Free tickets to Boom for this weekend.

Ben Brantley gave a bang-up review for Boom this morning, the new Off-Broadway play at Ars Nova.

And I’ve got some free tickets for this weekend, if any of you want to see it.

Here are the details.

Friday, March 21st (tonight) at 8 PM
Saturday, March 22nd at 8 PM

Ars Nova
511 West 54th St.

To get your tickets, email rsvp@arsnovanyc.com.  Tickets are very limited, but they’ll accommodate at least 10 of you.  First come, first Boomed.

I’m going tonight, so maybe I’ll see you there.  If you do, and I’ve never met you face to face, please say hello!   (I look like the guy in the upper left hand corner of this page.)

Oh, and props to Marketing Director, Rosey Strub, for finding talkers to give away tickets to without papering.

Stuck? See something else.

If you’re like most writers, you probably visualize what you write.

You see the room that your characters are in.  You see the color of your character’s hair.  You see the clothes they are wearing.

If you’re like most writers, you probably get writer’s block now and then too.

Then what do you do?

Here’s one of my tricks for breaking the block:

See your characters in a totally different room.  Change their hair color.  Take off their clothes.

Writer’s block is writer’s rut.  Just seeing the situation differently forces you to think differently.

And when you think differently, well, that’s when the creativity comes, whether you’re writing or budgeting or whatever.

Where is the profit in non-profit?

Have you ever visited the website CharityNavigator.org?

It’s an incredible tool for those interested in making contributions to non-profit organizations.  The site analyzes financial reports of charities and then them, giving the user the chance to see where his or her money is going.

You know what else it does?

It shows the salaries of the executives of each charity.

That’s right.  By accessing public records, this site gives you the chance to see how much the head honchos at organizations like Amnesty International, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Feed The Children take home every year.

So what kind of numbers do you think you would come up if you searched the site for, oh, I don’t know, say some prominent “not-for-profit” theaters around the country?

Would you be shocked if I told you that execs of some of these theaters take home in excess of $300k?

How about $500k?

What if I told you that there were some that earned close to $700,000???

That’s more than the guys who run The Red Cross, The American Cancer Society or The Partnership for a Drug Free America!

Don’t believe me?  Go on.  Try it.  If you’re like me, you’ll be typing in names of non-profits for hours (and maybe thinking about starting your own non-profit).

Let me make something clear.  I don’t mind when people make money.  I don’t begrudge someone being able to negotiate great deals for themselves.  Good for them!  Some of these Guys and Dolls have built these theaters up from plays in basements into major contributors to the modern theater.  They deserve to be rewarded.  Get your salary, guys.  Go for it.  If you can get your people to make donations to afford those payrolls, even if you’re earning more than the guys at Oxfam, then you deserve it.

What I have trouble with is that these not-for-profit theaters get better deals from vendors, some unions, actors, authors, etc. than their commercial producing counterparts, simple because of their “non-profit” status (someone did a helluva job marketing that “title”), no matter what folks at the tippy-top are being paid.  Many own theaters in major cities all over the country have the ability to get tax breaks and accept donations, and so on.

Commercial producers don’t get these perks.

Yet, with 4 out of 5 Broadway shows failing to recoup their investment, and maybe 29 out of 30 Off-Broadway shows failing to recoup . . . the question is, aren’t most commercial productions “non-profit” as well?  As tough as non-profits have it (and it ain’t easy and I commend those that are so committed to mission statements that others, including myself, wouldn’t touch), I believe the commercial producer has it tougher.

So perhaps all of the agents, vendors, etc. can stop looking at us commercial producers like the Scrooge McDucks of the theater world, especially when we lose 80% of the time.

Why don’t you treat us the same way as those other guys that are taking home large guaranteed checks?  Give us the same deals up front . . . and then, hit us harder when we recoup.
I’m happy to give you more money on the back than on the front.  Just allow us to get there.  You’ve already demonstrated that your clients, members, etc. can work for the lower amounts, so why not let us have access to those deals as well?  And we’ll even pay a higher premium on the back end just for our (ahem)  “for-profit” status, since your peeps helped us get there.

Oh yeah, one more thing.  As I’ve blogged about before, one of the questions I am asked most often is “Where can I find people who make enough bank that they may have some disposable income to put in a show?”

I think I just found a few.

Will the internet and technology kill the theater?

There are a lot of doomsdayers out there.

As more and more options for entertainment become available to us on our computers, our cell phones, our cell phone/pda/waffle makers, etc., a lot of folks out there are predicting the end of theater as we know it.

Not me.

I say, bring it on.

Bring on as many different forms of two dimensional entertainment as you silicon valley guys can dream up.

The more the market is flooded with 2D, the more rare the 3D experience becomes, which means the more valuable it is.

Scarcity increases value which then increases demand.

The more screens the consumer has to stare at all day and all night, the more opportunity there is for us to show them something much more exciting.

Something live.

 

They’re gonna to be dying for it.  So we just can’t disappoint.

You up for the challenge?

Playbill.com takes a test. And passes just by taking it.

Playbill.com gets a lot of money for its email blasts.  They charge shows like mine $6,200 to blast discount offers to its 325,000 members.

Each time they blast, they sell tickets.  And every time they blast, they get unsubscribes.  So, to blast when they are not getting paid is risky, because they lose some members, which could mean less tickets for the next client, which means it could be harder to justify the $6,200.

But this weekend, they sent a blast without getting paid, and without selling a thing.

They sent a survey.

They did it so they could get demographic info about their members, find out what they liked, what they didn’t like, and so on.  All information that they can use to make their members happier, and therefore grow their list, and then make even more money for their clients, justifying even higher costs.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of surveys and testing for every aspect of what we do.  Like everything else in our internet-age, it’s not that hard any more, so there is no excuse not to do it.  Great companies like Survey Monkey make it ultra-easy and ultra-economical for you to send a survey asking for opinions on your artwork, your first act, your tag line, etc.

I got into a discussion with an industry pro who thought that testing wasn’t worth it.  I couldn’t disagree more.  Testing is part our every other part of our life, why shouldn’t it be part of our business?

If you’re sick, you take your temperature.  But even if you’re not sick, you still go in for a yearly physical.

If your car is making strange rattling noises, you take it to the shop.  But even if it’s running great, you take it in for an inspection and a tune-up.

If there is the possibility that you could do something better (and that should be all of us), then you must test.  Props to Playbill for realizing that a short term loss (possible unsubscribes) could mean a long term gain.

Some testing tips:

  • Who is taking your test is even more important than the test itself.  Make sure it’s an appropriate audience.
  • If you test, you must be prepared to do something with the results, no matter what they say.  If the SATs didn’t count and you could just disregard them, they wouldn’t be worth taking.
  • Take tests yourself.  Learn what to ask from what others are asking.
  • Take the results and add them your own instincts to make your final decisions.  Colleges look at SATs yes, but they also look at personal essays.  Testing is not the only tool in your box.
Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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