5 Predictions for the Post Coronavirus World . . . and Broadway.
As a few cities around the world start to see some “leveling” of the curve (if not necessarily flattening) and as NYC approaches its apex, it’s time to start looking ahead.
While we are far from out-of-the viral woods yet (and every single effin’ person out there should be so sheltered-in-place, it should feel like you’re starring in your own one-person show), I’m getting a sense of what our world, and of course, our business, might look like in the months, years, and decades to come.
Here are five predictions for our post-Corona world:
1. We will have a Doctor as President.
We’ve had Lawyers and Generals as Presidents already, so it only makes sense that the next profession that will rise to the Commander in Chief role in the next 4-5 election cycles (20 years or so) will be a physician. We’ve already had one run recently, and expect more to come.
As Fauci and Birx have proven, physicians can lead with more honesty, transparency, and intelligence than many of our typical politicians.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR OUR INDUSTRY: The reason we’ll want a Doc behind that desk is that we’re all going to want to feel safer and more protected by the folks in charge. The “Presidents” of our industry (Theater Owners, Artistic Directors, Presenting Houses, Producers) will need to take extra steps to let our audiences know that we have THEIR safety at the top-of-our-minds. Informing audiences of cleaning policies, signage about washing hands, recommendations to NOT come to the theater if you’re ill (dare I say, a more open exchange policy?), will all be key to getting our audience to show up instead of staying home.
2. Cash is no longer king and isn’t even in the court.
About 3 years ago, I stopped exchanging money when I went to a foreign country. I just used my credit card and my apps.
One year ago, I stopped carrying cash in this country. There’s no question that paying by cash is way on its way out, but this virus will accelerate that phenomenon. We bought everything we needed during our sequestered time by credit card online, and many of our necessities came with “contactless” delivery.
Oh, and the other reason cash will slowly disappear is because cash is, well, dirty. After this is over, will you really want to put your hands on something that 1,000 other people have touched?
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR OUR INDUSTRY: Our consumers are going to want more ways to purchase their tickets via apps and online. Box office pickups and hard tickets will decrease even more than they already have. The ticketing companies who take the lead with mobile purchasing will win the day and the service fees that go along with it.
3. I’d “short” commercial real estate.
There’s nothing like mother nature forcing you to do something to prove that you can do it. And the “something” in this case is work remotely. The entire world is working from home right now, and a whole bunch of businesses (maybe even mine?) will come out of this saying, “Wait a minute, we just survived on Zoom . . . and I could save how much money if I didn’t have my office?” The Commercial Real Estate market is going to go through a major disruption as a result of Corona. The upside? Less commuting, less pollution, and yes, less chance of another virus spreading as fast as this one.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR OUR INDUSTRY: We’re not a biz that embraces tech very well, but we took a leap forward these past few weeks. (Just yesterday I saw some folks figure out how to have a Zoom call who last month were still trying to get their VCRs to stop flashing 12:00 AM!) While we’ll still be a face-to-face industry (since we require our audiences to be in a room, a lot of our business will still happen in a room), remote working will give those who embrace it an advantage.
4. Like Rock-n-Roll, live streaming is here to stay.
When I livestreamed Daddy Long Legs, I knew it would never replace what we do. But I also knew it could definitely help market it, and provide other revenue streams for Artists, Producers, Investors, and all sorts of TheaterMakers.When Broadway shut down, I got a least a dozen emails in about an hour with all sorts of livestreamin’ ideas. Obviously, we executed one of those ideas, and about a hundred other live streamin’ options popped up online right behind it.
And all these incredible initiatives won’t just disappear. But don’t worry. It won’t replace the “live” of what we do either. It will only enhance it. And this quarantine has given us a very valuable marketing tool that our audience (and our unions) will now truly embrace.
5. Oh, and yes, we are going to come back . . . in a big way.
As usual, some folks have used this crisis to signal the end of theater as we know it. While I appreciate the “drama” of those statements, those self-proclaimed pundits are just dead wrong. The theater has been around for thousands of years. It has survived all sorts of world events, from wars to the invention of the television, and yeah, even epidemics and plagues and more, oh my. We will get through this. And we will come back, bigger and better than before. Gathering together for a common purpose . . . to share an experience as a community . . . is a primal human need. And because we’re going to be so starved for it after our time in this social-distancing-desert we’ve been isolated in, we’re going to want to go to restaurants and bars and you betcha, theaters. Will it happen overnight? Probably not. People have less money right now, and that will affect attendance more than fear of catching the bug.
But just close your eyes for a second and imagine . . . imagine what that first night back in a Broadway theater is going to be like. Just imagine that ovation when the overture starts or the curtain rises. Imagine the energy.
It makes me want to buy a ticket right now. And it’ll make other people want to too.
How do you think the world is gonna change? How do you think the business is going to change? Let me know in the comments below!
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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.