Australia’s Last Poet Laureate Was A Convict?

Big news out of Australia where the first national arts policy since 2013 was announced.  In addition to commitments of funding to specific entities and organizations, arguably the most significant element of the policy is a commitment  “….to protect First Nations knowledge and cultural expressions, with a particular brief on cracking down on fake art that plagues the $250m-a-year Australian Indigenous art market.”

Other elements of the plan include the establishment of a poet laureate position which last existed during the country’s convict era,  a state of the arts report to be issued every three years, and the establishment of  “a quota for expenditure on Australian content by multinational streaming platforms such as Netflix and Stan..” The amount of this quota is rumored to be about 20% and The Guardian article quotes people who are concerned streaming platforms may pull out of the country if they are required to produce Australia based content.

It happens that I saw a piece on Vice last night before I saw The Guardian article. Vice asked Australian artists what they thought about the plan.  Many felt the money was going to the usual suspects and advocated for a universal basic income plan for artists.

Others felt that the arts were unfunded in proportion to their footprint:

“The arts sector will get $286M over four years, or $72M a year. The fossil fuel industry gets $11.6B a year in government subsidies. Australia’s arts sector employs about six times as many people as the fossil fuel sector.

The requirement for locally generated content was cause for hope for some:

“I started to lose hope in local content knowing that reality TV filled up much of our “Australian” quota on broadcast networks. The possibility of streaming services now being made to spend 20% of their budget on original, local content honestly makes me feel hopeful and excited to pursue my career on my home turf.”

Less Attendees=Increased Satisfaction

Last week when I was writing about the ticketing trends being forecast for the coming year, I accidentally omitted an additional point from the article I found pretty interesting.  Apparently, during the pandemic, many attractions like  zoos, aquariums, museums and theme parks found that customer satisfaction increased when capacity restrictions were in place.

“Guests readily adapted to new procedures, which does not surprise us because it is consistent with what we have seen in our practice for many years,” Digonex’s Loewen says. “[Operators] also realized some of the business benefits. For example, when you limit the number of folks that can get into the attraction at a certain point of time, they saw all their guest satisfaction scores go up, and many of them saw all of their other per-cap revenues grow significantly. When it is less crowded, when people are having a better time, when they are feeling better about their visit, they tend to spend more on food and beverage and at the gift shop and on ride tickets.”

There have already been signs of these trends. Disney has apparently indicated they won’t go back to pre-pandemic attendance numbers. Similarly, the Louvre Museum is reducing admissions from 45,000/day to 30,000/day ““in order to facilitate a comfortable visit and ensure optimal working conditions for museum staff…”

Some US National Parks are requiring timed entry reservations from April 1-October 31.

So there is a good possibility other entities may start to use restricted admission as a customer satisfaction strategy in coming years. For some there may be a benefit to positioning their organization as an alternative activity for those who can’t gain admission to such places.

Why You Are Streaming Broadway Shows Produced In London

I have been following Diep Tran on social media for years so I got a minor thrill when she announced she was named editor-in-chief of Playbill last October.  Last week she posted an explainer about why it is so difficult to stream Broadway shows resulting in most content on Broadway HD being filmed in London.

A lot of it has to do with the upfront costs. It isn’t easy or cheap to create a high quality recording of a Broadway show. Tran reports that the production of Hamilton paid close to $10 million to record the show and then sat on it for years until Disney+ offered $75 million to stream it. Most productions aren’t so successful as Hamilton that they were able to front that amount and then wait for a good offer.

Contributing to those costs is the fact that unlike film productions, theatrical productions involve people who are members of dozens of disparate unions with whom a streaming contract has to be negotiated. Tran notes that during the pandemic Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA created a contract that allows livestreaming of productions, but the number of streamed views is tied to the live attendance of the production. Other than that, there are no standard contracts associated with recording or livestreaming a production so every negotiation of terms basically starts from scratch.

So while it may be easiest to assume its the producers wanting you to see the show live that limits streaming, there are actually many more people either invested or contributing to that situation.

All this is much easier in England as Tran writes:

But wait, you might be asking, the National Theatre in London has figured out how to stream its shows, why can’t Broadway producers? Well for one, the National Theatre receives subsidies from the UK government, which helps fund their livestreams. And union rules in the UK are different than the U.S., and the payout for residuals is much less for U.K. productions.

I suspect, however, that there may be increasing pressure toward a standard set of terms that will enable US based shows to be more easily streamed in coming years. I wouldn’t be surprised to find this being accomplished by moving shows out of NYC to places with robust production resources, but fewer unions involved.

APAP’S Conference Takeaways

Last week I mentioned some of my experiences at the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) conference.  The conference recently sent out a list of 10 takeaways for their own. The vast majority of them are focused on topics of striving for healthier work environments and practices with the goal of alleviating stress and unhealthy expectations of oneself and others.  That is probably a good indication about where things generally stand with arts organizations and practitioners across the country.

APAP cites a session panelist who reported:

Ryan George of Tour Health Research Initiative shared statistics from a 2019 study from the Journal of Psychiatric Research, “34% of touring professionals reported suffering from clinical levels of depression, five times higher than the regular population. 27% reported clinical levels of anxiety. Only 8% reported attending weekly therapy, and 73% attended no therapy at all. 83% reported feeling overworked or some degree of burnout. 26% reported serious suicide ideation, six and a half times more than the regular population….

The takeaway list also mentioned the ongoing effort to more formally track compensation practices among presenting organizations. There had been some crowdsourced efforts in the past where people were self-reporting data into shared spreadsheets. But that was limited by the fact that you needed to know about the effort and receive a link to the spreadsheet.

They provided information about the effort with a link to submit a request to join the next phase of the survey:

In fall 2022, APAP with AMS Analytics launched a pilot of a first-of-its-kind, industry-specific initiative and tool that will gather comparative compensation and demographic data in the field. The session “A Look at Industry Pay: Piloting the APAP Arts Compensation Project” gave an overview for the project, data from the 67 presenting organizations that participated in the pilot study, and an invitation to join the next phase of the survey.

These are only two of the ten takeaways. You can find the others here.