Good sweet Lord above, what a time I've had this past week. And no, I have not been a member of the mass hive mind that is SxSW. I've only been an enabler. :)
The Vortex has been hosting a number of private events, bands, happenings, poetry slams, and magic shows during this crazy time in Austin. Most of which I've booked. I'm thrilled to say that all went well!
Lessons learned from watching the madhouse:
1) Social media is your friend, whether you're an actor or an organization. But really, all those 'Likes' and RSVPs don't mean diddley. You have to engage with people in a more meaningful way if you want them on your side...or to show up to your event. I had two private parties in a row on Sunday and Monday, and one did a massive faceplant while the other was so much fun and succesful. I gathered from the people running the event that failed that they actually thought Facebook RSVPs meant that people really planned on coming. Oh, boy. Expensive mistake. I wonder if they had reached out personally to these high end donors they were trying to court would things have turned out differently? Nothing really beats a personal connection, especially when you're starting out.
2) Art trumps all! We had lots of things going on that didn't have anything to do with music or interacive. And people really turned out! I'm not saying that all the great music at SxSW isn't art (because, duh, totally) but there is the giant overall sense of, shall we say, exploitation? Greed? Circuses? That's just my PoV. I'm all about community gatherings, local artists getting together to celebrate each other and make things. I love being able to accommodate a bunch of amatuer portraitists and slam poets all in the same week. Makes me feel good and fills me up. :)
3) Magic is COOL! We had a renter in this weekends that brought a few headliner magic and juggling acts in from LA and NYC. Boy, that blew my mind! Wish I could do that. Except not really. I love the mystery. How did he pull the two live chickens out of the straight jeacket he just escaped from? Who knows? IT'S MAGIC. Being in a theatre filled with people who are so fired up and amazed is also a wonderful feeling. I get the impression sometimes that we're all just so jaded anymore, and that people don't even like to use their imaginations much. Not across the board, but in general. The energy in that room was electric, though, and I could tell that there's a lot more people from that experience that will be seeing live performance now. Happy!
On that note, I'm headed out this week to a convening in Kansas City about Audience Revolution. I can't wait to get to know more people in the theatre scene around the nation, and share knowledge about what's working in our programming and what isn't. And not just in our programming, but how we're interacting with our larger communities and the artists that live in them. I'm very excited. Except for the traveling part. I cringe to admit it, but boy I hate to fly. Argh.
See you next week!
(And here's some pics from my whirlwind week, plus a bonus adorbs shot of my nephew and his cake beard and chest hair as he turned one this weekend.)