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COVID-19 brought the performing arts sector to its collective knees. Rather than experiencing a highly anticipated 20/21 season we all planned, we felt the impact of a virus that shuttered our theaters, isolated our audiences and strangled the talents of millions of performers worldwide.

Next to the tourism sector, the cultural and creative sectors were the most damaged by the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s been a long road for so many artists, organizations, and the audiences who support them. 

Finally, as 2020 drew to a close, the advent and distribution of new vaccines gave us a light at the end of the tunnel. A light so bright that many international superstars like England’s Sir Elton John, Canada’s pop king Justin Bieber and South Africa’s sensational rap-rave fusion performers Die Antwoord are booking live shows to start mid-year stateside. 

This is terrific news for the performers, stage crews and administrative experts that make the performing arts happen. And it’s great news for audiences, too. Everyone is eager to socialize and enjoy performing arts in 21/22!

The pandemic has taught us some new habits, though, and audiences will be reluctant to break them.

Audiences & The Arts: Behaviors We’ll See in 21/22

Even come a time of widespread vaccinations and potential herd immunity, your patrons will have COVID-19 safety habits well-ingrained.

Plainly put, social habits have changed. A casual handshake or hug in the lobby during a matinée in 2019 will be awkwardly avoided by reluctant parties in 21/22. And the formal baise-main — the kissing of a lady’s hand at a formal gathering, a tradition nearly lost in the US anyhow — is likely gone forever.

Come the 21/22 season, attendees are likely to be hyper-aware of health issues and closely aware of hand hygiene. 

What are savvy organizations doing to prepare for this unusual season, you ask?

Changes Coming to Performing Arts Marketing for 21/22

Digital marketing and digital program books will be hotter than ever this season, but some long-time arts patrons will always prefer a hard copy they can cherish as a memento. As the season plays out and things normalize further, a tangible program book will again become a big part of the overall audience experience.

This puts marketers in a tight spot. Budgets are FAR tighter than usual post-pandemic. How can they afford both digital media and print program books on a bare-bones budget? Especially when smaller runs can equal higher cost-per-copy.

How Arts Marketers can Plan for the 21/22 Season

Every performing arts organization — and every venue they call home — will have a different approach this year. Most arts marketers will face a balancing act between budget, reach, and the benefits of targeted advertising that comes from association with the arts.

While this piece isn’t meant to be a sales pitch, Onstage’s Arts Marketer’s 21-22 Season Restart Program could be part of the answer. We are combining both limited-run prints with digital for a low monthly rate of $295.00/mo. We hope you’ll consider this as an affordable opportunity to find both the digital and print products you need during the comeback. 

Ultimately, it’s going to be a time of creativity and invention in our sector, and the team at Onstage looks forward to hearing about all the creative solutions you implement this year. Please keep us informed of your creative ideas for social distanced seating, online broadcasts, and any other new concepts that crop up thanks to the pandemic.

Our Role

Our goal is to free-up performing arts organizations and marketers from the hassle of selling advertising and publishing program books. So we brought economies of scale to the program book publication process. Our coordinators, production artists, and professional sales staff can publish high-end program books for performing arts organizations cheaper and more efficiently than any organization across the country.

But the best part for arts marketers is that we pay our clients to let us do the work! How about that ray of hope in a post-pandemic year!

Over the decades, we’ve refined our process and grown with technology. Today, we offer a custom web portal for our clients. And we’ve learned a thing or two about audience engagement (check out more of our blogs to see what we know). We’ve added digital resources like online program books, free digital signage in your performance space and unique new audience interaction features.

In closing, we leave you with these words penned by Shakespeare, Act 4, Scene 1, of Much Ado About Nothing. While taken a bit out of context here (Leonato was speaking about revenge), we find them entirely appropriate for this day. 

Time hath not yet so dried this blood of mine,

Nor age so eat up my invention,

Nor fortune made such havoc of my means,

Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,

But they shall find awaked in such a kind

Both strength of limb and policy of mind

Remember, although our industry was hit hard by the pandemic, we are not without friends, leaders, and legions of patrons who are ready to take part in the 21/22 season. We’re in this together!

Aside from writing about publishing performing arts program books in some of the most unique and exquisite places in the U.S., you may have also noticed a recurring theme throughout our Amazing Venues blog series: a focus on community involvement and youth enrichment among our performing arts venues. We’ve said it before: Who knows where we’ll find the next Pavarotti? He or she may be attending a public school in an urban jungle. We don’t know! That’s why it’s so important to expose our children to the performing arts and provide them opportunities for musical growth.

But what comes next? How can the next generation of performance artists make the leap from high school to mainstage?

The Palm Beach Opera (PBO) has the answer! PBO goes beyond the standard student exposure with affordable children’s concerts and free high school presentations. PBO provides three pathways for an aspiring artist to graduate from student to performer. These three programs bridge the gap between aspiring performing artists and actual performing artists.

Future Artist Training at Palm Beach Opera 

The Palm Beach Opera Studio

Per their website “the [PBO] Studio is an eight-month training program that fosters the skills high school students will need to pursue a successful music career in college and beyond. The Studio program is rigorous, the learning experience is exceptional, and participants are held to high professional standards.” PBO Studio offers two distinct learning paths for high schoolers:

  • The Performing Arts Administration Track: Future board members, managers, and CEOs take part in one-on-one meetings with PBO Directors and Managers to learn how a professional performing arts company functions from the inside. Students complete projects relevant to their interests and are welcome to attend working rehearsals and mainstage performances. They’ll learn about finances
  • The Performer Track: for future opera singers, classical-style vocalists, or any future singer looking to enhance skills and begin a resume. PBO Studio’s Performance Track singers will take part in private instruction, masterclasses, vocal coaching and workshops led by the professionals. Participants are welcome to attend working rehearsals, mainstage performances, and are offered genuine performance opportunities in front of an elite audience.

After completing this rigorous instruction, PBO offers two more tiers for aspiring youths to develop their skills as artists and staff, and to build their professional resumes.

The Bailey Apprentice Artist Program 

The Cornelia T. Bailey Apprentice Artist Program offers real-life performance experience for recent music-school graduates. The Bailey Apprentice Artists are truly PBO’s community ambassadors. They’ll perform all over the region in community engagement concerts, cover supporting roles, study the leading roles in famous opera productions, and add their fresh vocal strength and youthful glow to mainstage choruses.

The Benenson Young Artist Program 

The Benenson Young Artist Program creates the final stepping stone for these young artists to launch a successful career as a performing artist. The Benenson Young Artists will spend a five-month residency at PBO polishing essential stagecraft and putting the final finish on their performance skills.

PBO’s experienced administrative and artistic staff, together with their distinguished visiting guests from around the globe, will provide aspiring artists with career insights and artistic instruction. These future opera superstars are offered supporting roles in mainstage productions, cover coveted leading roles, and perform at special events in the Palm Beach community.

Reach the Unreachable

Here at Onstage, our role is to provide the finest program books available to the performing arts industry. We are thrilled to be part of the professional development of opera’s future stars (and the staff who support them.) As you can see from this focus on The Palm Beach Opera, as well as our other performing arts partners, Onstage can get your business in front of a hyper-focused, hard to reach demographic that other forms of advertising simply cannot reach. We call it reaching the unreachable. We also provide digital signage in lobbies and halls and offer a unique, direct mail product for opera fans as well as all other performing arts genres. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our unique performing arts advertising opportunities.

At Onstage Publications we create high-end program books for luxury performance artists and their venues. In our ongoing blog series dedicated to these amazing people and places, we turn our eyes to Billings, Montana.

Join the Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale (BSO & C) live at the Lincoln Center in Billings, MT for their historic 69th season! The Lincoln Center is not the usual home of BSO & C, but a temporary change of home isn’t enough to set back these professionals!

Per music director Anne Harrigan “This year [they] will present one of the most exciting seasons in the history of the orchestra as [they] start the ramp-up to the reopening of the Alberta Bair Theater.”

The 2019-2020 Fall / Winter Season Highlights

With tremendous variety in performance art ranging from Gershwin to Stravinsky, and from Celtic to West Side Story, this year’s BSO & C programs are certain to excite the imagination of Billings’ diverse audience.

We are especially excited to hear about the Celtic Christmas concert on December 21, 2019. “Back by popular demand, award-winning Jeremy Kittel, Billings’ favorite fiddler, violinist, and Celtic-influenced composer, is bringing some friends to celebrate the Holiday season.”

More visiting Irish-style artists include guitarist Quinn Bachand; Cillian Vallely, the uilleann pipes and low whistle player and traditional Irish dancing performers.

But beyond their delightful variety of programs, we admire BSO & C most for their community enrichment programs.

Community Involvement

The BSO & C is a community jewel in Billings. Their “Explore Music!” programs are known to reach into the ears and hearts of children, adults and senior citizens every year. While the entire list of their programs is far too extensive to list here, some of our favorite community events include:

For Families

  • The Annual Family Concert: Free tickets make this event family-friendly! Every year it is the same evening as Adventures in Music day (below).
  • Adventures in Music Day:(AiM) offers everyone the chance to try their hand playing various symphony instruments. They also get to hear the BSO&C musicians play and meet them in person!
  • Symphony in the Park:(SiP) is a chance for the Billings community to enjoy some symphony under that big blue Montana sky! There is family fun for everyone, including concessions and an “instrument petting zoo” so everyone can get hands-on with the performance.

For Our Elders

  • The Senior Series: Takes place at seniors memory care facilities, retirement homes and assisted living facilities all over Billings.

For the Youth

  • Musicians in the Community: Per the SPO & C website “musicians use music to begin an open dialogue with students about symphonic music to those attending after school programs. The Boys and Girls Club of Yellowstone County, the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch, and Friendship House are just a few after school programs the BSO&C visits each year.”
  • Musicians in Schools: Billings area students grades K-12 and local college students learn about instruments, and discuss music as a vocation with the musicians.

Onstage Publications For Artists, Fans, and Advertisers

At Onstage Publications our role is to design and publish stunning program books that will be cherished by performance arts fans all around the United States. For performance artists, we attempt to capture their personal artistic flair and bring that to the audience with a tangible book they can enjoy for years.

For our advertisers, we go beyond the traditional program books by offering digital signage at venues and Artspac, our direct mail performing arts newsletter. If you’d like to learn more about a program book for your own performance art group or venue, or learn about advertising directly in Billings and beyond, contact us today!

Related Reading & Resources:

Onstage Publications Program Book: The Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale 2019-2020

Billings Gazette: Lincoln Center Has Shaped Education in Billings for 130 Years

Rather than a single venue, we decided to honor The Virginia Symphony Orchestra (VSO) and several venues they play in the Hampton Roads Region.

The VSO is performing its 99th season this fall, 2019! Congratulations!

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra: They’re All About Community

The VSO is a regional treasure in the Hampton Roads area. We love them because the Symphony does a ton of local community outreach work and supports musical education in Virginia. This year they will enhance the musical learning experience of more than 25,000 students in 11 different school districts.

But their efforts aren’t limited to reaching the young. This year they’ll be serving their Virginia community elders with a “Generations in Unison” initiative, performing specifically to enhance the lives of the elderly and those affected with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

We also love the fact that they offer free concerts for the community. Sometimes the public is welcome to join in! For instance, every September the VSO hosts a free “Comm-UNITY Play-In and Sing-Along”, with music for all levels of performers and singers to join.

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Conductors

JoAnn Falletta

According to the VSO website “JoAnn Falletta is internationally celebrated as a vibrant ambassador for music, an inspiring artistic leader, and a champion of American symphonic music…she has been praised by The Washington Post as having ‘Toscanini’s tight control over ensemble, Walter’s affectionate balancing of inner voices, Stokowski’s gutsy showmanship, and a controlled frenzy worthy of Bernstein.’

She has guest conducted over a hundred orchestras, many in the United States but also in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. It is under her direction that the VSO has been able to enter a multinational recording agreement; performing classics, pops and family concert series in Williamsburg, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Newport News.

Maestro Falletta is serving her final year with VSO, who is currently searching for her successor. No one has yet been announced as her replacement.

Chorusmaster/Staff Conductor

Robert Shoup

This is Shoup’s 22nd season as Chorus Master and Staff Conductor at VSI. Shoup’s choruses have been called “enthralling” and “completely mesmerizing.”  Per the VSO “His national and international conducting credits include the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra, ensembles from the Prague Radio Orchestra and Czech State Philharmonic, and numerous choral ensembles.”

The Venues:

Previously our blogs focused on the details and history of specific venues. But the VSO seems to perform everywhere in their region. And we love them for it! Below is a list of their various venues, and you can see their full concert schedule here.

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra will be performing at these locations for the 2019 – 2020 fall/winter season:

Norfolk

  • Chrysler Hall
  • Harrison Opera House

Virginia Beach 

  • Sandler Center for the Performing Arts
  • Regent University

Williamsburg

  • Crosswalk Community Church
  • Phi Beta Kappa Hall (at the College of William & Mary)
  • Saint Bede Catholic Church
  • Jamestown High School

Newport News

  • First Baptist Church
  • Ferguson Center for the Arts

At Onstage Publications our business centers around luxury program books. Illustrious organizations like the VSO do more than perform classical music. They reach into communities and uplift their neighbors. We are proud to create excellent opportunities for our advertisers to get their name in front of this broad audience, via program books at all of these venues, over and over again for an entire season.

If you’d like to hear more about program book advertising in the Hampton Roads Region with VSO contact us today!

Related Reading & Resources:

Virginiasymphony.org

Virginia Symphony Orchestra 2019-2020 Program Book

Virginia Symphony Orchestra 2018-2019 Program Book Ed 1

Virginia Symphony Orchestra 2018-2019 Program Book Ed 2

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