Monday, August 15, 2011

Public Relations and Fundraising

I haven't written a post here in a long time.  My apologies.  After my first year of grad school in which I ate, slept and breathed Performing Arts Management 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I was kind of burnt out.  Not that I haven't been working in theater management all summer and LOVING it, I just wanted to stop writing about it for a minute.  If you're interested in reading about my journey to my first marathon, you can read about that here, but for all you arts junkies, I'm going to try to be more consistent on this front.

One thing that's been nagging at me ever since I started doing some work for an independent PR professional is how similar Public Relations is to Development.  A good Marketer will get you to buy a product.  His job is to convince you that you should purchase sometime. A good PR Pro and Fundraiser won't sell you anything.  She will give you the facts about a compelling story.  If she pitches to the right audience, that will be enough.

In this vein, even more than in marketing, it is important to KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE in pr and development.  The most crucial step is identifying who will be interested in your pitch.  Step two is to cultivate the relationship.  Date your donor or journalist, so to speak.  Once the relationship is formed, most of your job should be done.  All of the foundation work has been set in place. 

Now all you have to do is give them the facts.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hey Ladies!

Thomas Cott's "You've Cott Mail" for today boasts a bulk of articles about the lack of women on Broadway (and in film) in major creative roles.  This isn't a new conversation, but it makes me crazy.  The ubermajority of Broadway ticket buyers are in fact WOMEN, so why is it so difficult for a female playwright to get her work produced?

We know there's a problem, so what are we going to do about it?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are Revivals Killing Theatre?

cover bands are far less exciting than the real thing
I recently had a conversation with my boyfriend,who is decidedly not a theater fan, about what makes the experience of going to see a band better than going to a show.  I was surprised to hear his answer.  I fully expected something along the lines of, the atmosphere at a live music performance is different, or they serve beer and let you talk to your friends, but that was not the case.

He said (loosely quoted), "When you go to see a musician or a band play, you're seeing the artist perform something they wrote, something that's original and creative.  A play is just a bunch of performers rehashing something some dead guy wrote fifty years ago, or something that's based on a movie."

Ouch.  I argued that there were lots of new plays and musicals, and there's really exciting work that happens off-Broadway and around the country.  Unfortunately however, the majority of non-theater fans only know theater through Broadway, and Broadway's churned out a lot of revivals, and a lot of derivative works in the past decade.  Add to that the fact that it's often easier to get a star on board for a proven show title as opposed to a risky new project, and we're sending a message that revivals are king.  To add insult to injury, many of our regional theaters around the country stopped producing original works, or drastically cut back, in exchange for big Broadway tours that fill houses.  Most people just aren't seeing new theater, because we haven't made it a priority.

I'm not knocking revivals, it's important to pay tribute to great works of our past from time to time, but, when old material is getting in the way of new works, we're choking our art form to death.  If we don't provide more opportunities for living writers, composers and lyricists to put their work on stage, there won't be any living theater artists for long.  They will find other careers where they can get their work produced.  Additionally, what's cooler for an audience than being able to see the artist in person?  We can't provide that opportunity for many of the shows that are produced today.  One of the "wow" factors of live performance is lost.

We're failing our artists and our audiences.  What are we going to do about it?