Thursday, April 30, 2009

What next?

Swine Flu, please, I understand Joe Biden told everybody to stay home this morning. Thanks Joe. Certainly I don’t want anybody getting swine flu, but really the economy, sub zero temperatures for days on end and now this. Inevitably someone is going to call me and ask what effect the Swine Flu is having on Chicago Theatre. Get ready for a survey. That’s it for the rant.

In a couple of weeks we are going to have the results of our Online Ticketing Market Research Survey. We surveyed patrons in theatres and the Hot Tix buyers list. Some of the preliminary findings are very interesting and not what we think. The survey was completed by Slover-Linnet and funded by The Chicago Community Trust. More to come soon.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Methinks thou hast verily the most bewitchingest of promotions

A couple of great ideas have come to my attention in the past few days. Chicago Shakes takes the cake with their Talk Like Shakespeare Day promotion. Brilliant and engaging, they are reaching out to their community in a whole new way, celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday, using twitter, a website and lots of other internet-y doodads and getting a ton of press out of the deal.

Chicago Opera Theater did a vote for next season’s opera contest (The People’s Opera), in which patrons paid one dollar per vote and voted for one of three choices. With a matching grant from an anonymous donor, they raised $47,000 last year and are running it again this year. I was at their show the other night and people were lining up to vote. What a great idea, it gets people engaged in what operas are under consideration, gives them a way in to donate without feeling like they need to give a lot of dough, and it’s fun.

Post some promotions you think worked really well.

Until the morrow,


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Earth Day

By Ben Thiem, Director of Member Services

This upcoming Wednesday, April 22 is Earth Day. The mission of Earth Day is to broaden and diversify the environmental movement worldwide, and to mobilize it as the most effective vehicle for promoting a healthy, sustainable environment. In support of Earth Day check out this list of 50 Things You Can Do To Be a Greener Theater, courtesy of and think of what you can do to make a difference at your theater. Is there anything not on the list? What else can we do to be more environmentally friendly and leave less of an imprint?

See what is going on around the world for Earth Day
For a lot of interesting articles and ideas on Green Theater check out

Food for Thought AND a Personal Story

I heard on the radio this morning that JP Morgan Chase is going to post a profit for the last quarter of 2.1 billion and that they and Goldman Sachs want to repay the TARP money given to them (apparently it’s more complicated than “hey, here’s your money back”). Good news I think. Also, the number of people applying for unemployment compensation dropped. Could be that there is a light, I hope so and I know you all do too.

I’m wondering if anyone has been working on any strategies or if you have an idea that could make your company stronger the next time this happens, and it will happen again people, it always does. My dad sold investments for a living as did his brother, his dad and his grandfather. He and my mom are retired now and they live off of their investments. He is the only person I know who HAS NEVER MENTIONED the economic crisis unless someone else brings it up. When someone else does mention it, he says the most maddening things like “what goes up must come down,” and “buy low, sell high,” and “what do you want to know honey?” Uncommunicative though he is, bottom line is this, HE DOESN’T CARE, HE PLANNED FOR THIS. His father weathered the depression in that business, my dad weathered every other economic downturn of the last century in that business. With the greatest of equanimity he will tell you that it will come back, that it always has and it always will.

It’s so hard, it’s hard getting to the next show never mind planning for the next economic crisis, but I hope I come out of this having learned something about what I do and I hope we all do. Here’s to things possibly? maybe? looking up soon…


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cultural Data Project

OK – this is the greatest thing. I heard about it a few years ago and thought it would never really come true, but then I heard it was in place in Pennsylvania and I was hearing good things about it and THEN, I heard it was coming to Illinois and NOW it is. What it does is simply this: it provides a data collection system. But…WE will be able to use the data. We will be able to compare our data against other organizations of the same size or different size or geographic location or whatever. Things like salary averages, average ticket prices, annual budget, all sorts of information. Of course, the information will not be attributed to a particular organization (i.e. you will compare yourself with other theatres with budgets of between $250,000 and $500,000, as an example, not against a particular theatre). We will also be able to benchmark our own progress over the years. Now here’s the really cool part, a lot of funders are on board with this and what will happen is that we will put the information in to this system once and then we will only have to click a button to generate a financial report for that particular funder. Uh-huh, no more rearranging the budgets to fit the particular funders needs for a report. Uh-huh click a button, that’s right. The data project WILL DO IT FOR US. The folks in Pennsylvania love it. I don’t want to oversell it but really, it sounds awesome. More in next week’s broadcast about the roll out.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

World Theatre Day Recap

World Theatre Day reminded me why I LOVE CHICAGO THEATRE. People from all over the world uploaded to the tumbler feed and the blog, especially great were the numerous “Neo-Futurists Presents” videos, if you haven’t seen them, check them out, hilarious. The party at the Chopin was seriously fun. Hundreds of people showed up and it was just beautiful to see all these Chicago theatre artists and there was so much good will and pride in what we do and if you missed it I really feel bad for you. Jess Hutchinson and Nick Keenan rounded up a bunch of folks to volunteer their time and their talents and really made it collaborative and spirited and, I’ll say it again fun. Lela and Zygmunt at Chopin Theatre were our gracious hosts. I was so proud to be a part of it and of this community.

I look forward to next year, but in the meantime I hope we find other ways to come together as a community and celebrate ourselves.