In my hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana I am not currently a subscriber to anything but the New Yorker and cable television—not the Indianapolis Repertory Theatre, or the opera, nor baseball, basketball or football teams (the sports guys call those program season tickets). I travel extensively, have lots of outside interests and activities, friends to see, bikes to ride, rivers to kayak, television drama to watch, football on Sundays (the game looks better to me at home on the widescreen than the cheap seats at Lucas Oil Stadium).
What does this inevitably mean for my attendance at local performances? I mostly (almost always) miss them. As busy as I am, it is rare that world of mouth, social media, or other marketing efforts penetrate my narrow world to the point where I will stop, invite friends, make some plans, buy a ticket, attend a show.
What does happen though on the rare occasions when the stars align and I check out a play, a musical performance, the symphony or an opera? I enjoy myself. I learn something. I have fun. My sprit is uplifted in the way that only the performing arts can do—more than movies, tv or sports.
Recently I attended a brilliant production of “God of Carnage” that a client put on in Omaha, Nebraska, where I spend several days per month consulting to a capital campaign for a new theatre. It just so happens I am a season ticket subscriber to the organization, mostly to show support and because I dislike comp tickets—why give away what you can sell?
I’ve seen this show before, several years ago in a blistering production in Minneapolis and it was terrific. When it played Indianapolis a year or two ago I skipped it (having seen it prior). But in Omaha, as a ticket subscriber, I was compelled to attend. So I saw the show on opening night instead of watching old episodes of “Game of Thrones” on my ipad.
And it was a great entertainment – probably better than the Guthrie production. Funny, viscerally uncomfortable, shocking at times. The best parts of a great night watching live actors work their craft. Beautifully directed and designed. I am so glad I got to see it. And this is all because I am a subscriber, that I have committed myself in that small way to the company, to the future performances, to the potential for greatness.
Too often we rely on word of mouth from friends, free beverages, or extraordinary marketing to propel ourselves to buy tickets – this makes the work of our arts groups that much more difficult. We are a fickle and uninterested public much too often, and we won’t make a buying decision easily.
From time to time we need compel ourselves to the arts, to commit our time even when we might have something better to do or the show doesn’t look like our all time favorite at the time. Our organizations are counting on this. An investment up front in a year’s entertainment and the opportunity to wow us with something new, fresh, out of our comfort zone. The solution? A subscription. Buy one, or three, give them as gifts to friends this holiday season – what could be better than a year’s worth of entertainment with folks you care about?
I resolve to sign up for at least two season subscriptions this year—will you join me?