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Like many performing arts venues, you’re probably pulling your hair out right about now because it’s time to start putting together your season’s play bills.

No need to stress out, follow these 5 tips and you will have a bullet proof play bill publishing schedule.

  1. Content due date. This is going to be your date that all the content for the play bill from all parts of your organization are due. Not everyone will get you their content to you on time, and that is ok. The key to this is that they at least get you something, so that you can start production on time.
  1. Start production date. The content that you received or started to receive can now start to be dropped into the layout. The purpose of getting at least some content on the content due date is because during this phase you will start to see exactly what still needs to come and then nudge that person with some friendly reminder emails for the rest of it.
  1. Sales close date. When everyone knows the sales close date, your production will go a lot smoother. Sure there will be one or two more sales that will inevitably come in after this date, but you need to strive to have 99% of your sales canvas wrapped up by the sales close date, otherwise your layout and design will continue to shift all the way up to your final to print date and kill your play bill publishing budget.
  1. Final to print date. Your final to print date is your absolute deadline that you need to have your files to your printer to make sure you get your play bills on time. This is a hard date, and everyone needs to know this throughout your organization, otherwise you will run the risk of not getting your play bill’s in time for the performance.
  1. Use the date of your performance to drive all of your deadline dates. Starting with the date of your performance(s) you can back up into all your deadline dates by simply knowing the number of days certain tasks will take. For example, by working closely with your play bill printer you will be able to know the date they will need your working files to give them enough time to print, bind and ship your play bill. Here at Onstage, we work within 7 business days with our printers. So this means, working backwards, that whatever our pub date is (the actual date the play bill’s need to be in hand) we back up 7 business days to get to our next date.

Putting all of these dates into a Google doc and sharing it with the key people involved will make your publishing life a lot easier and let you concentrate on the more important stuff—selling out the house! Good selling.