I just touched down at George Bush International Airport in Houston, and I couldn't help but think that I am pretty sure the celebratory atmosphere that I left in DC following the election of Barack Obama probably wouldn't be the same here.
I am in town for my fourth National Arts Marketing Project Conference, where I will be presenting two sessions, leading a round-table discussion and hosting a dine-around. A packed schedule, but I like it that way. I have met so many interesting people at this conference over the years.
A highlight of this year's conference is a convening of marketing experts from major regional theaters that I have been invited to on Monday, November 10. Jim Royce, Director of Marketing, Communications and Sales at Center Theatre Group and Rodi Franco, Director of Communications at the Alley Theatre are hosting the dinner. The group includes Alan Brown (WolfBrown), Mary Trudel (Wallace Foundation), Tim Baker (Baker Richards Consulting), Bil Schroeder (South Coast Rep), Linda Garrison (Steppenwolf Theatre), Anne Trites (Yale Repertory Theatre), Kory Kelly (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Chad Peterson (Northlight), Nella Vera (CTG) and myself representing Arena Stage.
The main topic of conversation will focus on how our institutions are addressing the current economic crisis. The group has agreed to let me blog about the conversation. I must say that I am incredibly excited to be at the table with this group of folks, and I hope some interesting ideas are floated.
Just today, two major opera companies announced huge changes that were blamed on the current economy. The NY City Opera announced that it has separated ways with its incoming artistic director Gerald Mortier, and the Washington National Opera announced that it has abandoned its plans to present the Ring Cycle next year. I have also heard from my colleagues around the nation at some of the largest theaters in the country that they are preparing to make substantial changes in their season. The first out of the box seems to be Seattle Repertory Theatre.
We are all in the same boat, so hopefully we can create an agenda to address this crisis together.