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Archive for the ‘Developing New Shows’ Category

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Wonderful news out of Albany yesterday, which is not something I get to say too often. No April Fool’s joke, the State Legislature approved a tax credit in the state budget for FY14-15 that will cover 25% of production-related costs for shows that tech and/or try out road tours, or pre-Broadway productions in the State of New York outside the boundaries of New York City. I first mentioned the possibility of this tax credit back in October 2013 in this post.

Below are links to several articles that cover this recent win-win for New York State and Broadway tours and pre-Broadway productions. And if it’s a success this will show, once again, how beneficial the performing arts can be to local economies. Hopefully, this will set a good example and one day a tax credit will also be considered for other sectors of the theatre industry, especially the historically and culturally significant, but vulnerable independent theatre sector in New York City where so many performers, directors, designers, managers, and producers that work on these Broadway level shows got their start.

Bravo, Albany!

THE NEW YORK TIMES

PLAYBILL

THEATERMANIA

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AP

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SCHENECTADY GAZETTE

BUFFALO NEWS

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Another Broadway Across America Theatrical Conference ended its short, but sweet run this past Thursday night in warm (thank goodness!) and wonderful Key West, FL. This year’s conference ran from February 10-13 on the theme of “catching waves and driving change,” the aquatically inspired metaphor being that not unlike that of a surfer, theatre industry professionals must continually “experience, create and innovate” by taking risks to keep up with changing times, while also maintaining a sense of balance and tradition.

For those of you not familiar, BAA’s biennial theatre conference is where all the top presenters, producers, general managers, booking agents, and ticketing and technology experts associated with the commercial theatre industry converge for several days for panels, creative presentations, business, networking and some fun. Well…er…a lot of fun.

To kick things off, popular humorist, Mo Rocca and acclaimed director, Jack O’Brien delivered charming and meaningful keynote addresses, with Rocca describing various theatre memories from his childhood, and O’Brien instructing those on the business side of the theatre to “play” more. He reminded attendees that gathering in Key West in this relaxed and fun way was important, because despite having become very much a business, theatre has been, and always will be, first and foremost about play.

With regard to the panels, the overarching takeaway for me was about how ticket sales are “riding the wave of technology” with trends showing that more and more people are purchasing tickets through their smart phones and tablets. In order to capture those sales more effectively, the industry is reaching out to experts in digital for support, and, in some cases, bringing digital experts on to their own staffs. A small sampling of the ticketing and digital leaders who spoke on this topic included David Andrews, SVP, Shubert Ticketing, Damian Bazadona, Founder, Situation Interactive, Stan Deak, VP New Business Development, Experience, which is based in an app that allows you to upgrade your seat, or add on an experience right from your mobile device, and Julia Vander Ploeg, GM & SVP, Ticketmaster Resale, who discussed the new TM+ website.

Cast members of GETTIN' THE BAND BACK TOGETHER perform at the BAA Theatrical Conference in Key West.

Cast members of GETTIN’ THE BAND BACK TOGETHER perform at the BAA Theatrical Conference in Key West.

But the conference went way beyond panels! There were also a number of special performances, as well as exciting creative presentations of both new and established works! These included Cyndi Lauper (KINKY BOOTS), Sheryl Crow (DINER), and the lovely Jessie Mueller performed songs from the hit Broadway show, BEAUTIFUL. I was particularly enamored by the presentation of AMELIE, and will be rooting for the show as it continues in its development and journey toward Broadway. Other shows represented at the conference were GETTIN’ THE BAND BACK TOGETHER, WE FOXES, THE HEART OF ROBIN HOOD, MOTOWN THE MUSICAL and DIRTY DANCING.

The energy at the conference was inspiring, and by the close it was clear that The Road has never been stronger. It’s heartening to know how alive and well theatre remains despite all the various entertainment choices out there. And I truly believe that The Road, by bringing theatre beyond New York, Chicago and other major cities, directly and indirectly helps theatre at every level thrive all across the country. By maintaining and building new audiences, fans and supporters on The Road, theatre remains highly visible, as well as culturally and economically relevant. And no matter how technologically advanced this world gets, at the end of the day there will never be anything that could ever duplicate the kind of magical experience that only live theatre can offer.

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Closing night fireworks on the beach of the Casa Marina Hotel, Key West.

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Digital Image by Sean Locke Digital Planet Design www.digitalplanetdesign.com

Hey there, Road 101 fans! I’m back here in the blogosphere after a super busy several months during which I was completely immersed in a time-sensitive musical theatre commission, as well as deeply involved in our hectic, and, often-times dramatic New York City 2013 primary elections! For those of you who do not live in NYC, we’re in the midst of a significant change-over here, from the Mayor on down.

In addition to the work I do at BAA, I am also a member of a 501 (c)6 here in NYC called The League of Independent Theater and this election year has been crucial towards achieving our goal of helping to get candidates elected who are pro-performing arts, and who pledge to do everything in their power to help our economically and culturally vital, but ever-struggling independent theater scene throughout New York City’s five boroughs.

Being engaged in the local elections was an amazing and educational experience. Quite a few of the candidates who we endorsed won their primary races (which in the preponderance of NYC races is tantamount to being elected), and so we are excited about this being a real beginning towards sustainability, and making sure that the performing arts don’t get short shrift. I encourage everyone out there, wherever you live, to get involved during an election year. It could make all the difference to the future of the arts in your community!

LIT based its endorsements on a candidate’s willingness to commit to our 8-plank performing arts platform; if not the whole platform, then as many planks as possible. The most challenging of our planks, but one we feel is absolutely vital, asks our lawmakers to: “Implement a proposal that would reduce or eliminate property tax assessments for those non-profit organizations that have an artistic mission and/or rent performance space to similar non-profit performing arts groups with artistic missions of their own.”

Okay. Ho-hum, Whatever. What does any of this have to do with commercial theatre touring, you ask? Well, the independent theater sector in NYC is not the only sector looking for a little bit of a tax break. The Broadway League, and other stakeholders in the theatre presenting world, are currently in the midst of their own tax-credit initiative proposal that they are seeking from Albany that would incentivize touring productions and pre-Broadway productions to do their tech and initial productions in New York State. Tours have continually shown that they invigorate local economies, so it makes sense for New York State to find ways to get more productions to come and launch their tours here. Whether it was as a result of these efforts, or perhaps they saw the light on their own, Albany lawmakers via the New York State Senate’s Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee, chaired by Sen. Betty Little, (a committee that thankfully also includes my fabulous, pro-arts State Senator, Brad Hoylman) will be considering a kind of tax credit for these sorts of productions during the 2014 legislative session. Here are two articles on the topic:

‘On with the show, with tax credits’

‘Proctors CEO: Boost local economies with tax credits for touring Broadway shows

As you already know because you are someone who is “in the know,” or because you read my previous posts on the topic, Louisiana and Illinois have already implemented a tax-credit for touring productions, and Massachusetts may potentially be next. Or, maybe, my home state will beat Massachusetts to the punch. 🙂

But the point I want to leave you with is that theatre touring, and performing arts in general, is ultimately a business, whether it be commercial or non-profit, that benefits the economy, and every once in a while, it’s important that those of us who participate in the performing arts, whether as a booker, a presenter, a producer, an actor, a stage manager, a director a designer, etc., get a bit more pro-active on the political front, so our elected representatives remember that they need us, and that we’re not just all song and dance.

Don’t forget to vote November 5th!!!

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I’ve discussed live theatre tax credits on this blog on a number of occasions. Recently, I specifically posted about Boston becoming a city where this credit may go into effect if a recently introduced bill is passed into law. You can check that post out here. The theatre tax credit bill, according to The Boston Globe, was filed on January 17, 2013.

I have also posted about New Orleans, which already has a theatre tax credit in place, and which is referred to in relation to the proposed bill in Massachusetts.  You can check out my post about the theatre tax credit in New Orleans here.

My colleague, Rich Jaffe, President of Broadway in Boston, discusses the potential that this tax credit has to grow the economy in Boston, as part of this informative coverage on the topic:

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The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess

The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess

Not specifically about touring, but not a huge leap…Boston is considering legislation that would establish a tax-credit for pre-Broadway shows. This bill is just another example that proves how theatre clearly remains culturally relevant and popular in the U.S., and is also desirable as far as boosting local economies. Theatre productions put people to work, as well as bring patrons to nearby businesses such as restaurants, parking garages, and shopping. So in a macro, long-term sense, Boston will likely earn this tax credit back, and more.

In addition, while Boston is indeed a prominent cultural city and, therefore, a desirable market for commercial theatre productions, it tends to be an expensive place to produce or present, so a tax credit seems like it would definitely lure pre-Broadway shows that might consider other cities that already have similar tax credits in place, such as Illionis.

Here is an article regarding the pending tax credit legislation in Boston:

‘Legislation seeks to lure Broadway shows to Hub’

And here’s some recent coverage about the upcoming pre-Broadway run of TUCK EVERLASTING in Boston

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Broadway Across America Theatrical Conference 2012 Key West, FL

I just arrived back from Broadway Across America’s biennial theatre industry conference. This conference has been around for many years and is where all the top industry professionals involved in producing and presenting from around North America and other continents converge in a warm and inviting setting in chilly January to see what hot projects Broadway Across America has cooking, as well as other producers.

The BAA conference is always jam-packed with lively and informative panels with top people in the field. A major theme this year related to technology and how emerging programs and platforms are beginning to support the theatre industry’s foray into dynamic pricing, and also how mobile and tablet devices will most definitely be key in driving more sales and excitement around shows.

Also at the conference were entertaining glimpses of several productions that are currently in development or on the boards, and which you will likely see on Broadway, and potentially on the Road sometime in the next several years. These creative presentations included highlights from GHOST, HANDS ON A HARDBODY, FLASHDANCE, LEAP OF FAITH and ONCE, among others.

Despite the still shaky economy, the mood at the conference was bright and the outlook for the industry extremely positive. There was a great deal of excitement about the creative presentations and a warm sense of community amongst the attendees throughout the magical 3-day gathering. I was reminded once again of how fortunate I am to be in such a special field that is unlike any other.

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This is more coverage related to my previous posts about the burgeoning musical theatre industry in China. Interesting declaration at the end of the article…

‘So Far Off Broadway It’s in China’

Not sure this is in any way connected to China’s interest in importing and creating Broadway-style musicals, but it seems telling, at least to me, that there happen to be TWO prominent shows currently being produced in New York that have Chinese/American communications at the heart of their themes in David Henry Hwang’s CHINGLISH and Zayd Dohrn’s OUTSIDE PEOPLE.

Could all this be an indicator pointing to the Arts as a viable road leading towards improved diplomacy and mutual understanding between the U.S. and China?

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