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DEAG welcomes 20,000+ for Potsdam palace shows

Despite ongoing restrictions on large events in Germany, promoter DEAG was able to bring together more than 20,000 people in Potsdam on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 August for two evenings of French-themed live entertainment.

After a hiatus in 2020, Potsdamer Schlössernacht (Potsdam Palace Night) returned to the Sanssouci Palace Park with the theme Les Rendez-vous au Park Sanssouci, with guests including the actors Benjamin Sadler, Esther Schweins, Benno Fürmann, Dietmar Bär, Andrea Sawatzki and Christian Berkel, and the theatre companies Quidams and Sol’Air.

Other entertainment at the sold-out events included illuminations, projections, tightrope walking and a fire and light show.

Potsdamer Schlössernacht 2021 was able to go ahead as a result of a “comprehensive hygiene concept”, says organiser DEAG, which included halving the normal capacity of the event.

“More than 20,000 visitors found their way to this year’s Potsdam Palace Night despite difficult conditions and were rewarded”

Around 9,000 people attended the open-air show on Friday, while 12,500 were present on Saturday.

“More than 20,000 visitors found their way to this year’s Potsdam Palace Night despite difficult conditions and were rewarded: with, at last, fun walks and good humour, the most beautiful entertainment, and the best pleasure with culinary highlights,” comments DEAG CEO Peter Schwenkow. “We would like to sincerely thank everyone who was there and look forward to all those who want to come next year.”

Mike Schubert, the mayor of Potsdam, adds: “I am very happy about the success of this year’s Palace Night. The event has shown two aspects: a mature and responsible security concept on the part of the organisers, and responsible behaviour on the part of the visitors also, make large events possible. Our city needs formats like the Palace Night, for guests and residents alike.”

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 recovery centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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TEG invests in Ambassador Theatre Group

Sydney-based live entertainment group TEG has acquired a minority stake in West End theatre operator Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG).

ATG, which is majority owned by Providence Equity Partners (Superstruct Entertainment, Tait), owns or manages around 50 venues globally, including many of London’s best-known theatres. Its portfolio includes the Savoy and Lyceum theatres in London, the Lyric and Hudson in New York, and a growing stable of UK music venues, including the upcoming Stockton Globe and Swansea Arena.

In conjunction with Providence, which paid £350 million for ATG in 2013, TEG – itself owned by a private-equity firm, Silver Lake – will reportedly inject £160m in new equity into ATG as UK theatres tentatively reopen.

It is the first acquisition for TEG – a ticketing, touring and venues company with offices across the Asia-Pacific region – in the UK since its buy-out of the former MJR Group last year. The company hired a new director of M&A in May.

In addition to its venue portfolio, ATG operates the UK’s most visited theatre website, ATGtickets.com, selling around 11 million tickets a year pre-coronavirus. The London-based company, which employs around 4,000 people, laid off 1,200 casual staff earlier this month.

 


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Korean musical theatre triumphs despite Covid-19

Several musical theatre productions in Seoul, South Korea, have reported near-full attendance rates for the past few months, reports the Korea Herald.

Productions of shows including Rebecca, Dracula:The Musical and Phantom of the Opera have enjoyed successful runs, even during the height of the Covid-19 epidemic in the country, which caused the cancellation and postponement of many concerts and festivals.

The international touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, produced by the Really Useful Group, began its run in Seoul’s Blue Square Interpark on Saturday (14 March), after wrapping up a two-month run in Busan.

Posting on social media after the “first weekend of packed houses in Seoul”, Australian soprano Claire Lyon wrote: “Thank you in advance to our audience members who continue to support us and for being so diligent in wearing masks and washing hands at the theatre.”

“Thank you in advance to our audience members who continue to support us and for being so diligent in wearing masks and washing hands at the theatre.”

“We feel confident that life will continue to go back to normal over here in the coming weeks (it already seems to be!). Sending love to those around the world whose livelihoods or health has been affected. These are uncertain times but we are soldiering on.”

The number of new cases of the virus reported in Korea has dropped greatly in the past few weeks. However, even at the peak of the epidemic in January and February, theatregoers appeared undeterred.

According to EMK Musical Company, an average of 92% of 1,255 available seats were occupied for the whole season of Rebecca, which ran from November to February at Seoul’s Chungmu Art Centre.

The show is embarking on a nationwide tour on 27 March, visiting 12 cities throughout the country.

Dracula: The Musical, which is produced by OD Company, began its run on 11 February at Seoul’s Charlotte Theatre, recording an average admission rate of 95%. The show is set to continue until 7 June.

Earlier this week, almost 300 theatres in the UK temporarily closed their doors following government advice to “avoid” visiting them. Theatres on New York’s Broadway shut down the week before.

 


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Sam Griffiths joins growing Cuffe and Taylor theatre division

Cuffe and Taylor has hired Sam Griffiths as a senior promoter in its theatre touring division, following a successful 12 months for the fledgling business unit.

Griffiths (pictured) joins the British concert and event promoter from Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), where he programmed several No1 musical theatre and play tours, as well as looking after music, comedy, tribute and variety one-nighters at ATG’s 21 theatres and concert halls.

“I am excited to be joining the theatre division of this growing company, at a time of exponential growth in the live entertainment industry in the UK and internationally,” he comments. “After working with large-scale touring productions, I’m looking forward to bringing this experience to the team, and to start developing new talent and productions to enhance Cuffe & Taylor’s fantastic portfolio of live concerts and theatre productions.”

Cuffe and Taylor’s theatre division, based at parent company Live Nation’s offices in Argyll Street, London, launched last summer and is headed up by director of theatre touring Ben Hatton. A year on, it has sold more than 180,000 tickets to shows including John Barrowman, Sarah Brightman, Lea Salonga, Britain’s Got Talent star Robert White and new Tina Turner musical What’s Love Got to Do with It?.

Upcoming projects include Whitney: Queen of the Night, which will tour the UK in 2020 following its debut at London’s Savoy Theatre in March, and new dance show Heartbeat of Home, from the producers of Riverdance.

“Stepping into theatre production has long been the aim”

“We’re approaching 400 shows for our first year, and are still taking bookings in 2019,” says Hatton, which is a great testament to how well these tours are doing – that venues are wanting to add us to their calendar at this stage in the year.

“We’ve got one of the most varied rosters out there; from comedians touring to small venues up and down the country, to tribute shows selling out in the West End and multiple productions being staged at iconic venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and the London Palladium.

“With Heartbeat of Home coming up in the autumn, we have our eyes on further West End opportunities, and are planning our debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for this summer.”

Working alongside Griffiths is senior promoter Cheryl Nicholls. She comments: “Cuffe and Taylor has been creating and promoting incredibly successful theatre tours alongside huge outdoor concerts for several years now, and it is exciting to see where we will go in the next year, with new projects constantly in discussion and development.

“Stepping into theatre production has long been the aim. We are producing and promoting shows for all ages and interests, and I can’t wait to bring our first residency to the West End with Heartbeat Of Home, while continuing to develop new and exciting productions into 2020 and beyond.”

 


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TodayTix receives $73m investment

TodayTix, a ticketing platform for theatre shows, has announced a US$73 million equity investment led by growth-oriented private equity firm Great Hill Partners.

The investment will be used for internal modifications and closing out secondary purchases of original investors, but predominantly for outward-facing growth and “utilising the company’s proprietary data-driven audience feedback to offer new shows, arts and cultural experiences”.

The company will also “double down” on expanding its technologies in discovery and personalisation for both consumers and partners.

“By understanding the ways next-generation audiences purchase and experience shows, we can forever change the way people discover art in their cities,” says TodayTix chief executive and co-founder Fenty.

“Our audiences, married with a community of visionary content creators, establish an unprecedented ecosystem of engagement between the two sides of live entertainment. While ticket sales are the bedrock of our relationships, these are only the beginning of our content and discovery ambitions.”

Founded in New York in 2013 by former Broadway producers Brian Fenty and Merritt Baer, TodayTix is now active in 15 markets around the world. The company has sold more than four million tickets to date, and claims to account for 8% of all Broadway tickets sold per year and 4% of London’s West End.

The company works with 1,300 venue and producer partners, and to date has run lottery and last-minute discount ticket promotions for more than 900 productions.

In October 2018, TodayTix launched its event production division TodayTix Presents,  producing events across its active markets. Its first production, in September 2018, was a sold-out concert with Broadway performers Darren Criss, Matthew Morrison, and Ariana DeBose, featuring the music of Madonna, Katy Perry, and the Beatles.

“By understanding the ways next-generation audiences purchase and experience shows, we can forever change the way people discover art in their cities”

“From our humble beginnings in 2013, to our current global business on three continents serving millions of culture lovers, TodayTix has changed arts and entertainment ticket buying for the next generation,” says the ticketing company’s co-founder and president Baer.

“This investment from Great Hill Partners will allow us to take our ambitions to the next level; we couldn’t be more excited about the road ahead,” adds Baer.

“TodayTix is rapidly changing the way millennials and other consumers connect with live cultural experiences,” comments Michael Kumin, a managing partner at Great Hill Partners.

“We look forward to working with Brian, Merritt and their talented management team to expand the Company’s product and service offerings and accelerate its push into new geographies.”

Boston-based Great Hill Partners focuses on mid-market growth businesses. The firm recently led the buyout of Gizmodo Media Group from Univision and has invested in companies including Ziff Davis, IGN, Momondo Group, Wayfair and The RealReal.

Methuselah Advisors guided the Great Hill Partners’ investment.

 


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Kili launches dedicated theatre arm, Kilimanjaro Theatricals

Stuart Galbraith, founder and CEO of UK promoter Kilimanjaro Live, and theatre producer Joshua Andrews have announced the launch of Kilimanjaro Theatricals, a new joint venture which will produce and/or co-produce theatrical productions internationally.

London-based Kilimanjaro Theatricals will develop both its own works and a number of “strategic co-productions” in partnership with other producers on a global basis. The new company’s first projects are 9 to 5: The Musical, currently running in the West End of London, Australian production Muriel’s Wedding: The Musical, playing in Melbourne then Sydney, and Hadestown, now previewing on Broadway in New York.

The launch of Kilimanjaro Theatricals follows the acquisition of a majority stake by Kili’s parent company, Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG), in theatrical promoter Flying Music Group in August 2017.

The UK market accounts for around 40% of DEAG’s group turnover, the Berlin-based company said later that year, with DEAG and its affiliates forming “one of the leading promoters and theatre producers” in Britain.

“Kilimanjaro Group has wanted to land into the world of theatre and musical theatre for several years”

“Kilimanjaro Group has wanted to land into the world of theatre and musical theatre for several years,” says Galbraith, who has led the company since its formation in 2008. “We are hugely excited to combine our ambitions with Josh’s excellent skills and experience in this new venture.”

Two-time Olivier-nominated Andrews, who will also continue to independently produce his existing portfolio, adds: “Stuart and I have been talking about this idea for some time and I am delighted to now be starting this journey with him and the talented Kilimanjaro team.

“We believe that by combining our varied skills, experience and relationships we can create an exciting and successful new theatrical enterprise, and we look forward to developing our own works, as well as co-producing with others around the world.”

Kilimanjaro, whose music touring roster includes Ed Sheeran, Red Hot Chili Peppers and the 1975, celebrated its tenth anniversary last year, following its best-ever year in 2017.

 


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Backstage theatre staff working to “breaking point”

Industry bodies and workers’ unions have warned that backstage theatre workers are being “pushed to breaking point” due to a lack of work-life balance, with workers often expected to work 15-hour days.

UK trade unions BECTU and Equity, along with professional associations for stage managers and lighting and sound practitioners, have argued that “excessively long working hours” are leading to “burnout and serious mental health issues”.

Chair of the Association of Lighting Designers, Johanna Town, raised concerns stating that an “expectation to work under intense pressure for periods of 15 to 18 hours per day, six days per week” is standard for theatre production workers.

BECTU, the UK’s media and entertainment trade union, recently launched a set of standards for the live events industry to combat such issues and fight for better working conditions for its members, ensuring reasonable working hours, sufficient breaks and the development of fair and consistent payment rates.

Helen Ryan, assistant national secretary at BECTU, says that a “long-hours culture” affects all backstage roles, indicating how low wages and high expectations were driving production staff to work unreasonable hours.

“We just want to make sure things are done sensibly – all this guidance needs to do is promote good sense”

The effects that long working hours and inadequate rest exerts on production staff was a topic of discussion at this year’s ILMC Production Meeting (IPM).

A panel of industry experts and healthcare professionals stressed the need for change and suggested IPM members create a “guideline document” to outline good working practices and implement a standardised framework for working conditions and staff treatment.

“We’ve received a lot of interest for an IPM welfare project within the production industry, and even from promoters and venues,” venue consultant and chair of the IPM Advisory Group, Carl A H Martin, tells IQ. “Now people want to take action, and importantly they want to do so internationally.”

Martin noted that the shipping and oil and gas industries have such guidelines, laying out standards to be followed industry-wide, “so we need to do the same”.

“We just want to make sure things are done sensibly – all this guidance needs to do is promote good sense,” adds Martin.

 


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TodayTix launches event production arm, TodayTix Presents

Last-minute theatre ticketing platform TodayTix has announced plans to move beyond “simply processing ticket orders into producing live experiences audiences want most” with the launch of a new event production division, TodayTix Presents.

TodayTix, co-founded by former Broadway producers Brian Fenty and Merritt Baer, launched in New York in 2013 and is now also active in London, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Boston, Connecticut, Philadelphia, Seattle, Toronto, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston (Texas) and the Berkshires (Massachusetts). Its partners include more than 450 venues and institutions globally, for whom it sells last-minute tickets to theatrical shows, musicals, comedy shows, concert, operas and dance events.

“When we launched TodayTix in 2013, our mission was to unlock access to theatre and the arts by introducing a simple way to buy and sell tickets,” says CEO Fenty (pictured). “Today, we serve more than 4.6 million customers globally, where more than two-thirds of our customers see multiple shows a year.

TodayTix Presents initially aims to produce three events each quarter across 13 cities

“As we ushered a new, younger demographic into this world over the past five years, we studied their behaviour and solicited their feedback to understand the types of experiences they crave most, which is the driving creative force behind the productions you’ll see from TodayTix Presents.”

TodayTix Presents initially aims to produce three events each quarter across the 13 cities in which it’s active. Its first production was in September 2018, in the form of a sold-out concert with Broadway performers including Darren Criss, Matthew Morrison, and Ariana DeBose, featuring the music of Madonna, Katy Perry, the Beatles and more.

The next TodayTix Presents event will be held in early November in New York city.

 


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Debut Kaleidoscope festival takes place in Ally Pally grounds

Against the backdrop of London’s skyline, the first ever festival in the grounds of Alexandra Palace took place this weekend (21 July). Kaleidoscope festival saw music, poetry, comedy, art and theatre descend on the grade II listed building and surrounding park slopes and woodland.

The festival isn’t the first to take advantage of a historical spot to attract festivalgoers. Hampton Court Palace Festival, now in its 26th year, celebrated its 2018 edition with a record breaking crowd, and Kenwood House’s Heritage Concert Series saw success this year with its first shows since 2013.

On the main stage of Kaleidoscope’s inaugural year festivalgoers were treated to performances from The Flaming Lips, Mystery Jets and Beth Orton. Elsewhere, comedy performances were delivered by Katherine Ryan, Mark Watson and Dr. John Cooper Clarke.

“It’s been amazing to see so many people of all ages enjoying such a diverse mix of music, theatre, comedy and performing arts”

Guests also had the opportunity to explore the rarely-opened Victorian basements within the palace itself. Inside, an immersive theatre experience paid tribute to Alexandra Palace’s role in the creation of television.

Aimed at festivalgoers of all ages, organisers hoped the first edition of the festival would leave people ready for Kaleidoscope instalments for years to come. Speaking about the success of this year’s event, Simon Fell, founder of the Kaleidoscope, says: “It’s been amazing to see so many people of all ages enjoying such a diverse mix of music, theatre, comedy and performing arts this weekend. And what better place to do so than in one of the most beautiful locations in London.

“Something magical took place on Saturday and we can’t wait to welcome people back next year.”

 


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Concert revenue boosts growth for UK theatres

Revenue from concerts held at Britain’s theatres grew 47% in the three years from 2013 to 2016, according to a new report by membership body UK Theatre, highlighting the increasing importance of live music to the performing arts industry.

UK Theatre’s newly released Sales Data Report 2013–2016 reveals that concerts have overtaken pantomime as the highest-performing genre across UK Theatre’s member venues. Over half a million more tickets were sold for concerts at UK Theatre venues in 2016 compared to 2013, delivering a £3.29 increase in average yield, with income from rock and pop concerts growing the fastest: 50% over the three years.

Theatres with a capacity above 1,000 were the most financially important venues for rock and pop shows, followed by concert halls and the auditoria of “principally presenting theatres” – or venues which chiefly present, rather than produce, shows – with a capacity of 500–1,000.

“This report is a vote of confidence for the industry in challenging times”

UK Theatre president Fiona Allan says the growth in concerts demonstrates that theatre managers are “responding to the evolving tastes of audiences”.

Income recorded at UK Theatre venues for all types of programming grew 18%.

“Our sector has many reasons to be cheerful,” comments Allan. “This report is a vote of confidence for the industry in challenging times. We’re continuing to attract audiences, and as an industry we’re showing remarkable resilience during a time of unprecedented financial pressure.

“These figures demonstrate the vital importance of the arts to the national economy, and show that theatre remains a popular and important part of our cultural life in the UK.”

 


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