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The Tony’s Effect

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The American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards are arguably the most magical, high-quality television viewing experience every year. For those already in the know, they get to enjoy the satisfaction of seeing incredible productions shared with all the world and cheer for their favorites, celebrating victories or arguing unjust losses. For those who don’t partake in the arts very often, it’s an eye-opening view into an entirely new, wonderful entertainment experience, often sparking a lifetime interest. It’s kind of like the Super Bowl for Broadway lovers.

Beyond the night itself are the memories that viewers take with them. Months and years later, people remember a high-energy or heart-wrenching performance they saw unwind on the Tony’s stage. Many of us still remember a song we saw performed when we were quite young, amazed at the caliber of talent being displayed. It’s not just one night of entertainment; it sticks with you.

So, just for fun, we’re taking a look to see if the Broadway Box Office shows any signs of a connection to that magical night each year. Similar to the Oscars, one would expect the winners to see a rise in popularity, but what about the losers?

This year’s ceremony was on June 7th. In the weeks prior, attendance could be seen building for several high-buzz contenders. As a matter of fact, thirteen of 31 shows grossed $1 million or more, including An American in Paris, Something Rotten!, The King and I, and The Audience. Even smaller venue contenders saw a bump, like Fun Home and Hand to God (which saw an 89% filling of the seats for the week). As buzz rises, so does attendance, so it seems.

That’s not to say that all shows saw great numbers. Gigi, The Visit, Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2, and even On the Town all had quite low percentages of potential. With the exception of Best Costume Design for Wolf Hall, perhaps we can look to the box office takes when making our own Tony predictions.

But, what about after the awards were handed out? Let’s just say that June saw tons and tons of sold out shows, particularly for The Audience, which ended its run on an ever-present high note. The numbers grew steadily (but not for all Broadway shows; many nominees and all winners saw increases) and seemed to feed off of the pre-Tony’s buzz. Around July 4th, most shows took a dive in ticket sales, but otherwise the winners saw steady numbers.

It’s important to remember that while many of the regular theatregoers were filling seats after the awards, many look to the Tony’s to plan more long-term trips to NYC. Hence, many shows will continue to see financial success months after at-home viewers got their first glimpse. Many people will plan an entire trip based on when their show is running (to catch it before it closes) and when their budgets and schedule will allow a trip. Especially with summer vacations (and, yes, even holiday trips) being planned, it’s clear that the “Tony’s effect” will ebb and flow, but definitely show itself in individual box office showings in the coming months.

The Spark of the Art – Do you know how to ignite?

What is it that fills the velvet cushioned seats of a theater with eager bodies? What draws people to travel hours to peer at a collection of paintings? What causes people to devote endless hour upon hour to repetitive, rote practice, sacrificing personal joys and free time with loved ones? Both complex and simple all at once, the answer is the art spark.

Shared by artist and audience member alike, the art spark is one of those wondrous things that make man unique from other earthly creatures. It’s the innate urge to express oneself and equally to observe such expression literally sparks an inward need for more. Once a patron of the arts, always a patron of the arts.

The spark is experienced in all walks of life. From the largest, most renowned stage to the barn-turned-community theater; from a high school poetry slam to a gallery of the highest ilk – they all have sprung from the passion of creation. For any performer – be they dancer, actor, artist, poet, writer, or athlete – the rush of anxious excitement that comes with displaying the proof of one’s dedicated practice is like no other. While the quality of one’s work may not (and possibly should not) be measured by its popularity, the great purpose of art is for it to be ultimately shared and enjoyed.

In this way, the audience holds an integral role in the artistic process. Their own art spark allows them to share in the artist’s excitement. They revel in the artist’s successes; cushion the blow of failure. Be it through admiration, sheer enjoyment, or empathy, they form a trust-based relationship with the artist. At times, a twinge of jealousy – the “I wish I could do that” feeling – leads the spark to turn audience member into full-fledged performer. After all, what great artist didn’t start as admiring fan at one time?

And so it goes. Shakespeare to Oscar Wilde to Noel Coward. Bach to Verdi to Copland. DaVinci to Van Gogh to Picasso. Artistic endeavors beget appreciation which beget further new endeavors, which allow the arts as a whole to live on. The simple nervous energy of an opening night is single-handedly continuing the lengthy tradition begun centuries before.

All because of that little spark.

megan

How a Young Family Prepares for the Theatre

A night of theater is a simple formula: dinner, theater, maybe coffee and dessert later over a lengthy chat about the interesting points of the show. It’s an exciting yet relaxing change from the norm, perfect for recharging and enlivening playgoers.

For some audience members, the evening is more of a process, though. Far more effort is put into the enjoyment of a night of theater, and that variation from the norm is sharper for several reasons.

Take a recent example right out of my planner. There was a time that a date night of theater meant next to no planning, and occurred about once every month or two. My husband and I would meet up after work, grab a lovely dinner beforehand (he never made reservations), and off to the theater we went. Intermission and after-show coffee would bring about chats of personal connections with themes and characters, comparisons to other shows, and analyses of whether we could get away with such a show at our own community theater group. We’d leisurely head home and keep chatting, still buzzing on caffeine and inspiration.

Fast-forward to now. Theater experiences are few and far between since our son came along. When we do take in a show, we weigh heavily which show is worth our time and effort, sifting through every local theater’s season options. We hardly ever select a repeat show anymore, whereas we used to enjoy comparing the variations between different productions. We definitely take less risks, mostly because our free time has become a more precious commodity.

After selecting (weeks or months in advance) the show that we’re interested in, we analyze the best babysitting option and exactly how the evening will go. We plan, discuss, organize, and plan some more. From the fastest route to the closest restaurant to the exact minute we need to leave to find a prime parking spot, it’s almost laughable.

Once inside the theater, though, we’re home. Joining the din of the crowd, we enjoy the laughter, gasps, and boisterous applause that accompany live theater. We read our programs voraciously, socialize unexpectedly with old friends in the aisle, and share knowing smirks when the audience reacts conservatively to a bawdy joke. We leave on bouncing feet, reenergized with the same old feeling. Only, this time, we rush off to relieve the babysitter and drag an over-tired toddler home. We all pass out and feel exhausted for days, calling it a totally worth it “theater hangover.”

We know that, one day, we’ll miss these days of childhood innocence, so we don’t wish them away. However, we find encouragement in the fact that we’ll be bringing up our son in a theater-loving family and will be able to share theater-going experiences together as he grows up. Before we know it, our house will be sadly empty and we’ll have the luxury to frequent more and more productions like the old days. It brings me to wonder if any of our over-planning practices will spill into those calmer, quieter times.

Megan

Dirty Data You Are The Talk Of The Town

Everyone is talking dirty, dirty data that is. They’re quickly realizing that without a data strategy, data becomes quickly outdated and is more of a liability vs. an asset. CMO’s can no longer hide their dirty laundry; the data must be cleaned in order to improve campaign costs and ROI.

Is my data dirty? According to Salesforce.com, YES.

• 7% of your current data is Duplicated
• 21% is Dead or considered Useless or Dead
• 74% is Outdated
• 90% is Incomplete

Instead of discussing the potential damage dirty data can cause a campaign, let’s take some action and find a data hygiene provider to help.

Vendor Selection: You will need to send a spreadsheet with First Name, Last Name, Address, City, State, Zip and Account Code to reference back to your system. Most data hygiene providers will clean your data up to 10,000 addresses for free. This will let you make an informed decision on which provider to select. Be sure to review the match rate at both the address level and then at the surname level. Match rates on address level usually are in the 90% range, while matches on the surname level usually fall into the 75% range.

What you can expect: The data hygiene provider will standardize your data in accordance with the United States Postal Office standards and usually will return your data CASS certified.

Now that your data is standardized, the next step is cleaning your data. I will cover this in my next post.