The Broadway Fan in 2018 and Beyond

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What are the hot topics we will all be talking about in 2018 (and beyond) on the business of Broadway? {Yes, I like to geek out on this conversation.}

With the first annual Industry Day at BroadwayCon just around the corner, we’ll have the ideal platform to geek out on this question together. Next Thursday, January 25th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Times Square, hundreds of professionals from the broader Broadway community will gather for a day dedicated to engaging in an open conversation around the business of Broadway. More specifically, we’ll be hosting an enlightened dialog around nurturing and growing the very important “fan” relationship.

If you don’t yet have a ticket, a limited quantity is still available here. You won’t want to miss being a part of the discussion (and the opportunity to geek out).

In partnership with our friends at Mischief Management, I was charged with curating thought-provoking content for the day. While exploring topics and themes, I had the opportunity to speak with many impassioned folks from both inside and outside the industry. Though there were varying views and perspectives on the right way to foster a relationship with fans, a lot of the feedback relayed to three core questions many business professionals will look to answer in 2018 and beyond.

What does the fan relationship look like beyond ticket sales? Broadway is much bigger than just our own backyard — it reaches across oceans and continents. From Wicked to The Lion King, to The Phantom of the Opera, to Hamilton, to The Book of Mormon… these are truly global brands with global fan bases. Many people who identify themselves as Broadway fans may never actually step foot in the theatre — for one reason or another — but remain vocal advocates for the brand. What motivates them? How do they want to engage? And what opportunities aren’t we leveraging that we should?

Are our theatres reflective of the communities we serve? Look at the stage. Look at the audience in seats. Look at the boardrooms. What we see is a direct reflection of the industry we’ve built together and will become a critical subject over the years to come. Is our pricing strategy as a business truly serving us by merely rewarding the highest bidder? What investments are being made into our local public-school systems to ensure a healthy pipeline of future talent and audiences? Are we doing enough to reach out to diverse pools of potential fans that are currently not under the Broadway tent? What efforts are being employed to ensure true accessibility to all (including the visual and hearing impaired)? These are tough questions that are centered on guaranteeing the people surrounding us are reflective of our community at large. It was humbling to see the news this week on some of the strides made this past season in diversifying the industry. Let’s see if this momentum can continue to move us forward on the right path. Who will take the lead?

How are we building a pipeline for future fan development? Audience development is a muddled conversation because it typically pits short-term needs with long-term wants in the industry. The sports business is a master at this topic by churning out a legacy with each passing season (often regardless of the quality of play on the field). What is Broadway’s version of legacy and how do we fuel one of our own? Every night, new audiences are pouring into our theatres. Look no further than the Dear Evan Hansen phenomenon of this past season; they are generating record-breaking numbers while both nurturing and broadening the audience of our industry in so many new and exciting ways. As I look ahead, I am confident that — as an industry — we have many more opportunities on the horizon to keep up this momentum of audience expansion. We simply need to take advantage and hold ourselves accountable to keep it moving. To further build on our potential, take a look at the amazing shows opening this season with The Bands Visit, Mean Girls, SpongeBob Squarepants, Escape to Margaritaville, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Children of a Lesser God to name a few. What can we be doing — together and individually — so these remarkable experiences are not only creating magical memories for today’s patrons but instilling theatre-going habits for years to come? Building a true legacy.

It’s an exciting time to be in the business of Broadway. We have more opportunities as well as more responsibility. There are no easy answers to the laundry list of questions we face as an industry, but that’s what makes the journey of our business worth coming to work each day. What fun would it be if we had it all figured out anyway? I hope to see you all next Thursday at Industry Day, and I look forward to hearing your perspective. Let’s keep talking — even after the curtain falls.

Written by

Founder, Situation (www.situation.nyc)

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