This week's guest blog comes from David Homan who has been an advisor on ConnectorCon. In this post he makes some interesting observations about the dynamic of profitability vs. impact. Check out what he has to say below and if you get a chance check out his project too. Take it away David!
Metrics of the Arts: Dance and Music
Profitability broken down
First of all my show!
Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theatre
March 7-9, 2013 at 7:30pm
Ariel Rivka Dance and Riedel Dance Theatre, with Live Music
Tickets $25/15 at: http://rivkariedel.brownpapertickets.com/
www.arielrivkadance.com for more information
"Vashti" a collaboration between composer David Homan and choreographer Ariel Grossman/Ariel Rivka Dance interprets the Biblical story of Purim through the lens of feminism and women's empowerment. Set in Persia, before the rise of Queen Esther who helped save the Jews from the wrath of Haman, Vashti reigned as Queen of Shushan. Who was she? How did she come to have such power? Was it only because of her beauty? A myriad of interpretations exist--Vashti as a complex, strong and brave woman, or a vain, wicked and disobedient wife. Requested to dance naked for the King and his drunk friends, Vashti must make a choice; to lose everything, possibly her life or to shed her dignity. Exploring her origins and the women surrounding her, "Vashti" shows us all how to best preserve our sense of self when presented with the ultimate choice. With modern choreography that springs from a strong balletic core this work involves five dancers and live music featuring violin, cello, guitar and piano.
Sample rehearsal clips:
Now about the Metrics of this show and the arts in general:
Success is all relative in the Arts. You want to continue your work and find a healthy balance, but a healthy balance is an endless search.
I am the “composer-in-residence” for my wife’s company, Ariel Rivka Dance. Everyone finds this endearing, but I can tell you first-hand balancing a relationship where you create together, eat together, and relax (or try to) there’s often not enough time in the day. But, as an artistic couple, this is what we do. My older brother, and friends who don’t know what it means to have a dance company or write classical music ask about how profitable it is. It can’t be.
Here’s the basic math for a project like this. First what sounds good.
Alvin Ailey Theatre (one of the top 4 in NYC) for 3 nights, between 500-600 people seeing your show total, great press, and another sold-out season 6 years into our company’s existence (www.arielrivkadance.com) --and more opportunities on the horizon.
Here are the basic costs:
The cost for our part of the production (rental, PR, dancers, musicians, video, designers—costumes + lighting and stage management) are over $32,000.
We split the tickets 50/50 with our partner group, Riedel Dance Theatre, which means that even if we sell out 600 tickets total, that would be tickets priced at $105 each to break even on costs--with the split.
But who’d pay that much for dance and music in NYC? If we charge that much most of our friends can’t afford it. So with tickets at $25/15, and an average cost of $20 a ticket, with a 50/50 split, that’s $6,000 back to us max, which gives us the ability to gain back 18.75% of our investment. With a $50 price, we could get back more than double that but lose a lot of our exposure, shedding almost half our audience.
So if you aim for profitability, you fail. If you aim for exposure and creating a meaningful project that resonates with each individual, you enrich their lives in a way that, though it can be measured, can’t be paid for by conventional means.
So you don’t do it to pay everyone enough. You don’t do it to make money. You do it because it adds value to you and ideally others that--though it hasn’t been measured--obviously still plays a major role in enriching our society.
Think of it this way.
My work of music as an album would sell on Naxos for $7.99. A previous work, 9 years ago, was bought by an individual who told me recently they listen to it every day. If you monetize that as a value spent per every day, that’s an emotional investment of $26,000 in that person’s state of mind.
So when we fundraise for this project, with a goal of $25,000-$30,000 (private, indiegogo, foundation, etc) you don’t talk about profitability, you talk about the investment and the impact, as the dancers and musicians DO NOT get even close to their investment of time. And you hope to have an impact that lasts beyond the performance.
The metrics of this might seem unsolvable without winning the lottery.
Speaking of that, I’m off to buy my Powerball tickets.
Composer and Producer