They Are Having More Fun In The Movie Screening Next Door

Recently I have been seeing articles heralding the Taylor Swift and Beyonce concert movies as the recipe for financial success for struggling movie theaters—turn movie attendance into an event.

Except that those articles might have gotten ahead of themselves because attendees of those events are expressing disappointment about their experiences. Essentially, its a matter of FOMO – fear of missing out- colliding with the one thing performance venues have been heralding as the biggest benefit of live events over recordings —every experience is different.

As a recent Slate article stated, the grass seemed greener at the screening the next theater over.  Some attendees to the Taylor Swift Eras tour concert screening felt other people were having a rowdier experience than they were. Others felt like their screening was way too rowdy and they couldn’t hear Taylor.  There were inevitable articles and social media posts about proper movie attendance etiquette.

Some of this hype came from Swift herself—when she announced the concert film in August, her social media statement included the line, “Eras attire, friendship bracelets, singing and dancing encouraged.” At real tour dates, fans have taken to dressing up and exchanging hand-beaded friendship bracelets, as well as vigorously singing and dancing along to the music, so Swift was setting the tone for the movie’s rollout, telling fans that they should feel free to pretend they were attending the genuine article.


But not everyone was happy about these situations: Some of the videos depicting fans having semi-religious experiences at the movie were accompanied by posts like this one, where a user complained, “I’m at the worst screening ever cant even hear taylor :)”


A writer for the A.V. Club shared of her moviegoing experience, “[S]eeing all those weeping fans onscreen in a silent, mostly empty theater with not even an AMC-branded friendship bracelet in sight rang especially hollow.” But she went through the grass-is-greener phenomenon in real time, going on to write, “While no one was in costume in my theater, I did take a pee break halfway through, which revealed an entirely different crowd from an earlier screening that had just let out.” The other audience had “more pink, more rhinestones, more souvenir popcorn buckets, and at least two limited edition folklore cardigans, so the vibe might have been totally different.”

Among the suggestions floated in the article were akin to the practice of scheduling accessible or sensory friendly shows. In this case there would be a choice between quiet and raucous.

Symphony Was Heading Into Trouble, But Apparently No One Told The Musicians

I have been reading about the closure of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in Ontario, Canada and some of the stories are pretty heartbreaking. The concertmaster was in a moving van driving from Montreal to start with the symphony when she received word on September 16 that the 2023-2024 season was cancelled. A few days later, the organization declared bankruptcy.

One thing that caught my eye was a quote from one of the percussionists:

“No one saw it coming — I think that’s pretty clear,” adds percussionist Ron Brown, who had been looking forward to his 50th year with the symphony.

“We were told this just a few hours before the season actually started. The word I use is ‘blindsided.’ ”

I read that to mean, no one had been communicating with the musicians because as you read further in the article, it is clear that plenty of people knew the organization was in trouble. The board chair is quoted as saying the symphony had 8,000 subscribers pre-pandemic and now only had 2,000. She is also quoted acknowledging the operational environment for performing arts in North America and orchestras in particular.

It was clear the board knew they were in trouble and that donors felt the organization needed to be restructured, but it doesn’t sound like anyone told the musicians about where things stood:

“We had gone into the line of credit, which was established to support the orchestra, because we were bankrupt,” said Smith-Spencer before the boom came down.

“We had no money in the bank. We were continuing to have conversations with our federal representatives about a grant request, and our five local MPs were not able to get any clarity. We were counting on that money to allow us to essentially start up the season and move forward.”

Desperate, they approached the same donors who had bailed them out in the past, hoping for a last-minute reprieve.

“I will be very blunt,” says Smith-Spencer.

“These are people who care deeply: past board chairs, people who have contributed so much in the past, people who were even part of the ‘Save Our Symphony’ campaign 17 years ago.

“But they had all come to the conclusion that the orchestra, as it is currently structured, is not viable.”

Another article said management just negotiated a 3% salary increase with the musicians in August which makes me wonder if management was engaging in wishful thinking about being able to raise enough money or weren’t accurately projecting costs.

In any case, in the course of negotiations the musicians should have been made aware of the financial status of the symphony. The possibility of the season being cancelled at the very least shouldn’t have blindsided the musicians, but in two different news articles different musicians state they never saw this coming.

Stuff You Don’t Think About – Relation Between Insurance And Ability To Hang Art

Lately I have been seeing articles in The Guardian that are calling attention to overlooked aspects of creative practice that have big impacts if conditions start to change. A couple weeks ago it was the impact the dwindling number of piano tuners and technicians can have on the ability to present live performance. More recently, I saw an article about how changes in policies by Australian insurer, QBE, may limit and prohibit visual artists from painting murals and even hanging art in galleries.

This is a subject you don’t normally think about in relation to creative practice, but it seems pretty obvious that artists probably want to be protected from injury when they climb into a scissor lift or scale scaffolding.  I don’t know anything about Australian law so there may be stricter requirements to have the insurance than residents in other countries may imagine.

The article notes that in the last decade that the  National Association for the Visual Arts has been providing the policies through the insurer QBE, there haven’t been any public liability claims related to working at heights.

QBE will no longer cover artists working at heights of more than five metres, and those working at lower heights face extra premiums of up to $600 per annum.

The carve-outs would effectively prevent artists doing public art and mural projects or installing their own work in galleries, according to Penelope Benton from the National Association for the Visual Arts (Nava).


The carve-outs would also affect professional art installers, and emerging artists and curators, who generally install their own work.

I would be interested to know if anyone sees the possibility of a similar situation emerging in their country.

Strip Club Dancers Return To Work With Actors’ Equity Representation

Last September I made a post about strippers working at a club in Los Angeles who were approaching Actors’ Equity Association to help them unionize their workplace. Today I saw on that they had indeed held a successful unionization vote under the auspices of Equity last May (NPR story).

While the setting of the strike may add a salacious air to the story, the basic details of the effort are pretty common across all unionization fights. The dancers forming the union were contesting their categorization as contractors rather then employees, seeking better working conditions, and better assurances of their safety and security. There were lock outs, picketing, suits contesting the dancers’ right to form a union.

It appears they don’t have a contract yet, but the dancers returned to work at the end of August in a gesture of mutual trust based on physical improvements that had been made during renovations as well as changes in policy and practice.

Actors’ Equity suggests that the legal rulings that lead to this may set a precedent for other workers in the beauty and entertainment industries to be categorized as employees rather than contractors.