A few months back, Broadway producer Ken Davenport announced the first “Crowd -Funded” Broadway musical. This fall’s Broadway revival of “Godspell” is an experiment in what is essentially the commericial theatre’s answer to Kickstarter. The goal is to make producing available to people who “would love the opportunity to invest in a Broadway musical and become Broadway Producers themselves, despite the obvious risks, if they only knew how, and if only the entry point was more affordable.” Just the other day, Ken added a spin-off blog that will chart the next 100 days until “Godspell”’s opening night on Broadway.
The inspiration was from the question, “What does a producer do?” Davenport’s response is to open up the process and show what types of issues and decisions he needs to make regarding the show on a daily basis. I think this is fabulous. And aside from being an interesting new idea and a practical way to raise money for your production, it taps into one of the huge challenges that is continuing to face the arts community. “How do we turn audience members into active participants?” You’ve read it on a million blogs and articles; we as consumers have become accustomed to and expect to be able to interact with our media sources; we comment on blog posts and Youtube videos, we create our own content and we Tweet our reactions to our experiences in real time. Davenport’s idea creates buy-in and a sense of ownership in the final product, plus it turns every one of those small investors into a mini-marketer for the show. Granted, this isn’t a totally new idea, but a continuation of this continuing challenge to create investment.
In this vein, we’ve all jumped online and created blogs for our companies and productions, but are we keeping up with them? Are we treating them as “add-ons” that may help us get more butts in seats or are we investing the proper thought and time in them to make sure they are truly adding value to the theatergoing experience?
The recent TCG conference and Boston Theatre Conference both stressed that now is the time to get out in front of these new technologies rather than race to catch up. Whether it’s creating a Tweeting section in the balcony of your theatre or encouraging your actors to shoot vlogs about their experiences researching their characters, we can’t afford NOT
to do these things. SpeakEasy’s casting announcements on Facebook last week and Central Square Theatre’s online “Matt & Ben” trivia were wonderful and exciting ways to create buzz and a sense of an event.
What have you seen out there that’s working and getting you involved? Our Community Engagement Committee is a big part of this. Have you joined?