Broadway’s 4th and Final Quarter results: How’d we gross this year?

Well, that’s all she wrote, kiddies. The final bell has run on the 2009-10 Broadway season.  All the grosses have been counted, and, as Jerry Lewis would say during his Labor Day Telethon when he wanted to check the tote board . . . Timpani!

The Fourth Quarter proved fairly strong, with the new crop of plays and musicals adding significant coinage to the till (especially the new million dollar club member, Addams Family).

So where did we end up?

At first glance, things look groovy, with a 1.5% bump in grosses over last season and a total yearly gross of over a billion buckaroonies! However, as Charlotte St. Martin pointed out in the League’s release that went out yesterday, “If we factor in estimated figures for Young Frankenstein which ran 32 weeks in 2008-2009 [and did not report its grosses], we could be down slightly this season, perhaps as much as 1%.”

More concerning to me, and yes, this is my broken record moment, is the fact that as I unfortunately predicted, attendance dropped by a startling 3% this season (factor in Young Frankenstein, and you’ve got more of a monster type drop).  This marks the first time in 25 years that attendance has dropped three years in a row.

It’s not unexpected, considering the economic sh*t-storm we just went through (and seem to be still going through if you have watched the Dow over the last few weeks), but it is a trend that I find more disturbing than watching Friday the 13th on Halloween . . . in the woods, by myself, a half a mile from a mental institution.

But this week begins a new year.  And although this summer doesn’t have a lot of new shows on the books to start off with a bang, let’s cross our fingers, and raise our capitalizations and hope that this year, the trend turns the other way . . .

I’m predicting an uptick in both grosses and attendance for this coming season. Partly because . . . it can’t get much lower . . .

Can it?

To read the release from The League, click here.

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Advice from an Expert: Vol. XIII. What is The Broadway League?

I mentioned The Broadway League in a post recently, and a new reader dropped me a note asking just what the heck “The League” was.

I was in the middle of composing my own response, when I realized that I had a few questions about the League and its history myself.  So I decided to call in an Expert for all the answers!

So, here she is, Ms. Charlotte St. Martin, the Executive Director of The Broadway League (and #19 on BroadwaySpace.com’s list of Broadway’s Most Powerful People) with a guest blog on The League.

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In 1930 the brand new League of NY Theatres stated in a document called “The Primer of the League of NY Theatres”  that “a new stimulus is being given to the Theatre in general as a result of the formation of the League.  While that was 79 years ago, it would be safe to say that the League still does that.  And the purpose of the League at that time, “that the public may be assured of better theatrical conditions, greater convenience in purchasing theatre tickets and a vigorous policy by the Members of the League to place the American theatre in that high position which it deserves to hold in the community” would still hold true today and would be a great mission statement today, as well as then.

Other stated purposes at that time are still quite relevant today.

– To eliminate theatre ticket speculation and to protect the public from the exorbitant charges made by ticket brokers for desirable locations.
– To make theatre going easy for the public.
– To make it possible for the public to buy tickets for good seats at theatre box offices.

Even though our name was different then, it is not without merit to mention that one of the key goals of The Broadway League today is not so dissimilar. We have a committee that has been working on an initiative to educate consumers on a national level about “How to buy a ticket from the official sources of Broadway” to insure that our theatregoers are getting what they pay for!

In addition to New York producers and theatre owners,  members of The Broadway League also include the presenters of Broadway in over 150 cities and 250 venues across the country. The organization is a member-driven trade association representing the commercial theatre industry in those areas most important to them including:

1.  Labor

We negotiate with the 14 unions representing Broadway in NYC.

2.  Marketing and Branding 

Through audience development programs such as Broadway on Broadway, Kids’ Night on Broadway and Back 2 Broadway, one of our key goals is to introduce new audiences to theatre through education and opportunities to experience live theatre.  In addition, another key goal is to differentiate a Broadway show from other forms of live entertainment, and the branding campaign launched last year entitled “Now that’s Broadway” is the face of that initiative.

3.  Government Relations

We communicate the needs of commercial theatre with our local, state and national elected officials.  Whether we are working on improving the traffic pattern for NYC, or fighting the attack on our wireless devices with the FCC, we are there to represent the needs of our members. A key new initiative is to work with our lobbyists in Washington D.C. to create tax incentives for the producers of commercial theatre, which ultimately creates a significant number of jobs across the country.

4.  Conferences and Forums

We host meetings, conferences, forums, and other types of events which are opportunities for our members to learn, network and solve industry challenges.

5.  Research

We maintain historical data on individual playhouses and productions – the Internet Broadway Database (www.IBDB.com). The League is “the” source of information about commercial theatre that is important to our members. We collect weekly box office grosses for Broadway and Touring Broadway, and provide research reports on the demographics of the Broadway and Touring Broadway audiences as well as Broadway’s economic impact.

6.  Tony Awards

As co-presenter of the annual Tony Awards which are aired on CBS-TV, the awards recognize excellence and provide national exposure for Broadway.

Over the years we have been quite active in a variety of issues. We convinced the N.Y. State Legislature to drop proposed draconian censorship laws, spearheaded a boycott of segregated playhouses, fought McCarthyism and the Hollywood blacklist by refusing to shutter productions because of artists’ political views,  collaborated with the theatrical unions and the City of New York to create a pension plan for Broadway employees, plus so much more.

The more things change, the more they remain the same? No!  Perhaps our mission in fulfilling the needs of our members and theatregoers has remained the same.  But as those needs became more complex and diverse, so has the evolution of our organization into a modern way of thinking and one that yields positive results to better our industry.

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For more information on The League, including how to become a member, visit www.BroadwayLeague.com 

 

 

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