Let the arts grow
In times of freebies, vouchers and offers, how does one sell tickets to a locally produced show?
The year is drawing to an end, there's a chill in the air and sweatshirts are out. A festive feel pervades the atmosphere. Winter, other than happy vibes, is a time for arts, as well. It is the time when local artistes gear up to put together a jam-packed season of theatrical shows, poetry evenings, stand-up comedy nights and more. Not a single weekend goes by without a locally-produced event. It is also the time when one realises how tough it is to sell tickets to these shows. Ever tried being a producer? Then you'd agree with me when I say that putting together a show comes at a huge price. But the bigger issue is the sale of tickets.
Let's run through the scene in the city. At comedy nights, you pay a cover charge, so you technically watch comedians perform the best of their jokes, absolutely free and have a drink or a snack to recover the cover charge. The venue has gained, the audience has been entertained, the artiste has, once again, gained exposure. At writing workshops, attendees are willing to learn how to craft sentences, write poetry and more, provided it is a free-to-attend event. At theatre productions, everyone hopes to win the tickets on a radio show or secure free passes. There are bundle offers, but hey, let's be realistic. It is tough to find four, forget 10 people, to commit to watching some form of live performing art. Oh, there are early bird tickets, too, but how many can commit to such a date?
In the same city, there are offers at cinemas - buy one ticket and get one free. And then, there are Netflix and Amazon Prime, where you can watch Shashi Tharoor perform a stand-up act for you. So why pay to watch a local actor, poet or comedian?
Well, I am of the opinion that this needs to change. And my fellow artistes and I can bring about that change. As artistes, we need to stop underselling ourselves, we need to stop commercialising every art form. And as an audience, we need to learn how to identify a handmade, local production from a commercially produced film or a heavily-sponsored event.
Yes, it's a shame to perform to an almost empty hall, but it is a disgrace to perform for an audience that does not value the blood, sweat and grime that goes into creating a show. Blood, sweat and grime goes into every act, plus there is anxiety, for there are no options for re-takes.
But then again, can I afford to watch all that gets performed? No. So, I choose wisely. Also, I review wisely. If you come across a good show, spread the word. And, if you come across a bad one, say that. For, if as artistes we stop playing good critics, the arts will cease to grow.