Monday, November 26, 2007

OOB in the Press?

It's thanksgiving as i write this, and i just read this again:
i can't for the life of me figure out why mainstream journalists in New York seem so almost-stubborn in their refusal to acknowledge Off-Off-Broadway.
In the midst of this strike, with media struggling to advise tourists and would-be Broadway audiences of alternatives to the closed theatres, some of these guys can't bear to bring themselves to utter "Off-Off-Broadway". I mean, seriously, isn't that an odd sort of selective blindness? Do they honestly believe OOB doesn't hold a legitimate place in the artistic landscape of this city and country?
Especially now, when Broadway tickets can cost literally $450. No one can afford that. Big companies with expense accounts can, and very rich tourists can. Outside of that there is only a tiny fraction of people who can and will afford that, and if that's what Broadway is choosing as its target market now, then why would the rest of us even care?
There is a better alternative for human beings who want to see live theatre.
Off-Off-Broadway. Affordable Theatre.
Maybe we should start marketing it that way.
You can even think about it as "local and organic" if you want. No out-of-town tryouts, no artificial ingredients or helicopters. But the bottom line is
1) you're going to sit close enough to actually see the actors' facial expressions (unlike the last 4 broadway shows i saw).
2) you're going to experience the show in a more intimate environment - usually less than 100 other people
3) you're likely to see real creative exploration, risk-taking and experimentation
4) you're likely to see real innovation (BlessedUnrest's recent show featured the most innovative use of a plastic tarp i've ever seen. absolute theatrical magic from a $30 prop/set piece)
5) you're ticket will cost less than a day's pay
Here, for about 20 bucks you can see something that just might change your life. It's shameful that our press refuses to step it up and properly cover this amazingly vibrant and critical theatre.
Is there something else we should be doing to "merit" their attention?

Nick Micozzi

Executive Director

New York IT Awards

Sunday, November 11, 2007

101 Ways to Promote the Arts

Hey all I know this is cheating a bit, as I'm going to post an article written by someone else, but it is so invaluable to the OOB/Indie world, I think this is a great place for it. Additionally, on Wednesday I'm recording a Podcast with Martin Denton about Publicity, I'll let you know when it is airing...stay tuned.

101 Ways to Promote the Arts:
Compiled by the Arts & Business Council of Miami

When looking at the suggestions on this list, consider your Target customers. Try
to see things through the Target customer's point-of-view. Will they respond well
to this particular type of promotion? Is the type of Promotion likely to reach the
customers your organization is trying to capture? Do you have facts to back up
your assumptions?

1. Develop relationship with neighborhood shops
2. Point of purchase displays to sell tickets
3. Hand out postcards and fliers in neighborhood
4. Opening Night Sponsorship with local business
5. Tie-ins to other events
6. Perform at halftime at a sports event - Hand out information before and
7. Live radio broadcasts at programs in return for free media ads
8. Statement stuffers in local banks, stores, etc.
9. Contests for children to win free tickets
10. Grocery bag printing about event
11. Newsletter
12. Print restaurant trays with info about event
13. Posters
14. Holiday decorations display or sale at December performances and
15. Speak at a local Rotary or Kiwanis club
16. Local business provides all the ushers for a performance as a corporate
17. Media co-sponsorships
18. Endorsements or ads by celebrities
19. Target specific groups. Example: Women, Families
20. Fliers in chamber newsletters
21. Special campus promotions to sell tickets
22. Give away the Front Row as Radio Promotion
23. Opening Night Reception with the Artists
24. Meet the Artist events
25. Restaurant, show, limo packages for patrons
26. Special hand out nights - Example: Fang giveaway for Dracula
27. Slides at local movie theatres
28. Special extras for season subscribers
29. Family promotions at matinees - Example: Tea party with the dancers
for Nutcracker
30. Behind the scenes events and promotions
31. Costumed courier to hand out information
32. Mall exhibits and ticket giveaways
33. Fashion show themed around program - Example: a swimsuit show for
South Pacific
34. Videos of performance highlights
35. Local weather remotes - broadcast live from your site, cast sings "You
Are My Sunshine"
36. Celebrity or VIP Ushers
37. Discounts for specific groups
38. Special Offer mailings to Target audience
39. Benefit tie-ins - food drive during opening night
40. Co-host performance and reception with charity
41. Broadcast e-mail about upcoming events
42. Website with performance and ticket specials
43. Balloon drop with free tickets in some balloons
44. Neighborhood store theme Window Displays
45. Beverage company tie-ins - xyz wine night with free samples, wine
company advertises event
46. Win a Dinner Date with the star or an artist
47. Singles performance with reception
48. Pre-show demonstrations
49. Place postcards about upcoming events in shops and restaurants in the
50. Video streaming on website to showcase
51. Patron buttons or cards to receive special gifts
52. Scavenger Hunts
53. Neighborhood Restaurant Bill Promotion - a flier for your event is
presented with each bill
54. Related visual art display in the lobby
55. Photo contest
56. E-mail newsletter
57. E-mail invitation with special discount
58. Trio Discounts - buy three shows get one free
59. Collective ads with neighborhood groups
60. Annual event tie ins
61. Senior citizen programs and discounts
62. Bounce back ads on back of tickets
63. Perform at malls - hand out information
64. Perform at festivals - hand out information
65. Radio promotions with free tickets
66. Nursing home appearances by artists
67. Children's hospital appearance by artists
68. Easter egg hunt with spring shows - some eggs have free tickets
69. Focus group brunch
70. Costumed characters at business event
71. Arts Talk
72. Gallery walk with collective ads
73. Arts Night in the Neighborhood
74. Bring Your Neighbor promotion
75. Door hanging invitations
76. Ads in church and temple bulletins
77. Audience Surveys
78. Test Drive Promotion - Car dealer gives free tickets to your performance
to anyone who tests drive a specific car - dealer pays for tickets and
advertises event in their test drive ads
79. Postcards, fliers at related performances
80. Trade ads with related arts groups
81. Niche advertising
82. Customer Appreciation programs
83. Lobby promotions with local business
84. Concierge - Dinner reservations in the lobby
85. TV public service announcements
86. Cable television tie-ins
87. Giving tree in the lobby
88. Performance/event on Arts Council website
89. Performance/event on visitors bureau website
90. Condo group sales promotion
91. Perform at local condos - sell tickets
92. Event/performance featured in sponsors ads
93. In-house business Promotion to sell tickets
94. Listing in Arts Connection newsletter
95. Listings in free social and community websites
96. Calendar listings - be creative
97. Supervised children's area for parents
98. Tell A Friend campaigns
99. Perform at libraries
100. Tickets to hotels/concierges
101. Shuttle buses to event from hotels/condos


As always you can contact me with questions!
Katie Rosin
Publicist New York IT Awards

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tom O’Horgan has left the city.

If you are involved in the theatre, you have probably heard the name Tom O'Horgan. He was the original creator and director of Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar, two productions that revolutionized the modern American musical.

Mr. O'Horgan achieved what many artists aspire to -- he had created something unique, something that was truly an expression of himself. His vision excited people in the general public and became a cultural phenomenon. He achieved both critical and commercial success. Yet he never rested on those laurels. He continually returned to his roots, to explore and experiment, striving to find new ways to communicate with his audience. He never simply accepted the traditionally agreed upon terms of the theatre. He would place actors in the audience or bring audience members to participate on stage, stage productions in apartment buildings or on fire escapes. He pushed the boundaries of our society, experimenting with gender identity and tackling subjects such as racism and sexism in the 1960's. I think it is because of this drive to always invent something new and interesting that he never because a cliché.

I first met Tom at a symposium that was hosted by the IT Awards in 2004. Many of the founders of the Off-Off-Broadway movement attended. Even though Tom was not in the best of health, he climbed the flight of stairs to the second story of the Drama Book Shop. He proudly sat amongst his peers, many of whom he hadn't seen in 35 or 40 years. He clasped hands with old friends, reminisced and laughed with former colleagues, patiently obliged autograph seekers and posed for photos with admiring young artists who where giddy with the prospect of meeting a living legend.

In 2005, the IT Awards held our first annual awards ceremony. We were presenting the Stewardship Award (for service and leadership to the Off-Off-Broadway community) to Ellen Stewart, LaMaMa herself. Tom was very instrumental in forging the fledgling LaMaMa and when asked who she'd like to present her with the award, Ellen said, Tom O'Horgan. I didn't get to see Tom much that night. I was in producer mode and he was in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease and public appearances were draining. However I did manage to have my photo taken with him.

The following winter Marc Cohn, Tom's assistant and friend, and I worked together on an application for the honorary IT Awards. Marc mailed me Tom's CV which was over 150 pages. I work with doctors - not just doctors, academic doctors - whose CVs are quite extensive and include everything they've ever done. You are considered to be very accomplished if your CV is 30 pages. Looking through Tom's CV was much like looking at Elvis' room of gold records. You have an entirely different appreciation for his achievements. Tom was the only director in history to have 4 Broadway productions running simultaneously: Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Lenny and Inner City. I understood Marc's frustration is trying to sum up Tom's accomplishments in a mere 2 or 3 pages. There was certainly not enough room to give a complete accounting of Tom's contributions, but we did our best.

In September of 2006, Ben Vereen, star of Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar presented Tom with the Artistic Achievement Award. Ben spoke for over 10 minutes about his longtime friend calling him a genius and visionary. Tom was met with a vigorous standing ovation. When the audience finally took their seats, he leaned over the podium and simply said, "I'm in love with this whole game."

In October of 2007, I started to hear the rumors that Tom would be leaving the city and selling his property to help pay for living and medical expenses. Tom's apartment is a huge artists loft complete with music room and stage. All of the walls, floor to ceiling, are lined with musical instruments, art, masks, books, show posters and many other items all of which have sentimental value to Tom. When looking at the collection you feel like a child, excited to try the various instruments or hear the stories of the Hopi Indian doll or the Balinese mask.

On Saturday, November 3rd, 2007 Patrick and I got up early and arrived at the loft to help Marc organize and prepare for the sale. At 10am, invited guests showed up and began to search through the piles of books and stacks of drums. At 11am the general public began to pour in. From noon until 4pm was a blur. There were so many people asking so many questions. Some people were excited by the fact that they could own a musical instrument that belonged to a Broadway star. Others had no idea who Tom O'Horgan was but saw people exiting the building with the most interesting items and despite the $25 entrance fee, they just had to check it out for themselves. By 5pm there was only a small group of Tom's closest cohorts that just couldn't tear themselves away. They stockpiled trinkets and chimes and spent thousands of dollars just to have some mementos their beloved friend. They cried and hugged and agreed to meet for dinner.

There were some truly amazing and wonderful things that people bought, but I think that Patrick and I took home the coolest thing of the entire sale. We are now the very proud owners of the giant silver mask from the original Jesus Christ Superstar. For a mere $300 we purchased a piece of theatre history and one that has personal meaning and sentimental value for us both.

I feel so blessed to have had the chance to get to know Tom on a personal level. Although I don't think he remembers me or any of the time we spent together.

Tom is being cared for by friends in Sarasota, Florida temporarily until a home is completed near the Tom O'Horgan Theatre in New Mexico. There he will be surrounded by his most cherished items and will receive the medical care and attention that he needs.

Even though I know that Tom will be well looked after by Marc and his wife, I am saddened that there was no health insurance or support system to care for this man, this truly remarkable artist.

Shay Gines

New York IT Awards

Executive Director

Thursday, November 1, 2007

RIP Bouwerie Lane Theatre 1963 – 2007

The Bouwerie Lane Theatre: Designed one hundred years ago by Henry Engelbert, this cast iron building is a rare example of the French Second Empire style, and is an historic landmark. The building was home to the German Exchange Bank, then later housed the Bond Street Savings Bank. The space was converted into a theater in 1963. The old vault still exists in the basement and the box office window was one of the original teller windows.

A theater since 1963, and from 1974 – 2007 was the home of the Jean Cocteau Repertory, a leading Off-Broadway company dedicated to the classics.

It was purchased in June of this year by "Self-Storage King" Adam Goldman for a reported $15 million dollars. He plans to reside in the top floor and lease out below to "respectable" retailers.

Bouwerie Lane's production history.

NYC architecture

Neighborhood development

Lost City