Transparency, Part 1: Season Announcements

Why are theatre seasons kept “secret” until they are announced? Except this is theatre, and anyone who works in theatre knows there are very few secrets, particularly when it comes to projects that have been slated for production. Let me be clear: if things are sensitive, in process, or in any other way legitimately not yet confirmed, then keeping quiet makes sense.

However, if the rights have cleared and the contracts with the creative teams have been signed, why would a theatre continue to hold on to that information until a formal season announcement? Is that actually a secret? Do people actually care? I WISH the general public was so invested in a theatre that a season announcement was like a special treat…I just don’t think it works that way anymore. It seems to me this is a holdover from the days of a subscription model that has been dying out for two decades. If a theatre has dropped below 50% of a house being subscribed consistently for years, then isn’t it better to dole out a season a title at a time, rather than create a lengthy list where people’s eyes blur and they no longer retain the information? Get some early sizzle for the world of single ticket buyers since they are more than half the potential audience?

A theatre could then still make a very public and splashy season ticket announcement as a way to sell subscriptions, wherein everything is fully revealed, but I think some teaser information might create interest. Don’t worry, I will still click on every theatre season announcement that American Theatre rolls out on social media, and I bet the hard-core theatre fans will, too.

Yes, of course things can change and again, I’m only talking about things that are clearly confirmed–but just because a season announcement is made public, that does not mean that it is frozen in time and will not change. Something could still drop, for whatever reason, and a replacement is subsequently announced.

I’m fatigued at having to say “but it’s not public yet” and hearing that in return, as though the public is a delicate flower that must be protected. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–I believe in transparency in as much as it is possible, so get ready to hear me wax on about applying transparency to a variety of topics.

Or maybe this is why I don’t work in marketing.