Should there be an Independent Broadway Producer’s League?

These guys got me thinking.

In their podcast, they talk about how the Independent Broadway Producer is becoming a bit of an endangered species.  With the influx of corporations and movie studios and even celebrity Producers, and with fewer theaters to go around, the Independents face greater challenges.

And that reminded me of what happened in the touring market years ago.  As this guy talks about in his podcast, several years ago a group of Independent Touring Presenters (the people who bring National Tours of Broadway shows to a theater near you) saw a shift in their business, as a large corporate player started eating up a majority of the playing weeks on the road.  They found it harder to get product, and therefore harder to survive.  So to protect their interests, they banded together to form the Independent Presenter’s Network, a group now forty members/markets strong.  They didn’t “Brexit” their larger trade organization (which happens to be the Broadway League), they just formed their own subset of like-minded folks, to lobby for their concerns and interests with one voice, and make sure they didn’t disappear off the (road) map.

Since Broadway is going through something similar (although maybe even more severe), might it be time for something like this here too?  And since, as I talked about in this blog, the negotiating interests of a big corporation could be totally different than the negotiating interests of an Independent Producer (not to mention how much money each has to play with), the Independents could use some “strength in numbers” strategy to make sure their voice is heard . . . and more importantly . . . heeded.  An Independent Producers group could form marketing alliances, help produce each other’s shows, lobby for theaters for each other, and remind the entire industry that money doesn’t guarantee great art.

The Independent Producer does have great challenges in the years ahead, as Broadway continues to boom, and more and more powerful players get in our game.  We’re a competitive lot, often crossing our fingers that a fellow Producer’s show will fail just so the theater will become available for one of ours.  It might be time to put down those swords of ill-will and join forces to find a way to not only survive Broadway in the 21st century . . . but to thrive on Broadway in the 21st century.

 

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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.

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