A politician teaches you how NOT to fundraise for your project

One of a Broadway Producer’s primary responsibilities is to raise money.  It’s what makes us different from Movie Producers, Record Producers, and TV Producers. 

I used to complain about it. But as a mentor of mine said, “Ken, that’s the game. If you don’t like it, go produce movies instead of theater.”

That shut me up big time. Because it reminded me that we have the choice to do whatever we want in this life. I choose the theater, with all its idiosyncrasies. And instead of complaining about what bugs me, I take the serenity prayer to heart. I accept the things I cannot change, and work with a positive attitude to change the things I can.

One profession who has to raise more money than a Broadway Producer is a Politician.

So, I watch how they do it like a hawk watching a hawk.

I learned a couple of things about how they do it pretty quickly:

  • They follow up and then follow up some more.
  • They come at you through email, text, phone calls, direct mail and would send a carrier pigeon if they could.
  • They’d love a big check, sure, they’ll take lots of littles ones too.
  • They’re good at it. Because their jobs depend on it.

 

Which is why I was so shocked when a certain political candidate I follow was effin’ up so badly.

I’m not going to name names, because, well, it makes no difference who it is. And I eff up all the time, and I wouldn’t want someone else pointing it out either. (Let he without a marketing sin, cast the first e-stone.)

So what was this politician (or his team, more precisely) doing to decrease his/her chance of raising money?

This politician sent out emails that described their fundraising efforts as follows:

“pacing behind our goal.”

“not great.”

“we expect to get pummelled . . . “

 

There are more, but you get their drift. And I’m sure you get why this is the wrong approach when raising money.

No one ever wants to throw money at a sinking ship. One of the most powerful marketing strategies is social proof – demonstrating that whatever it is you’re selling is popular with tons of people. Because people want to do what other people are doing. You see a long line at a restaurant or a night club? You want to know what’s going on. You see a lot of people with the same sneakers or handbag? It makes you curious.

So telling everyone that people AREN’T giving you money when you’re asking them over and over? That can drive people the other way!

Now, the exception to this rule would be if this politician was going to his or her inner circle with open and authentic asks for real help. But communicating this way with potential backers who you don’t know that well, is a surefire way to NOT raise money.

(You can bet that I didn’t click “donate now” when I read these emails.)

Remember, when approaching investors, always be honest with where you are with your fundraising. But down-in-the-dumps, negative-marketing, is rarely a solution to raising money.  Or anything, for that matter.

 

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Want more tips on raising money?  Get my book, How To Raise Money For The Arts or for Anything.

May 7, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

From more Broadway reopening news from Governor Cuomo to National Tours and revivals making their way back to the stage (and screen) to concerns about the country going back to “normal”. . . here’s what TheaterMakers were talking about this week . . .

 

1 – Andrew Cuomo Says Broadway Shows Will Open at Full Capacity September 14

The Governor of New York announced that Broadway will start selling tickets as soon as May 6th, with a reopening date of September 14th, 2021. Few shows have announced exact opening dates. Diana says it will resume December 1 and the revival of The Music Man expects to begin previews December 20.

Read more: playbill.com 

 

2 – Wicked tour announces return date as first touring production to resume

The musical will have it’s post-pandemic premiere at the Music Hall at Fair Park in Dallas from early August to September. Tickets for the Dallas showing of Wicked will go on sale May 21st.

Read more: broadwaynews.com

 

3- Applications Now Open For The Prince Fellowship

Applications for the newly renamed Fellowship (in honor of the late great Hal Prince) are open now through June 15. Prospective applicants are asked to join an informational Webinar at 6PM EST on Thursday, May 13.

Read more: broadwayworld.com 

 

4 – The Secret Garden Revival Workshop to Stream in May

Warren Carlyle will direct the musical workshop.The streaming proceeds from ticket sales will go toward the Dramatists Guild Foundation and the Actors Fund. Some cast members for this workshop will include Clifton Duncan as Archibald, Drew Gehling as Neville Craven, Sierra Boggess as Lily, and Amber Iman as Martha.

Read more: theatermania.com

 

5- As we return to normal, a new plague: stage fright in the theater of daily life

As we begin to leave our homes and return to normal, waves of fear arise. There are still concerns about variants and the number of people who still aren’t fully protected. Despite progress made with vaccinations around the country, concerns are growing. 

Read more: latimes.com 

 

Fun on a Friday:

As Broadway’s reopening nears, Six the Musical announced their opening night will happen (again) on September 17th. 

 

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Two Things YOU Can Do To Get Theater Back FASTER (and one thing Broadway can do).

Over the past 48 hours, there has been a rising tide of positive sentiment about the return of the theater.

From the announcement on the Six twitter page to Chris Jones’ enthusiastic article in the Chicago Tribune, it feels like the Fall return for Broadway is for reals.

But there are two things that you can do to help get Broadway and theater back even faster . . . and one BIG thing Broadway can do.

Here’s what you can do.

Ready?

1.  Get vaccinated.

2.  Tell everyone you know to get vaccinated.

Simple, I know, but keep reading.

See, it’s clear to me (and has been for months) that Broadway will not return until the majority of the audience, if not the country/world, is vaccinated.

While other industries (e.g. professional sports) and even cities (e.g. Las Vegas) may come back sooner, that’s not going to be us. We don’t have the resources, the appetite for new technology, or even the government urging to get back faster.

We’ve always been, and always will be a giant steamship of an industry.  Our engines are old. We have many different types of personnel that don’t agree on how to sail the ship. And that makes it hard for us to avoid icebergs.

But rather than have our steamship sit idle in the water, there is something every theater owner, Broadway show, Off-Broadway show, union, ticketing site, etc, should do and should do now.

Since we CAN’T market our return just yet (since that return date is still TBD), I WOULDN’T market our return.

Instead, I’d turn all our marketing to “getting out the vaccination.” (We encourage people to vote, why wouldn’t we do this?)

If I was running the marketing department for all of the theater (insert evil laugh here), I’d ask every show to email their subscribers to tell them to get vaccinated. I’d ask those shows to post about it on social media, telling their fans that their favorite show will be back when they get vaccinated. And to share that message with their friends.

I’d create a “Got your vaccination?” campaign like “Got milk?”

But shows aren’t the only entities that should do this.  I’d tell every theater around the country to do the same. In EVERY state (especially those where hesitancy is a thing). Big regional houses, small community theaters, high schools, etc.

We all have one thing in common . . . we all need an audience. And that audience needs to be vaccinated.

I’d ask Telecharge to do it to send out a message to their millions of ticket buyers. I’d ask Ticketmaster to do it.

I’d ask everyone to do it. (My Streaming Stage Company list is going to do it – so if you’re signed up for that, you’ll see it coming.)

And by pushing vaccinations, we’d earn a few brownie points with the federal, state, and local governments, who are desperately trying to get this message out.

Oh, and double bonus . . . in addition to helping get Broadway back faster?  We’d also save some lives.  So there’s that.

So . . . . ask yourself . . . how can you spread the word (so we don’t spread the virus!).

If you want a social graphic that you can share, visit my Instagram and steal it.  Just promise to share it.

We’re gonna come back. But we CAN come back faster, and with bigger audiences, the faster the world gets vaccinated.

The health of our industry depends on it.

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Need info about how to get vaxxed?  Click here for full resources.


 

What NYC’s plan to market to tourists means to me.

Everything needs to be marketed.

You.  Your show.  Even NYC.

And, thankfully, NYC is going to spend $30mm on a massive marketing campaign to encourage tourists to come to NYC.   Since those tourists represent 65% of the Broadway audience, this is a big boon to Broadway.  By NYC shouldering some of the load, it will take some of the lifting off our industry’s and each specific show’s shoulders.

The campaign begins in June.

Which tells me two things . . .

We’re going to know when Broadway is coming back before then.

See, Broadway is NYC’s #1 destination.  The city wouldn’t spend this kind of cash unless it could say that Broadway was open.  You wouldn’t spend a ton of money marketing the Louvre if the Mona Lisa was out for a cleaning.  You would buy TV ads for a theme park if your big roller coaster was out of service.

For one, the ads wouldn’t work as well.  Two, if people came and found that their favorite attraction wasn’t open, they’d leave disappointed.

And that means bad word of mouth.  And everything from tickets to Broadway shows to plane tickets to NYC is all based on word-of-mouth.

So . . . the takeaways are threefold:

  1.  Everything needs to be marketed.  Period.
  2.  Don’t market those everythings . . . if the heart of it is missing.

And the third . . . which is the biggie, and it’s a prediction.

3.  Broadway shows are going to announce they are coming back BEFORE this campaign.  And I predict you’ll see announcements of big shows on sale in the next 2-4 weeks.

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Need help with marketing?  Social media, email, or otherwise?  Click here to learn how to market your show, yourself, or your anythings.

April 16, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

From the announcement of the first show to open in NYC to top theatres acting to root out ‘system failure’ of racism to Lin Manuel Miranda and Mayor DiBlasio opening up a vaccination center in Times Square. . . here’s what TheaterMakers were talking about this week . . .

 

1 – PERFECT CRIME to Reopen as First Show with Equity-Approved Cast in New York

It has been officially approved and announced by the Actors’ Equity Association that Perfect Crime will reopen. The show is set to open beginning April 17th and will be the first show to open with an Equity-approved cast in New York City.

Read more: broadwayworld.com

 

2 – ‘The heat is on’: top theatres act to root out ‘system failure’ of racism

“The Young Vic and Royal Court theatres have entered into a process that aims to root out systemic racism from their venues. Both London institutions have signed a partnership with the social enterprise Sour Lemons that will interrogate the internal structures that uphold institutional racism, raise awareness and accountability, and listen to staff’s experiences of racism inside the buildings.”

Read more: theguardian.com

 

3 – ‘Bridgerton The Musical’ TikTok Creators Abigail Barlow & Emily Bear Sign With CAA

Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, creators of the viral TikTok smash Bridgerton The Musical, have signed with CAA and Kraft-Engel Management.” The duo first came into the spotlight because of their viral Bridgerton-inspired number in January. They’ve been documenting the journey on TikTok, with their songs and performances reaching more than 165 million views with fans all over the world.

Read More: deadline.com

 

4 – T. Fellowship to be renamed in honor of Hal Prince

The T. Fellowship has been renamed the Prince Fellowship in honor of its founder, the late Hal Prince. The 2021 Prince Fellowship, which will open up applications at the end of April, will run from September 2021 through August 2022. 

Read more: broadwaynews.com

 

5 – Lin-Manuel Miranda, de Blasio open Broadway vaccination site in Times Square

A vaccination center was opened on Monday in Times Square for all Broadway workers. Appointments will be reserved for the community of theatermakers living in NY and working on Broadway. The center will be staffed by fellow community members, including “Wicked” company manager Susan Sampliner.  

Read More: broadwaynews.com

 

Fun on a Friday: The Late Show spoofed Hamilton with a ‘My Shot’ vaccine parody

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