials in 2019.  Because I like them.  And because I learn from them.  And I hope you do too.

And let me know if you’ve got a lot of theater folks in your town that could use a reason to get together.  Maybe I’ll come to socialize with you!  Just email me here.

 

GUEST BLOG by Jennifer Tepper: Opening Next Season: A New Broadway Theater?! 

Welcome to a new feature here on TheProducersPerspective . . . where I put a spotlight on someone else’s perspective.

Every Wednesday, you’ll hear from someone in or out of our biz who has a unique perspective on what we do (or what we SHOULD do).

Why, after 10 years, have I started allowing guest bloggers?  Because the theater is a collaborative art form, and we can’t make our art, nor sustain our art with just one viewpoint.

If we want to make more theater, then we need to collaborate more, so this blog will now be just that . . . a collaboration of perspectives of some of the coolest thinkers I know . . . some of whom I agree with, and even more interestingly, some of whom I don’t agree with.

This is all part of our #5000By2025 mission.

So stay tuned to this blog station.

And first up, a former employee of mine, and now published Author, 54 Below Producer, and Esteemed Broadway Historian, Jennifer Tepper.

I describe JT this way . . . if you were on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” and there was a Broadway Musicals category, she would be your phone-a-friend.

Take it away, Jennifer!  And make sure you subscribe to this blog to see who our guest poster will be next week.

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A new Broadway theater. Sounds crazy, no?  But in our little village of New York City…

The Broadway theater crunch is at an all-time high. Thanks to the health of the industry, Broadway is booming – which means that there are A) more new shows than ever that are ready to come in and B) less existing shows than ever that are closing quickly in order to give them an open theater to come to.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s there were many years where at least half of the Broadway theaters sat completely empty. EMPTY! It’s hard to imagine now. Because of this, a good number were destroyed or re-purposed – including the five that fell in the Great Theatre Massacre of 1982.

But now, producers would die to have those theaters back in play. Imagine the shows that would be thrilled now to play the 955-seat Morosco on 45th Street? Or the Edison on 47th, which could be flexibly made into a thrust house or theater-in-the-round for a new production?

I gave a TEDxBroadway talk about this a few years ago. How do real estate and specifically the theaters we destroy affect the kind of shows that are produced in New York City?

Since I gave this talk, the theater crunch has gotten even… crunchier. There are more producers than ever dying to expand the number of Broadway theaters so that they have spaces for their shows to open. I have heard that theater owners are hungry for more spaces as well.

In December 2015, it was announced that the Hudson Theatre would be re-opened as a Broadway house for the first time in almost 50 years. It had been operating as a hotel event space. Thanks to the New York Landmarks Commission, the Hudson could not be destroyed – after the 1982 theatre massacre, a campaign was waged to landmark every other Broadway theater. If we hadn’t knocked down the Morosco, Hayes, Bijou, Astor, and Gaiety, then we would not still have theaters like the Hudson, which were landmarked only because others were destroyed… and can now re-open during this popular chapter for Broadway.

By February 2017, Sunday in the Park with George was playing at the Hudson. That’s a fast turn around! And the theater has been in-demand ever since – just as all 41 of Broadway’s houses are today.

>With all of the buzz and hope in the air about more Broadway theaters, could there be others on the way…?

The Times Square Church (once the Mark Hellinger)

This glorious theater was once home to shows including My Fair Lady and Jesus Christ Superstar. In 1989, it was sold to the Times Square Church, who still occupy the venue to this day. They have done a magnificent job keeping the space as gorgeous as ever. If you walk in for a church service, you can see that it is in great shape for a large Broadway musical to open in, in the near future.

I recently walked through the Hellinger (sorry, Times Square Church) with many of the original cast members of Legs Diamond, the last show in the theater. The church kindly brought us on a nostalgic tour when we were presenting a reunion concert of the musical at Feinstein’s/54 Below, where I’m the Creative and Programming Director.

If the church could find a new space to relocate to, might they be open to a Broadway owner taking back the Hellinger? #TakeBackTheHellinger

The Edison Ballroom (once the Edison)

The Hotel Edison is truly at the heart of Times Square. Cutting through from 46th Street to 47th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue, the structure holds multiple dining and entertainment spaces… including the Edison Ballroom. For one year in the 1950s, and then 20 years beginning in 1970, this space was a Broadway house. The Edison was one of the most alternative venues ever to be called a Broadway theater. It spent time as a theater in the round… it housed Broadway’s most infamous ‘nudie show’ (Oh! Calcutta!)… it was independently run in the midst of a theatre district monopolized by the three major theater owners. More so than any other Broadway theater before or since, the Edison Theatre marched to the beat of its own drum. In this era of demand for alternative theatre spaces, could it do so once again?

The Ed Sullivan (once Hammerstein‘s)

For years, the Ed Sullivan Theatre on Broadway at 53rd Street was home to The Late Show With David Letterman, and now it houses the television program with Stephen Colbert as host.

But before that, in the 1920s and 1930s, it was a Broadway house built by Arthur Hammerstein and named Hammerstein’s Theatre for Oscar Hammerstein I. (Arthur’s son and Oscar’s grandson was Oscar II, writer of shows from Oklahoma! to Carousel to The Sound of Music.) It is a beautiful former Broadway house, kept in fantastic shape.

Could Hammerstein’s someday open its doors to Broadway once again?

The Liberty 

The Liberty Theatre on 42nd Street was a Broadway house from 1904 to 1933. During the Depression, many Broadway theaters were abandoned and became movie houses. The Liberty was one of these. During the 1990s the city of New York purchased the Liberty in efforts to clean up Times Square, and it is now partially a barbecue restaurant, a diner, an event space, and the exterior for Ripley’s Odditorium. Odd, indeed!

That said, there’s enough left of the Liberty that it could be transformed back into a legit theater someday. In 2015, the off-Broadway show Speakeasy Dollhouse: Ziegfeld’s Midnight Frolic played in the space, proving just that. Off-Broadway shows like this one will likely prove a key turning point in demonstrating these theaters viable are for future Broadway re-population. Do I sound like an evil Broadway scientist yet?

The Times Square Theatre

Of all of the theaters on this list, the Times Square is perhaps the most *lost* of all. It sits abandoned on 42nd Street, just next to the Lyric Theatre, future home of Harry Potter. While its exterior is on display in a significant way to passerby, few have been inside the Times Square in years.

The Times Square opened as a Broadway house in 1920 and closed in 1933. During those years it housed shows like the original productions of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Front Page, Strike Up The Band, and Private Lives.

Many have tried to re-open the Times Square over the years. It was even announced as the home for Broadway 4D a few years ago. Nothing has come to pass yet, for a variety of reasons. This includes some spatial problems that were created for the Times Square when the Lyric, built in the 1990s by combining two other theaters, took some of its real estate for their new structure.

But don’t count this space out just yet. Crazier things have happened on Broadway.

The Diamond Horseshoe (once the Century)

The Diamond Horseshoe inside the Paramount Hotel on 46th has recently been home to shows like Queen of the Night. But most don’t know that in the 1970s and 1980s this space was counted as a Broadway house.

Many shows with their sights on Broadway in the 2010s have innovative visions on how they’d like to interact with their audiences. Right now, only Circle in the Square allows for an immersive theatre experience on Broadway. If the powers that be worked to make spaces like the Century viable Broadway houses again, what kinds of groundbreaking shows might we see on the Great White Way?
 

Stage 42 (once the Little Shubert)/ The New Victory (once the Theatre Republic)

Stage 42, the off-Broadway house formerly known as the Little Shubert, has never been a Broadway theater, but I do dream about it being one someday. Add one seat to Stage 42’s 499-seat capacity and you have a theater eligible for Broadway status, where smaller commercial shows could find a home.

And The New Victory, a beautiful theater on 42nd Street that houses family entertainment, originally opened as a Broadway house in 1900 and was for awhile run by David Belasco. It too could potentially function as a great space for smaller commercial Broadway shows.

… On the other hand, I’m also thrilled for what these two theaters are now: great, big off-Broadway houses. In addition to wanting more Broadway houses, I also long for more viable off-Broadway theaters on the larger end… which are finally coming back in demand… just when we’ve destroyed most of them. Oh, show business!

So say a little prayer for the Hellinger, Edison, Hammerstein’s, Liberty, Times Square, Century, Little Shubert, and Theatre Republic. Just like the Hudson, they could come back to Broadway life someday. Anything is possible in the theatre!

… And if a future era finds our theaters endangered again, get ready to protest outside the American Airlines (which isn’t landmarked!) with me. How we treat the theaters themselves is so important, and has a huge impact on the generations and shows yet to come.

P.S. In my book series The Untold Stories of Broadway, many tales about lost Broadway theaters are told. Each book features seven current Broadway theaters and one lost theater (the Hellinger in book one, Criterion Center Stage Right in book two, and Edison in book three). I’ve interviewed hundreds of theatre professionals about their work in different Broadway houses. Check out the books to read great Broadway stories from all of these folks as well as my own discoveries about each theater that I’ve made along the way!

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Do you have a unique perspective that you’d like to share with readers of TheProducersPerspective?  Email me to apply for one of our guest blogger positions.

5 Takeaways from a Non Broadway Marketing Conference.

Unless you follow me on Facebook, you wouldn’t have even known that I was gone.

But two weeks ago I was in San Diego, with 6,000 (!) other marketers at one of the biggest internet marketing conferences in the country world.

And I’d bet two tickets to Hamilton that I was the only guy there who marketed the theater.  Which is exactly why I went.  And oh the things I learned!

But don’t worry, like Prometheus stealing fire from Olympus, I took all sorts of tips and tricks from the Digital Marketing Gods and brought them back for you (just like I did on this post).

You ready for a few marketing truth bombs?

Here are 5 Takeaways for you:

1. Conversation is the new lead.

Many of the speakers talked about how important it was to start a conversation with your potential customer before asking them to make a purchase. Chat Bots, Facebook Messenger, and the good old telephone were just a few of the strategies we discussed to start conversations and thus increase conversions. But no matter what tool you use, it’s clear that today’s consumer wants a “Hello, how are you,” before they get a, “Do you want to buy this?” And if your marketing doesn’t offer them a chance to talk to you, then you’re losing out.  (This is one of the reasons we have “Live Chat” on our Once On This Island site.  Go check it out!)

2. Not everyone with a credit card is your potential customer.

We all like to think that our “products” (e.g. shows, in our case) are for everyone.  But they’re not.  And we’ll often take money from anyone that wants to pay our ticket price. But we shouldn’t. Getting the WRONG people in to see your show will only generate bad word of mouth.  Target the people that are predisposed to like your show, and forget the rest. Your peer reviews (which, bonus tip, are more important to millennials than any other generation) will be better, and so will your bottom line.

3. Marketers need to hang out with more real people.

When I’m at a Broadway ad meeting, and a debate breaks out about something as simple as the size of a logo on a Post-It pad, I often wonder, “When was the last time anyone at this table actually purchased a theater ticket?” At the conference, we were challenged to not only put ourselves in the minds of our consumers but to find a way to spend more time with them.  Why?  Because let’s face it, I have no idea what it’s like to be a family of four from New Jersey looking to see a show in January.  So I should find out . . . by starting one of those aforementioned conversations!

(TIP:  One of the best ways to find out what challenges your audiences face is to . . . ready for it . . . ask them!  An email or social media post that says, “Hey, what keeps you up at night?” or “What would make you go to the theater more?” It might be enough!

4. Perfect is the enemy of speed.

One of the greatest advantages digital products have over traditional products is that they can be launched, and then, if there is a problem, the “producer” can fix it on the fly.  The conference speakers all preferred us, entrepreneurs, to “ship,” when the product is ready, not when it’s perfect. Writers should do this too.  Get your work out there.  Fix it as you go.  If you’re a playwright, and you haven’t had a play produced, get help and get it on a stage somehow.  And don’t try to be perfect, because it’ll be another twenty years before you’re ready to do something with your script.  And PS, it still won’t be perfect!

5. Customers only post things on Social Media when it elevates their status.

Take a moment, and think about this one . . . true right?  No one is taking photos of themselves, sitting in a middle seat in the back row of a Spirit Airlines flight.  But get an upgrade? Flash!  Instagrammed! You only post photos and videos of yourself that you believe will make you look good to your friends, family, and followers. So, if we want more Instagrams and Tweets and Facebook Videos, then we need to give our customers social media photo ops that do just that.

What photo ops can you give your fans to make them look like superstars?

 

Those were just five of the takeaways my team and I ran away with.  Truth is, we had about twenty pages of ’em.  If you want to see the rest, well just watch the marketing of one of my shows.  So much of what I learn is embedded in my projects.  Truth is, I don’t come up with a lot of my initiatives on my own.  I steal them. 🙂

But that’s ok . . . and it brings me to the biggest takeaway that I learned at one of the very first conferences I ever attended . . . and it’s this:

Every business, no matter what the industry, is the same.  “But my business is different,” is a BS excuse from someone who isn’t doing their marketing work.

Applying the classic principles of sales and marketing works for all businesses, including Broadway.

 

 

 

 

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