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Coming to a lobby near you.

AROUND THE COUNTRY: Some observers have called them a step toward commercialization. But more and more nonprofit theatres are jumping on board to place video monitors in their lobbies to display advertising and original programming aimed at theatregoers. The scheme is being touted as a smart approach to finding new sources of financing to support the works of nonprofit theatres.

StageVision hookups are already ensconced in the lobbies of eight companies, namely Alliance Theatre Company in Atlanta, American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Mass., Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., Cleveland Play House in Ohio, Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Conn., Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, R.I., Alley Theatre in Houston, and Seattle Repertory Theatre.

These troupes share another thing in common: They are all affiliated with the National Corporate Theatre Fund, a New York City-based association dedicated to increasing corporate participation in the theatre. The brainchild of NCTF, StageVision was made possible through the efforts of three corporate entities. Sharp Electronics supplies the sleek Sharp Aquos liquid-crystal display screens. Palace Production Center in New York is producing video work, which, in turn, is based on the arts coverage of Time magazine, a longtime NCTF supporter.

Despite its commercial aspects, StageVision has received the imprimatur of the National Endowment for the Arts, which provided a modest but noteworthy $30,000 grant to the theatre fund to develop and launch the project.

According to Bruce Whitacre, NCTF's executive director, the creators of StageVision's programming take care that the advertising does not detract from its educational purpose. "Our use of branded content is always about the theatre," Whitacre says. Moreover, StageVision allows advertisers to reach a coveted demographic, since research shows that 47 percent of theatregoers earn more than $75,000 a year and 77 percent have at least a college degree.

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As more nonprofit theatres warm up to the initiative, StageVision's next video programming will focus on the NEA's Shakespeare in American Communities program. Visit www.nctf.org.

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Title Annotation:National Corporate Theatre Fund
Publication:American Theatre
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2007
Words:330
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