Friday, June 29, 2007

Broadway Tip-Toes into the 21st Century

Got this press release in the mail yesterday and -- surprise! -- I think the idea is very smart, if a long time overdue. I'm including the contact names and numbers at the top of the release in case anyone is feeling a little bit of real journalism coming in. I'm also including it because, a long time ago, I worked for Susan Lee, back when she was running her Leonine Entertainment. That was the company that developed Camp Broadway. Susan always thinks "big" and has a flawless sense of business, marketing and vision.

Of course, I should say this: Great, now the industry might have a model for rewards points for repeat customers. What is being done to lower ticket prices? Or is this program really a fig leaf for the continued abuse of the American consumer desiring to see legitimate theatre?

Susan Lee, Chief Marketing Officer, Nederlander
212.840.5577 x124 /
Bill Coyle / 917-279-6044


The Nederlander Organization is proud to announce the formation of an unprecedented business alliance with The Shubert Organization, Jujamcyn Theatres and members of The Independent Presenters Network to endorse AUDIENCE REWARDS as the industry’s official national patron loyalty program.

Consumers can enroll in the program at the official site,, where membership details are featured and existing members can log-into their own personalized account. In addition, the site serves theatergoers as an inclusive online information resource for Broadway, Off-Broadway, National Touring Shows and other live entertainment events. Additional featured content includes production notes for shows, links directly to the authorized ticketing company for each venue, information on how members can receive a variety of special benefits, and beginning this fall, the inclusion of earning points towards theatre tickets, merchandise and special experiences.

AUDIENCE REWARDS was introduced in September 2006 as a national appreciation program for Nederlander patrons. “The feedback from our patrons was very enthusiastic and our initial pilot program far exceeded our expectations in terms of audience engagement and ticket sales,” says James L. Nederlander, President, The Nederlander Organization. “We are delighted that other New York theatre owners, as well as presenting organizations from around the country, have accepted our invitation to work in partnership with us to expand the scope of the project. As a group, we can realize our shared vision of delivering meaningful benefits and services to Broadway’s national audience.”

Nick Scandalios, Executive Vice President, Nederlander, says, “AUDIENCE REWARDS provides its partners a national brand that promotes all our shows, enables individual theatres or producers to work together, and facilitates a direct two-way communication between venues and the consumers who deserve to be rewarded for their years of patronage. With our strong relationship with Ticketmaster, we can assure that all Broadway Ticketmaster theatres can participate in this program.”

In order to design a world-class “coalition” program that includes multiple independently owned/operated theatres, The Nederlanders engaged Bonfire Partners and, whose principals have vast experience in creating and managing loyalty programs for a wide variety of companies as diverse as Starwood Hotels, Delta Airlines and Visa.

“Over 75 million consumers in America belong to a one or more of the over 2,500 loyalty programs in the market today,” says Mark Lacek, Managing Director, Bonfire Partners. “AUDIENCE REWARDS is the first such program to unite the Live Entertainment industry. We believe this program will deliver a significant value to consumers and, in return, happy customers will help expand the business of Broadway. AUDIENCE REWARDS is truly a groundbreaking program for the Loyalty industry and we are very excited to play an important role.”

Gerald Schoenfeld, Chairman of the Shubert Organization, says, “We are very pleased to join our colleagues at the Nederlander Organization in the formation of AUDIENCE REWARDS. Encouraging attendance at America’s performing arts institutions is vitally important and AUDIENCE REWARDS provides a way to acknowledge our patrons, and to meaningfully recognize their passion for the theatre.”

Rocco Landesman, President, Jujamcyn Theaters, says, “We are excited to be part of AUDIENCE REWARDS. This alliance, unprecedented in that producers and theater owners are joined together for an inclusive, nationwide marketing initiative, is a big step forward for the industry.”

Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director, The League of American Theatres and Producers, says, “As the representative of the commercial theatre, we believe that AUDIENCE REWARDS enables our members to work cooperatively to build a powerful marketing platform that will strengthen the industry. We are so pleased that Broadway now has a way to recognize, connect and reward our most important constituents— passionate theatergoers. This is a milestone that reinforces our belief that Broadway is the longest street in America.”

To establish AUDIENCE REWARDS as a national program, The Nederlanders invited members of the Independent Presenters Network (IPN), a group of performing arts centers and Broadway presenters, to join the coalition of New York theatre operators.

“The IPN was initially formed to enable theatres to invest in individual productions and secure performance dates,” says Al Nocciolino, Chairman of the IPN. “Today, the business of Broadway is not just about presenting good shows. Our local participation in AUDIENCE REWARDS is recognition that customer service, benefits and value-added experiences are essential ingredients in attracting and keeping our patrons.”

IPN members to join the coalition to date include: Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Charlotte, North Carolina; Broadway Series South, Raleigh, North Carolina; Bushnell Performing Arts Center, Hartford, Connecticut; California Musical Theatre, Sacramento, CA; Civic Center of Greater Des Moines, Des Moines, Iowa; The DuPont Theatre, Wilmington, Delaware; The Fox Theatre, St. Louis, Missouri; NAC Enterprises, Buffalo, New York; Pittsburgh CLO, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Providence Performing Arts Center, Providence, Rhode Island; The Starlight Theatre, Kansas City, Missouri; and Theater of the Stars, Atlanta, Georgia.

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