BroadwayCon Industry Day is back—and it’s a must-attend event.
Now in its third consecutive year, Industry Day, curated by Situation Interactive, is a crucial crash course in the Broadway business of today for seasoned veterans and those who aspire to work on the business side of show. “The next generation of leaders in the industry” from TEDxBroadway Young Professionals alumni to university students to generations-long theatre owners “needs to be engaged in the conversation today,” says Situation Founder and CEO Damian Bazadona.
“We hope to have every aspect of the industry represented, whether you work onstage or off, write musicals or reviews, cast shows or create cast albums,” Bazadona continues. “The more perspectives we have in the room, the better.” And Bazadona reinforces that you don’t have to work in (or aspire to) Broadway by name; non-commercial, regional, school professionals are all encouraged to attend.
What Bazadona and Situation have done so expertly in the past, is educate professionals on the changes that affect Broadway’s ability to attract theatregoers and ticket buyers and retain those audiences. Industry Day 3.0 further focuses on the fans.
It’s why Industry Day 2020 programming has moved to the first day of the overall Con, January 24—instead of a day before as in years past. “This grounds our discussions about the industry-fan relationship in a setting where you can actually walk outside and feel the energy of the incredible fans who come to BroadwayCon,” says Bazadona. To understand the fans is to better market to those fans, leading to a healthier theatrical industry.
“We’re committed to discussions about the state of the fan experience and exploring new and innovative ways to improve the connection between the industry and its fans,” Bazadona continues. Which is why the programming for the half-day conference (9 AM–1 PM) focuses on strategies professionals can practically implement as well as new data to instigate intra– and inter-office discussions. The four hours outside the office that morning will prove invaluable to pros at all levels and in all roles in today’s environment of constant change.
Six 30-minute panels (“to keep the day fast-moving,” says Bazadona) will be split by a 15-minute intermission. These discussions include: Culture Clash, how digital technology impacts cultural institutions; The Evolving Role of Critics in Theatre, featuring The New York Times’ Jesse Green, and Vulture’s Helen Shaw; New Stories = New Audiences, a conversation with producer Kevin McCollum about nurturing fresh stories to build new audiences; Advertising’s Role in Audience Development, a panel about consumer-messaging; Creativity, Environment & the Fan, respecting talent and process in a behind-the-scenes-hungry world; and The Future of Storytelling, about changing media landscapes and technology.
Bazadona dug into further detail on the panels for the day and what he hopes industry individuals will learn in our Q&A below:
What change do you hope to spark with a panel like Culture Clash?
Damian Bazadona: We have an amazing guest in Dr. Kirsty Sedgman, and I’m looking forward to learning from her research and insights on changing consumer behavior and its impact on theatre norms. Conversations about our audience’s relationships to digital technologies and our shows have only increased in recent years and I love the idea of the industry collectively grappling with those topics.
Critics and theatre journalists sit in a strange limbo; we’re not the creators of theatre, but we’re not just fans, and we’re also not “business” people. Why was it important to you to include critics in the day?
Critics sit in a unique place at the intersection of the relationship between theatre-makers and fans. It was important to us to include them because they bring a valuable point of view to industry discussions, which is informed by their knowledge of theatre history, audience interests, and cultural trends. We think Industry Day is an exciting opportunity for these critics [Jesse and Helen], who are some of the most prominent voices in the theatre community, to discuss the industry that shapes the content they get to review.
The day addresses New Material with Kevin McCollum and then shifts immediately to Audience Development with advertising professionals. How do you hope these two panels complement each other?
We hope that almost all of our discussions will touch on how we can invite new audiences into the Broadway community, but these two conversations will really focus on that head on. They’ll be looking at how to bring more people into our world, through the lenses of different jobs within the industry. Kevin has an amazing track record of championing emerging voices and bringing exciting new work to the stage that speaks to both existing theatre fans and new audiences. While he’ll be talking about his approach to finding and developing new works, our advertising panel will be having a conversation about how they spread the word about new works once they are Broadway-bound. The advertising panel is made up of professionals who have worked in this space for a long time and bring their individual experiences to the table every day to create campaigns that reach out to people around the world and encourage them to come to Broadway.
What is your take on the future of storytelling?
Variety is the spice of life and so are the stories we consume. I think the future of storytelling is inclusive, immersive, and, overall, exciting. As you’ll see by listening to the folks on our Future of Storytelling Panel, the opportunities ahead of us are limitless, and there is no one medium or approach that is better than the others. Part of the reason I’m so passionate about audience development is that I believe we are living in an exciting time when there are more channels opening up than ever before for people to share their stories and find an audience for them. It’s all about being open-minded and pushing boundaries while learning from our storytelling traditions, like theatre, that have stood up to the test of time. The more ways that we try to share our stories, the more people we can hope to impact with them.
If you could only pick one takeaway for attendees, what would it be?
The Broadway industry needs to care about its fans. While Broadway is definitely a business, we want anyone who walks through the doors of a theatre, or listens to a cast album, or follows a show on social to have a great experience. Almost anyone who ends up working in this industry gets here because, once upon a time, they themselves became a passionate theatre fan. When we can get everyone in a room together and remind ourselves of that fact, while sharing the things we’ve learned by working in the industry, we will be making progress towards happier fans and a healthier industry.