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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

CONQUERING THE FRINGE (article first published : 2008-07-4)

This lecture/talk I attended as part of the Hands On… Masks off workshop as part of the Grahamstown Festival 2008 was highly enlightening with ‘mainstream’ artists sharing what they have learnt from their successful participation in mainstream theatre.

This lecture was given by Matthew Ribnick and Geraldine Naidoo from Chilli Boy and Hoot fame. They imparted knowledge as to the elements that need to be considered seriously when putting on a play on the Fringe and successfully breaking into the mainstream theatre sector.

They spoke about a vast number of topics which ranged from venue, ticket prices, flyers, theatre administration, posters and subject matter to target audience, methods of promoting plays, marketing, confidence in performance and creating original (your own) work. Also discussed were sponsorships, proposals, approaching art as a business, cost of productions, length of production, and creativity versus making money. Quality was stressed, both in marketing and production and also belief in the artwork created and presented.

From the list of topics above these were the points made:

Know your venue, size, feel, atmosphere, type of shows successful in it and the area, whether on the Fringe or communities. Ticket prices need not necessarily be expensive, because marketing should be able to sell tickets whether cheap or expensive. Filling the theatres ‘without’ giving out too many (if any at all) complimentary tickets.

The quality of the flyers and posters should be high as first impressions make a big difference. Subject matter should be of quality that would draw in as large an audience as possible, hence it’ll help identify your target audience. Know that target audience and market to them properly so that what they see in the quality of posters, flyers, adverts are what they get when they come watch the show.

The method of promoting your play should be innovative and original with energy and personal contact, rather than in a blasé and bored manner. When marketing a play know your audience and market specifically to who you want to attract and know what you’re selling. Be confident in your own work and believe in it. It is important to create your own work, because everyone has their own story.

A very big point made was to run the arts (production) as a business, a lot of people think art is ‘airy fairy’, but it only works efficiently if you run it as a business so everything is clear from beginning to end and the most amount of money is made. Budgeting must look at the full cost of production, taking into consideration the length of the production and the question of creativity vs. making money

Matthew and Geraldine gave the lecture in a very informal setting, and spoke well and confidently about their art and craft. An interesting and enlightening experience. - Shika Budhoo




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