There has been an ongoing debate about whether simulcast performances from the Metropolitan Opera or London’s National Theatre will serve to erode audiences for live performances. According to research over the last few years, the answer isn’t entirely clear.
I have been thinking in the last couple weeks that one event I wouldn’t mind having the opportunity to live stream is the proceedings of BroadwayCon. The first Con a couple weeks ago seemed to exceed expectations despite the snowstorm that hit NYC.
The fact that so many people traveled great distances to meet each other, dress as their favorite characters and pick up new skills indicates there is potential to serve the large number of people who can’t make it. A live stream or two from the major speakers and panel events would allow groups across the country to organize their own local convention around the main convention schedule.
Sure, regional conventions like those organized for gaming, comics, anime, etc could be hosted independently around the country to tap into the enthusiasm a different times of the year. However, a live stream from the NYC Con (or other significant Con that subsequently pops up) could help provide performing arts entities in smaller communities that aren’t going to be able to attract celebrity guests an opportunity to organize people in their area.
This sort of event might serve to get people into their venue in the first place and create an energetic and friendly environment to introduce people to live theater. When major events aren’t being broadcast, workshops, panels, meetups, costume contests and such can be conducted where the rabid fans and the relatively uninitiated could mix together without a high intimidation factor. (Though debates over the correct shade of green to accurately depict Elphaba pose their own challenges.)
The biggest question would be the cost of streaming. I think it would be in the best interest of the BroadwayCon organizers to keep it low. Even if they lost money on streaming the event, they would likely be stoking the desire attend in person in people across the country.
For those who are tired of NYC and Broadway being held up as the be all and end all of theater in the country, I am completely with you there.
But my thought is that if you have a horde of people in your venue, some of which have never been there, and you are having classes in costume construction, giving tours of your fly gallery, holding acting classes and hosting karaoke sing alongs, not only have you found a way to fulfill your mission but they have new incentive to come back in the future.
That is, of course, dependent on you providing events and activities that are appropriate to their interests. It can’t be exciting times once a year and then a return to a situation that has little resonance with that same demographic the other 51 weeks. (Or other 11 months of the year in the case of Black History month programming.)
After a month or so when the dust settles, I was considering dropping the BroadwayCon organizers a line to see if they might entertain this idea. Anyone have any thoughts or ideas on the matter?
One of the first things that popped in my mind given the weather this year was whether there would be a way to avoid paying for the stream if snow forced you to cancel your local branch of the convention.