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magicguy6
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Has anyone here rented a local performing arts theater to put on a show?

If so, how was it received?

What was the turnout?

Ticket Prices?

Thanks for answering.
blackandwhiteillusions
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Where are you located?
magicguy6
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Florida
blackandwhiteillusions
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I'm in orange county california, probably not much help to you. We're currently producing a show that we'll run in venues of 100-500 seats ticket prices $20-35 I'll let you know how it goes down the road when we get into performances. We're still in rehearsals and development.

I wish you the best! PM me if you have questions or need help I'm dealing with all kinds of issues from spaces to seats ticket prices marketing for a good turn out etc.

CF
Eldon
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Virden, IL
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Christopher Carter user name (Christopher Carter) has rented a theater and produced a show several times in Chicago. You might PM him.
Chezaday
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Get ready to lose money. If the theater isn't behind you with advertising you'll never fill the place. There is so much overhead to consider, printing, insurance, lighting, sound, labor and so on.

You'll need someone with deep pockets or a sponsor of some kind. I did this years ago and was lucky to break even. Each market is different but, it's difficult at best to make money this way.

Steve
Magic Patrick
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Minnesota
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Eric Paul has a great Theater Booking System program that will help you enlist the theater to use their list, Advertising helps (program, tickets, posters), and sales letters.

Just a thought. $197 for the program can help you say thousands potentially.

Patrick

Posted: Aug 27, 2009 10:06am
Also it teaches you how to get a ton of publicity.
MagicMichealMan
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I rented my local theatre last october and sold it out, of course I lost money from newspapers, posters, radio ads, but still made a good chunk. I ended up giving the money to a local charity for kids anyways.

I would recommend selling your show to the theatre, and don't e-mail or phone, walk into the office, more than one time until they buy your show. Then you don't have to worry about advertising, and costs of theatre rentals, and if it sells out or not. I am doing one like that in january.

Mike
videoman
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Quote:
On 2009-08-27 11:13, MagicMichealMan wrote:
I rented my local theatre last october and sold it out, of course I lost money from newspapers, posters, radio ads, but still made a good chunk.

Mike


I'm confused, did you lose money or make a good chunk? You state both.
Michael Baker
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The first time I did this was back in the early 80's. Rented the theater at the local fairgrounds (maybe 500 seats??). Convinced the bank to give me a 90 day loan to jump start it, too.

Planned the show with 2 other performers, and assistants, including tech crew, box office, concessions, etc. Picked the date based upon other scheduled events so as not to be in conflict with anything else that we could think of.

Designed and printed our own posters, programs and tickets. One of the people on our staff was a very good artist, and a couple of us knew how to do decent Press-type layouts (this was before personal computers).

Guerrilla marketed this thing by hanging window cards all over town, got a nice article in the newspaper, and just started talking it up. Should have arranged for pre-sales but didn't.

All in all, it was not terribly removed from a 1940's movie with Andy Hardy doing a show in the barn to save the local orphanage. Real grassroots, stuff. Ken Griffin's book was my bible at the time.

So, comes the day of the show... we all get there early in the morning to start setting up illusions, chairs, sound and lights, and everything else needed to turn an empty theather into a place about to have, "An Evening of Illusion".

We broke for lunch, and some stayed at the theater, while some went out.

Before anyone got back, we were hit with a freak snowstorm and were buried under 6" in about 2 hours. Word was coming in from those that could make it back that some of the other crew had called them saying they might not be able to get back to the theater. This was way before cell phones.

This was the first time I thought about the fact that I had a bank loan to pay back at the first of the week. I think that thought came to me in the form of a load of bricks in my shorts.

Anyway, the rest of the crew did make it back in time, some barely. We did the show with no pre-sales, and still had 125 people brave the snow, and show up.

The show went well.

Everyone had already agreed that payment would only come from profits made after expenses, and at the end of the night when the money was counted, we lost $50. My name was on the loan, so I had previously agreed to be responsible for that in the event of a loss.

I just laughed about it all, and figured that I could have never thrown a party that good for fifty bucks!

I have since had theaters and other sponsors buy the shows. In most cases money was made because of their more solid resources for advertising, etc. In other cases, I have watched them drop the ball, and lose a ton of money, even though I still got paid.
~michael baker
The Magic Company
MagicMichealMan
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Quote:
On 2009-08-27 12:27, videoman wrote:
Quote:
On 2009-08-27 11:13, MagicMichealMan wrote:
I rented my local theatre last october and sold it out, of course I lost money from newspapers, posters, radio ads, but still made a good chunk.

Mike




I'm confused, did you lose money or make a good chunk? You state both.


I lost out money, didn't make as much as I could have without the ads, but after all that said and done, I stil walked away with about $3000 which was donated to a charity.

Mike
JVHarrison
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I have produced and promoted a number of different shows and events (including a few limited-run magic shows). It's very risky business and not for the faint of heart. Anyone considering this really needs to understand the business and all possible contingencies and should be addequately capitalized. One of the smart things one can do in such a venture is to tie it to a fundraiser for a well-known organization with a large membership that will promote the show and sell tickets for a portion of the profits. I had an experience similar to the snow-out that Michael described and learned the hard way to purchase weather insurance where large amounts of money are at stake (it's quite easy to have hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake in such a venture). It's also important to have an honest budget (i.e., one that reasonably anticipates all expenses and models profitability based on various ticket sale scenarios) because there is nothing worse than incurring the effort and the risk involved in promoting a perfectly executed sell-out event that fails to make a profit.
Ray Pierce
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Michael, JV and the others have given you some great advice and feedback.

Let's start out with having a great show as the baseline. Many tend to promote and market, then end up with people showing up to a amateurishly produced event and are unhappy with the results.

Yes, it is HUGE risk but if that's what you are driven to do, then try it and prepare for any option including funding the show out of your own pocket if need be. If you can work any other way, I would recommend that first. I've seen many self produced shows and the only reason the show existed was that the performer couldn't get booked on their own. That is NOT the reason to do your own show.

The good ones who are successful usually have a strong show that came from years of touring and performing in every type of venue imaginable for others before stepping out on their own. Even with a great show the marketing can cripple the event. As JV mentioned, not having sufficient capital to promote the show is the typical reason for poor sales. In addition, you need to be in an area that will support your event.

As already mentioned, the best bet is to work with a sponsor as a fund raiser and let them sell the tickets for you. There are many good books out on this and I would suggest following them to the letter as they come from real world experience and have all the details worked out.

Good luck and let us know how it goes!
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
JVHarrison
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So as not to make this thread a "parade of horribles", I should add that, if you are successful at a venture such as the one contemplated by magicguy6, you could make a tremendous amount of money. It all comes down to risk and reward -- as the potential for substantial profit increases, so does the magnitude of a potential loss (which is why a producer commands the lion's share of the returns).
Michael Baker
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Quote:
On 2009-08-27 16:57, Ray Pierce wrote:
Let's start out with having a great show as the baseline. Many tend to promote and market, then end up with people showing up to a amateurishly produced event and are unhappy with the results.


This is beyond true. You wouldn't open a vegetable stand if you didn't have good, fresh vegetables. It's only logical. I've been fortunate enough to work with talented, dedicated, and very professional people. There was never a problem delivering a show that matched the ticket prices, regardless of what stage in our careers we were.

It really matters if you plan to do a continued run, or possibly an annual event. Anyone can get lucky enough to get an SRO crowd the first show, based on hype alone. The key is to build your crowd and reputation from there.

I am aware of one guy who rented a theater, and only a handful of friends showed up, literally what you could count on one hand. Believe it or not, the manager of this small theater felt sorry for the guy and didn't stick him for the rental fee. That's probably not going to happen to most shows if they tank.

As mentioned above, working with a sponsor is a great way to lift a huge burden off your shoulders. It basically cuts your workload down to a fraction of what it would otherwise be, allowing you to focus on what you do best (hopefully performing Smile ). Civic groups usually have the manpower and resources to get the job done very effectively. In most cases, tickets almost sell themselves once the public understands who is backing the show, and for what purpose. The good part is, as a performer you get paid. As a consultant, you probably get paid extra. You won't make the huge take that could otherwise be yours if all risks (and work) was on your head, but you get a decent paycheck and probably a few more hours sleep each day. No shame in that.

I was fortunate enough to work with the Jaycees in one town, and I was to deliver a variety show. I was fortunate enough to have a talent pool that was capable of really entertaining on a professional level, and a really wide variety of family-friendly entertainment, as well.

Once word got out on this (thanks to the hard work of the Jaycees), ticket sales exceeded expectations, and a day or so before the event, they approached me to see if we could do a second show the same day. We had to calibrate the performing roster a bit, such as putting one performer near the opening of the first show and near the end of the second show, so he'd have time to leave and do another booked show in between. It worked fine and we ended up making even more money than originally contracted. Not a bad day at all!
~michael baker
The Magic Company
magicguy6
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You guys are awesome. Thanks for the great advice. What is the best way to approach a sponsor?
IDOTRIX
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I heard Jeff Dunham played for one person once upon a time.
magicians
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Contact Dan stapleton in Florida, he has done this several times in Orlando. Three other magic groups are doing something in Orlando as well.
I rent the Villages once a year for a 6 magician Illusion show.

My club is doing a 50/50 split with a boat club Oct 25th, 5 magicians performing.
Illusionist, Illusionist consulting, product development, stage consultant, seasoned performer for over 35 years. Specializing in original effects. Highly opinionated, usually correct, and not afraid of jealous critics. I've been a puppet, a pirate, a pawn and a King. Free lance gynecologist.
CCPCris
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One thing you might wanna try is this. Find a small dinner theatre that does not charge a rental fee but splits the gate (shares ticket sales, usualy 70 percent or so to you and the rest to the theatre). Somme dinner theatres can seat up to 300 people. I know that's not alot, but that will give you good crowd to build up your act. Do a few shows there untill you fine hone your act.
making the unreal, real...really!
chmara
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First -- you must be detail oriented not just in magic performance -- but in marketing. YOU must follow up with publicity, making sure ads are appropriate and appear == posters posted in restaurants, dry cleaners, etc. You might HIRE staff to do this -- but in many many cases if you depend on theater, local volunteers or even sponsors to do this heavy before show stuff -- you will be sadly disappointed.

John Kaplan in his systems recommends REGULAR follow-up if a sponsor is committed -- and a schedule sheet for what must happen when.

Now our SAM here in Tucson tends to take the 650 seat local theater used for drama (about $700 a night plus staff for tech and house) and fill it twice during august with our annual show at $15 a ticket. But the committee works their bippy off making sure publicity, posters and ticket sales are out. About 50 total tickets are given to local charity at no cost -- and in past years our lecture fund (reason for the show) receives about $10,000 from those two shows in late August. The show has been annual for the last 25 years.

Some years ago several of us booked the Sierra Vista Community Center and agreed to split the proceeds with the High School Band (Sponsor) and were told they would fill the 1000 seat house. BUT we did not supply the publicity beyond a few press releases, photos and posters -- because they wanted to handle it. Big mistake! We got a house of 200 -- mostly parents of the 100 person marching band.

In a similar time period a single magician show appeared in DOUGLAS Arizona (not exactly the navel of the universe) and had the local sponsors jacked up real well -- selling corporate support for programs, buying blocks of tickets to give away for kids, etc. The show in a 700 person seat auditorium was sold out -- and the estimated take was about $2000 for the magician. He had one full time person who did publicity and ticket sales WITH the sponsor -- and handled BOR sales (net about $500) -- and shared that he only worked small towns with a 500+ theater in a high school or community center.....

I have also experienced another approach -- renting or sponsored event in restaurants with a cabaret approach.
Gregg (C. H. Mara) Chmara

Commercial Operations, LLC

Tucson, AZ



C. H. Mara Illusion & Psychic Entertainments
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