September 3, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

Here’s what TheaterMakers were talking about this week . . .

 

1 – Broadway Theater Safety

“Our building is the safest building you can walk into.” Read more below about how Pass Over continues to lead the way back to live theater and get some tips on how to make your own shows the safest places you can walk into. 

Read more: www.rollingstone.com 

 

2 – “They’ve Come Home”

I can’t wait until all of us get to come home. Check out the homecoming stories of three incredible theatermakers. What are you most excited to get back to as live theater returns?

Read more: www.playbill.com 

 

3 – NYC AirBNB

Airbnb has just named NYC as its most booked destination in the U.S. To those who said New York may never come back . . . looks like I’ll see you this fall. 

Read more: www.timeout.com  

 

4 – Disney Theatricals Return

If these last 18 months have taught me anything, it’s that most of us really are all in the same boat. Check out how Disney Theatricals is approaching its comeback below. 

Read more: www.variety.com  

 

5 – Broadstream Premiere 

More streaming! More theater! Broadstream, a brand new streaming service offering commissioned pieces, is set to premiere later this month. What piece are you most excited to see?

Read more: www.medium.com 

 

Fun on a Friday: 

If you haven’t already, check out The Broadway League’s new “This is Broadway” campaign (featuring Oprah!). 

 

Watch the video here:

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My Revised Look At What Broadway’s Recovery Will Look Like

Things have changed since May of 2020.

Shoot, things have changed since yesterday!

But since May of 2020, when I first posted my “What The Broadway Recovery Will Look Like” series? Well, dang it, can any of you have imagined that we’d only have one Broadway show running a year later?

Not me. Not me.

Now that we’ve been through the great theatrical drought of 2020 (thanks, Covid!), I thought it was time to revise my prediction.

Because, in case I didn’t mention it. Things have ch-ch-ch-changed.

If you click here, you’ll see that last May, on this very blog, I predicted a “fishing hook recovery”, as opposed to a V-shaped or U-shaped recovery.

Here was my analysis in bullet point form:

  • Prior to the pandemic, things were going along gangbusters.
  • Then we slammed into the Covid wall and Broadway went from 60 to zero in zero seconds flat.
  • And we stayed there . . . and are still there . . . 
  • I then predicted a supersonic rise the moment that Broadway turned its lights back on.
  • After that, we’d have a continual upward trend, getting us back to where we were before in due time.
  • See here for the visual.

So what has changed?

It’s those last two bullet points that could use a rewrite.

Broadway is going to roar back to life when the big shows open back up. The pent-up demand, the support from locals, and the incredible amount of press that Broadway’s reopening is going to generate, is going to sell tickets. (If I had a show running, I’d be working hard to get as early an opening as possible, so I could be part of those press stories.)

And oh the word-of-mouth!

As I’ve been saying since the start of the shutdown, close your eyes for a moment and imagine what it’s like to be at the first performance of Hamilton . . . the first performance of Mrs. Doubtfire . . . Hadestown, or whatever your favorite Broadway show is. I mean, the ovation, the tears, and yeah, the word-of-mouth that’s going to sizzle through the city later that night. (Makes you want to buy a ticket right now, doesn’t it? Here’s a link! Do it!!!)

That said, I’m now predicting that we’ll have a fantastic fall and an even better holiday season.  (Of course, this comes with a big “Delta Variant” asterisk – with hopes and prayers that the unvaccinated begin to understand that they have the power to stop this thing.)

But, after the holidays? Well, that’s where the big change in my thinking is.

Am I doomsdaying?  No, no . . . NO.

Broadway will return to its pre-pandemic glory days. Thankfully, the economy is still roaring along, unlike in 2008. Our ticket buyers still have disposable income to spend on entertainment (and our tickets will also be cheaper – so maybe they’ll see more shows with the same money!)

The recovery is going to take longer, however. And more specifically, in January, I expect a big dip.  

In other ‘doodles,’ here’s how I think Broadway’s recovery is going to look now.

Why?

Well, it’s simple. January/February is always a difficult time. And while New Yorkers and locals will support our shows in the fall . . . the winter is something altogether different. Many aren’t even in the city!

Second, and this is the big one . . . NYC tourism, especially international tourism, which makes up a little of our usual winter-slack, will not have returned yet.

See, last May, we never thought we’d be down this long. And the longer we’re down, the longer it takes trends like tourism to restore to previous levels.

Here’s a prediction from NYC & Company from the NY Times:

New York attracted a record 66.6 million tourists last year and was expected to break that record again in 2020, according to NYC & Company, the city’s tourism promotion agency.

The virus upended those expectations, and the city may reach only a third of last year’s total. NYC & Company has forecast 38.2 million visitors in 2021, rising to 69 million by 2024. Still, it predicts that the number of international visitors will take even longer to return to pre-pandemic levels.

With one-third fewer tourists going into 2022, we’re definitely going to have a smaller audience.

Broadway’s demographic is about 65% tourist. And 18% international.

And they’re not going to be here right away. And definitely not in January. Unfortunately, that means, we may have a little thinning of our herd come winter.

So, we’re coming back, people. But like everything in life, from the Dow Jones Industrial Average, to your own personal career trajectory, it’s not going to be a straight line up, like I had hoped (and should have known).

Broadway’s recovery is going to go up, take a step back, and then start to climb again . . . and just take a little more time than any of us would like. 

But, with hard work, great shows and even better marketing, we will get there. (I do think Summer of ‘22 will see a nice surge – and the good kind.)

And I can’t wait until the YEAR that we once again celebrate a new yearly Broadway box office record.

I’ll be around. You?

For more conversations on the state of the industry, you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Come say hi!

Yet ANOTHER thing we need to do before Broadway comes back.

The To-Do list continues to grow.

Last Saturday night after my kid went to sleep, I scooted down to my office to wrap up a bit more work.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Times Square was shut down.

If you missed the news, it was because there was a shooting. And, while none of the three bystanders were critically wounded, one was a four-year child.

I don’t remember the last time this happened. Maybe in the 90s when I got here.  When Times Square was a different place.

Anyone who has been to Times Square over the past year knows that is a different place again. I’ve seen drug deals in front of the Belasco Theater. I’ve seen a drinking-out-of-the-bottle-cocktail party in front of The Marquis. I’ve seen more homeless who need help than ever before.

In other words, I’ve seen a Times Square that is not exactly what tourists are going to want to flock to when they can.

And after all the momentum we built up last week? Well, it takes just one incident like the one over the weekend, to move back three spaces and lose a turn.

We’ve got a lot to do to come back. We’ve got Covid-19 safety policies to put into place. We’ve got equality policies to put into place. We’ve got shows to put up.  And audiences to convince to come back.

And, now, we need to remember that one of the most important factors in a brick-and-mortar industry’s success?

Location.

Location.

Lo. Ca. Tion.

Our political leaders have come through for us in many ways throughout this pandemic, and I’m thankful for their support. And now we need them to focus their efforts on restoring the beacon of light and energy that is Times Square.

And we need to help too. The Broadway theaters are the big citizens on this block.  We need to flex our muscles and do our part.

See, Times Square used to scare people away. I know, because I was one of them. I used to walk around it or bike through it after I escaped two muggings and defrauded out of $100 in 1991.

And for the sake of Broadway’s comeback, we can’t let that happen again.

That’s why this year’s NYC Mayoral race is more important than ever.

I’m not going political, don’t worry.  And not suggesting a candidate to you at all.  But if you are an NYC resident, I will suggest that you vote . . . and vote for the candidate that you believe will restore the epicenter of our city, and possibly the world, to the glory that it was.  Even if that means tourist-packed sidewalks again.

Learn about the candidates running for Mayor here. 

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.

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