You Can Bring a Blogger to the Show, But You Can’t Make ‘Em Write

Back in the beginning of February among the theatre type blogs I listed in an entry was one to the Impact Theatre web page where they were offering free tickets to people who would see a show and blog for them.

As promised, I sent an email off to them yesterday to see how successful it was for them. I got a letter back from their graphics person, Cheshire Dave, who has given me permission to excerpt the email here. Apparently, as much as people seem to want to regale the blogosphere with the inane details of their lives, no one wants to write about theatre–even with a direct appeal.

Quoth Cheshire:

I am depressed to announce that yours is the very first email I’ve gotten from that link in the six months or so that it’s been up. No joke; no exaggeration. By and large, this initiative has been a spectacular failure. Except for one case, no blogger has taken me up on it, even ones I solicited directly (some of them didn’t even get back to me, and I emailed several times). The sole exception has been SFist (, and that’s a site that I write for (I’m not the one doing the reviews). But the point of SFist is to fill a need for a regional blog, so it’s not like an individual’s blog in that regard. So really, my plan has been totally unsuccessful.

It kills me that I can’t find even one blogger who wants free tickets to theater that he or she would probably really enjoy. With bloggers more or less looked down upon by a great portion of the print establishment and not known about by even more people, it seems to me that what bloggers want is legitimacy. But when offered to them on a silver platter, they can’t be bothered. It’s really disappointing.

I did go to and typed “Impact” into the search field to see what sorta stuff was going up. There were some nice articles for their productions with the sort of disclaimers about being involved with Impact Theatre that you would hope people being paid to promote governmental initiatives would make. Its a practice to which all uncredentialed journalist types should aspire. (I try to keep the blog generally apolitical, but sometimes, the opportunity to comment is just there.)

I sent him a couple links to some of my “bloggers as the next reviewers” entries (here, here, and here) in my inquiry email. He noted though that “One thing I didn’t see in your entry about bloggers as reviewers that is a benefit to the arts organization is the opportunity for almost-instant response on the blog.”

I thought I had said that somewhere already, but it certainly bears repeating. As he noted, his theatre gets most of its review driven audiences from the free weekly paper so by the time the review appears, the show is in to its second week. With the daily papers, you are sort of at the whims of the editors. A Sunday or Friday review is great–but god help you if it appears in Monday’s paper as it is the least read of any day.

Since bloggers are typically very quick to report their impressions, finding a good one with a dedicated readership can potentially be worth his/her weight in gold–so a couple free tickets to a show ain’t nothin’ But as I noted a couple days ago, I think blogging still has to have some time to mature as a information media. Once it does, I bet you see individuals with sites like that appear well run and probably have a dedicated group of visitors.

Until then though, I encourage everyone to be like Impact and pioneer the way.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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