Fix The Tix Coalition Makes Bold Demands To End Exploitative Ticketing Practices

A little over a month ago, I wrote about the newly formed Fix the Tix coalition which is urging the US Congress to pass legislation to protect ticket buyers from exploitative ticket pricing/manipulation, ticketing scams, and use of bots to purchase high demand tickets.

Last week they released the details of what they are pushing Congress to enact. It is pretty much everything ticket buyers and venue operators have been praying for.

In addition to restrictions on just plain gouging, the plan calls for the end of speculative ticket selling by requiring sellers to legally have physical or virtual ownership of tickets.

● require that resellers and ticket resale platforms legally obtain each ticket and have each ticket in possession, virtually or physically, prior to placing it on sale.
● require that the ticket resale platform has written proof that a reseller possesses a ticket to sell.

Similarly, they ask that attempts to make a ticketing site masquerade as official outlet of a venue be made illegal.

● make illegal the use of deceptive URLs, search engine optimization, or advertising that improves the visibility of secondary sites over primary sales platforms and makes fans believe they are buying tickets from the venue or artist.
● require secondary ticketing resellers and platforms to clearly and conspicuously disclose:
○ a notice that it is not the primary ticket issuer and venue;
○ that a ticket may still be available from the primary ticket seller and link back to the primary ticket seller;
○ the original face value and fees of each ticket; and
○ a certification that the event ticket offered for sale is in the possession of the reseller or secondary ticketing platform.

Note, I haven’t listed everything they are asking to occur in each of these situations. Check out the full document for more info.

As you might imagine, they are also insisting on full transparency for fees up front during the purchasing experience.

In terms of privacy and safety, they are asking the secondary market sellers be required to provide venues with the contact info of ticket purchasers so they can be reached in case of emergency or rescheduling. But they also insist that secondary market buyer information be protected and not used for sales and marketing without purchaser permission.

As mentioned, Fix the Tix also want to prevent tickets from being snatched up by bots and to ensure secondary ticket sales are made at or near face value on a one on one basis rather than by corporations to individuals:

● ensure that artists, working with venues, determine how to get tickets into the hands of actual fans.
● prohibit companies that operate both primary and secondary ticketing platforms from forcing tickets sold for more than face value to only be resold on their platforms.
● encourage ticketing platforms to operate exclusive, no-fee, fan-to-fan exchanges of tickets as long as they are not exchanged on those exclusive platforms for more than the face value (or the original total cost) of the ticket.
● prohibit companies that are primary sellers and secondary resellers from offering secondary resales on the same web page or display where the primary seller also offers tickets for primary sale.

More Prescribing Arts To Cure You

Artsjournal linked to a piece in a University of Florida journal about a program the university is piloting in the hopes of eventually rolling out a national program of prescribing arts to solve mental and physical ills. I have written about similar programs before where doctors prescribe arts and nature to patients.  My biggest issue is that instead of proactively working to change society and culture to emphasize taking care of yourself mentally and physically or normalizing participation in creative activities, the approach of these programs is to essentially prescribe carving out time to relax and take up enjoyable activities.

The article even alludes to the fact that medical care is associated with a degree of unpleasantness in the US.  Many people feel some wariness about arts experiences so making it a medical cure can compound a sense of alienation.

“Our health care system doesn’t have a structure that enables people to engage in things that are enjoyable and support their health. We’re acculturated toward taking medicine,” Sonke says. “If your doctor says, ‘I think you need to take a pottery class or a dance class, to get out and be more social and more creative,’ is that going to feel like you’re not being taken seriously?”

Even the name presents an issue.

“Social prescribing as a term works in the U.K., because social care is a concept that everyone understands. In the U.S., social services are highly stigmatized and highly politicized, so that language is problematic,” Sonke says.

The only upside I see from the description of this initiative is that it is intentionally disassociated with medical facilities and personnel.

Social prescribing differs from arts in medicine in a few key ways. Instead of bringing arts into a health care setting, it aims to infuse social and cultural activities into daily life. Second, the activities are led by artists and community-based organizations, not health care workers or therapists. Third, while clinical treatments are intended to serve their purpose, then end, social and creative arts involvement can continue after medical intervention concludes.

When a health care provider identifies a patient who could benefit from social and cultural engagement, they refer them to a “link worker” whose role is to match them with an activity in their community, Sonke explains. And while it’s not meant to replace medical intervention, it gives primary-care providers more ways to help patients who aren’t thriving.

Creative activities shouldn’t be in a position of being an option of last resort for your health and well-being. The first time people are encouraged to visit a museum shouldn’t be after suffering years of sleepless nights, mounting anxiety, and heart palpitations.

Art Or Advertising? And The Lost Context Of A Summary

Another entry in the “What is art” debate– A bakery owner in NH allowed students to paint a mural on his building. Because the mural depicted a sun rising over mountains made of donuts and muffins, last June the town said it was in violation of the sign ordinance restricting the size of advertisements. If the mountains had looked like mountains instead of baked goods, it would have been considered art, but because they were products sold by the business, the mural is considered an advertisement.

This caused a considerable amount of discussion in the town and apparently increased attendance at Zoning and Planning board meetings, but ultimately residents voted against a proposed change that would have provided clearer rules to allow for works of art.

An organization is submitting a federal case on behalf of the bakery which is leveraging the situation to fundraise for the local high school art department.

Since fighting for the right to display what Mr. Young maintains is a mural, Leavitt’s has become an advocate for the arts. The bakery recently began selling T-shirts with the mural on the front above the words “this is art,” and the Leavitt’s sign on the back with, “this is a sign.” Proceeds benefit the Kennett High School art department. And with the help of a local philanthropist, Leavitt’s is co-sponsoring a scholarship for one student a year from Kennett High who wants to pursue the arts.

“I’m not taking it down because it’s the kids’ artwork,” Mr. Young says.

The article has pictures of the mural and the tshirts. A number of the people interviewed for the story seemed pretty supportive of the mural, including a couple local government officials who appeared to have wanted to proposed change to pass in order to provide for greater clarity. While some people were concerned about murals going up willy-nilly and the appearance of billboards, it is pretty clear the bakery mural is not meant to be a sales advertisement. There are no words at all on that part of the building, nor are any figures beckoning people in.

As an aside, I noticed as I was re-reading the article that there is a feature that allows you to toggle between a Quick Read and Deep Read, with the latter indicating it make take 6 minutes to read the longer content. I think that must be how long it takes a computer to read it aloud, because that seems pretty long. I am not quite sure what to think about this feature. While folks do seem to have a shorter attention span and providing a shorter option may encourage people to engage with the topic, it also seems to suggest there is content that isn’t important to know and can be safely omitted.

Reading the abridged version of the article changes the tone of the article. The full article seems sympathetic toward the cause of the mural, the abridged version seems to suggest anarchy will break out in the absence of local self-governance.


The Pause To Refresh Employment Models

Earlier this month, the Albany Times-Union reported that there won’t be much theatre occurring at the storied Willamstown Theatre Festival.  The reason is based on the staff walkouts and subsequent investigative reporting by the LA Times I wrote about back in 2021.

Recognizing there are many issues to address in addition to the complaints of exploitative overworking of staff and interns and unsafe working conditions, the Festival is planning on presenting different performing artists, staging readings and cabaret performances and partnering with neighbors this summer.

The reason for the absence of theater at the Williamstown Theatre Festival amounts to what is essentially a public atonement for how the festival treated interns, apprentices and other staff for decades and a commitment to finding a new model for producing a season of world-class summer theater, the company’s artistic leader said.


In Williamstown, the theater festival launches in mid-July with four performances over three days by the stand-up comic Hasan Minhaj, followed by weeks of cabarets, staged readings and workshops by artists-in-residence. Williamstown alum and Tony Award winner Laura Benanti will perform a concert, well-regarded stage and screen actors will participate in readings by known and upcoming playwrights, and the festival will contribute financial and artistic resources to assisting its neighbors at Barrington Stage on a revival in Pittsfield of “A New Brain,” a 1998 musical by BSC’s longtime associate artist William Finn (“Falsettos,” “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”).

Near the end of the article, writer Steve Barnes wonders if the festival can continue in the same vein as they have historically operated if they have to pay a large swath of previously unpaid interns given waning philanthropy and diminishing audiences. The festival for their part says they will be working to create a stronger relationship with audiences:

In another symbolic choice, most audiences this summer will join performers on the stage. Minhaj and Benanti will do their shows for crowds in regular theater seats, but for staged readings there will be rows of seating on three sides of the stage, and tables, chairs and drink service will accommodate onstage cabaret patrons.

Gersten said she hopes the new perspective for audiences will make an impact on them. “It was important this summer for me that people share our point of view, that they’re on the same level with the artists as we work toward these changes,” she said.