How to think like a performing arts presenter? More importantly, what are they thinking about as they consider which direction to take their programming season year after year?
This is the first in a series exploring how to think like the people who book your act. I’ll explore here performing arts presenters, then in the weeks to come I’ll also share how to think like a club booker, an elementary school programmer, college activities buyers and festival artistic directors.
This entire process requires you to set aside your own goals for a bit and focus your attention on the needs, concerns and goals of the potential venue presenters with whom you want to work.
As you imagine swapping places with that person, you might begin to see what they see, worry about what concerns them. Here are just a few items on their list to demonstrate how to think like a performing arts presenter and what influences their booking decisions:
How To Think Like A Performing Arts Presenter:
- First and foremost is budget and funding sources. With constant cuts and threats of cuts to federally funded programs for the arts and then cuts from statewide funding to arts councils or provincial arts councils, presenters need to know that there is money to carry out any program they plan. They need to know they can pay staff as well as pay the artists they book.
- Next, they must take into consideration the various membership programs they have. If they run season subscriber series, they need to consider who those people are and the kinds of programs that will entice them to renew their subscriptions. Donors will fall into this category as well and consideration is given to their preferences based on past history of donor amounts.
- The community factors into their planning as they consider any community outreach or educational programming they continue annually or begin. Most of these types of programs are sponsorship opportunities for local businesses, so this gets thrown into the mix.
- Building a viable programming season also takes into account when major tours are coming through the area. Some of these included touring companies of Broadway productions, symphonies and operas. These often get locked into the calendar early on providing a framework for the season to be built around. These programs also claim a majority of the funding available but have the greatest chance for sell-out opportunities.
- The presenter may also plan on seasonal specialty programs for major holidays or calendar breaks in the school year. These may be of particular interest to you if you present a holiday-specific program.
- Finally, the remainder of their season will be filled with artistic presentations the presenter feels is suitable for their audience, fits the remainder of their budget and has some chance of providing them with income growth opportunities—ticket sales.
- When traveling to booking conferences and presenter networking events, there are hot-button issues that concern other presenting organizations regionally and nationally that are discussed and solutions sought. Presenters collaborate and consider booking acts collectively creating block-booking opportunities at these conferences. Can you discover some of these issues and be part of the solution by attending these conferences?
Know this information. Research as much as possible about the venue, the community and the presenter as you are able. Then, you may begin to piece together a booking pitch, if you feel you fit into the programming needs of the presenter.
Framing your pitch can make or break your chances for consideration. I would encourage you to look at your act, your performance and your program potential. What do you have to offer this presenter that may help them overcome some of their concerns? How can you frame your proposal to book your act in such a way, that it solves some of their problems instead of simply filling your calendar?
Ask questions about their goals and aspirations for their upcoming season. Ask how previous season programs were received by their audience and would they repeat similar programs in the future. Discover as much about them first, then, take some time to see how you can be a solution to their problems. When you learn how to think like a performing arts presenter you will stand out from the crowd. You will become a valued artist under consideration for their programming. You will have a window into their mind and can much more easily present your act as a possible fulfillment of their goals while also meeting your own touring goals.
Do you think like a performing arts presenter? Have you considered any of the things above that concern them as you book your tours?
Leave me a comment below or on the Performingbiz Success Strategies Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/PerformingbizSuccessStrategies.
I can’t wait to hear about your success.
Thanks to Carol Ehrlich for this week’s Biz Booster graphic image, “How To Think Like a Performing Arts Presenter.”
Now, Thanks to the Band Curfew from the UK for providing the Biz Booster theme Music, Future Dance. Check them out at www.curfew.co.uk
And for more career boosting tips, articles, books, resources, tele-seminars and online courses, visit me at Performingbiz.com