NYU Stern School of Business

Undergraduate College

C55.0025.001: THE BUSINESS OF BROADWAY

Spring 2011

Instructor Details

Scrofani, Aldo

ascrofan@stern.nyu.edu

917.206.4660

By appointment

TMA, 321 West 44th St.

 

Course Meetings

M, 6:30pm to 7:45pm

Tisch T-UC04


Final Exam:

Schedule exceptions
    Class will not meet on:
    Class will meet on:

 

Course Description and Learning Goals

This is a specialty course designed to provide students with a framework for understanding the dynamics of Broadway and live theater as an important business enterprise within the entertainment industry.  The focus is on understanding the development and application of the economics, finance, structure, implementation and staging of performances, as well as the marketing strategies and tactics for gaining audience awareness and decision to purchase a ticket. The course will examine the process of the acquisition/development, planning, staffing, funding, marketing, branding, product positioning and the global distribution of live theatrical entertainment product.

The course will cover an overview of the theatre including the venues and types – First Class Broadway, Off Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, Touring venues, Regional theatres, CLO’s (Civic Light Opera) and more, the everyday vocabulary used by the professionals, the players, the basic business and creative structures, budget development, supplementary revenue streams and more. We will discuss and review the successes and failures-the reasons for, the relationship with the movie and music industries, the art of collaboration, the important figures and their function and support systems that make the system work.

The course will also explore and review the Global optimization of the “created” theatrical project through its distribution by touring (a significant potential source of income) and licensing (long term view and value of obtaining these rights), foreign language productions, sponsorships, the making of a movie of the theatrical project (Chicago, Dream Girls, Nine, …) and promotion.  We achieve all this through lecture, discussions, guest lecturers from the industry, practical participation, text book reading and discussion, and both an individual and team semester project.

 

Course Objectives

To provide students with a substantive and practical understanding of both the process of the theatre- from the “idea” to the important “staff” functions and their contributions to the endeavor, the planning, budgeting, funding, presentation and ultimate optimization of the resulting project.

To provide students with a framework of understanding the industry through practical case and show discussions, lectures, available and current readings of critical marketing, economic, financial and creative discussions through newspapers and other media that affect the industry and individual projects and opportunities for some of the most important companies within the theatre industry.

To learn the basic concepts, terms and vocabulary which apply to rights acquisition, financing, marketing, positioning, producing, presenting and distributing live theatre. To analyze the activities of key companies within the theatre industry. To learn the roles of the key personnel, staff, and individuals as part of the creative and production teams and what they are comprised of.

      To become familiar with marketing strategies and techniques that cut across all the sectors of the entertainment industry including classic vehicles   such as advertising, public relations, and direct marketing.

 

Required Course Materials

Performing Arts Management: A Handbook of Professional Practice

By Tobie Stein, PhD and Jessica Bathurst

2008 Allworth Press

This text will form the basic class text book and is required for this class. The syllabus below assigns selected chapters and sections for reading by the student and must be read prior to the discussion in class. The student is urged to read all assigned material whether or not we have time to review the material in the subsequent class. By semester’s end, all such material assigned will be extremely useful in completing the semester project.

Additional resources:

PBS documentary series – Broadway, The American Musical

The New York Times

The Theatrical Index

Variety

www.livebroadway.com

 

Course Outline

SCHEDULE OF LECTURES: (Flexibility of guest lecturer visits and assignments is required)

 

 

JANUARY 24, 2011: - Session 1-Introduction to “The Business of Broadway”

●   Course Goals & Objectives; My background and experience; Guest lecturers;    Review Syllabus and Overview of Course assignments and requirements.

●    Collaboration and Team building - what, who and why is it essential in the business of Broadway.

●    Risk- What is it and how does it affect every facet of our work and project.

●    Commercial (For Profit) vs. Not for Profit – Intro to topic.

 

●    ASSIGNMENT:

  1. Read Chapters 1 (Organizational Structure and managerial positions) and 2 (Mission, Vision & Strategy –Sections: Management vs. leadership & strategic planning process only)
  2. Selection of Teams for semester project-each team will require five people.
  3. Be prepared by next class to submit the list of names of each group and what section of each group report each individual will take responsibility for.
  4. Due next class – Individual background paper

  

January 31, 2011:- Session 2- Overview of  Structure

          ** DUE – Individual background paper

 

●   Commercial vs. Not For Profit cont’d.

●   The Structure – Business

            a) Theaters & Owners

            b) The Producer

            c) Partners / Investors

            d) General Manager / Company Manager

            e) Press Agent / Advertising and Marketing

            f) Stage Management and Production manager and department heads.

g) The Unions-what are they and what function to they provide….for labor, and for management. Are they necessary?

            ●   The Structure – Creative

a) Author-The Play

b) Author of a musical- Writer, Composer & Lyricist

c) Director

d) Choreographer

e) Designers-Lighting, sound, costume….special effects, flying?

f) Music Supervisor and Musical director

g) Orchestrators and Music Arrangers

 

 

●  Assignment:  Read Chapter 4: Commercial Producing

 

February 7, 2011- Session 3-  Rights acquisition, production entity and financing  ** Guest lecturer – Theatrical Attorney

         

          ●  Intellectual property

            ●  Territory & term

            ●  Production Entities - Joint Ventures, Limited Partnerships, LLC

            ●  Royalty Pools, Recoupment etc.

            ●  Investment documents

            ●  Subsidiary and ancillary rights

            ●  Foreign language productions

 

            ●  Assignment:  Read Chapter 5: Financial Management – Section: Budgets &

            Chapter 9: Labor Relations

 

February 14, 2011-Session 4-The Budget- Development and definitions:

           

● Developing a Budget- The “Body count”…

                        a) The Production Budget – line items & elements

                        b) The Operating Budget – line items & elements

                        c) The Pro – Forma

                        d) Controlling & maintaining the budget

e) Unions & rules – Economic issues relating to budget-Actor’s Equity, AFM, IATSE, SSD&C, USA and more

                        f)  Engaging creative personel

                        g) Deal structures

 

●  Assignment:  Read Chapter 11: Facility Management

           

February 21, 2011- President’s day holiday- No Class

 

February 28, 2011- Session 5- Theatre/Venue and its Purpose, Role and Management.

           

● The Venue- A building or an enterprise?

                        a) Discussion on all of the various sections and purpose.

                        b) The personnel generally provided for and managed by the Venue.

                        c) Theatre’s role in marketing and sale of tickets/control

                        d) Terms and descriptions of theatre:

            ● REVIEW FOR MID-TERM

         

 

March 7, 2011- Session 6-  MID-TERM EXAM

 

          ●  Assignment:  Read Chapter 7: Strategies for selling tickets

 

March 14, 2011- Spring recess- No Class

 

March 28, 2011- Session 7- Marketing and Advertising

** Guest lecturer(s) –Advertising & marketing executive(s)

           

● Developing a campaign

            ● Artwork, Logo, Title Treatments

            ● Marketing materials – TV spots, Broll, Radio Spots, Posters, Flyers

● Print advertising, Television & radio advertising, Direct mail, internet, grassroots marketing

 

April 4, 2011- Session 8- “Putting on the show”- pulling it all together…the forces working with and against the project- External and internal

 

●  Selecting the venue

●  The schedule- take in and tech of show, rehearsal…

●  Reviewing the designs

●  Reviewing the production plan and BUDGET.

●  Rehearsal process

● Teching a show

● Sitzprobe, blocking, programming

● Dress rehearsals, final run throughs, start & stops

● Previews, Official Press Opening

 

●  Assignment:  Read Chapter 10: Touring

 

April 11, 2011- Session 9- Touring-timing and market positioning.

Attending Guest lecturer: Gary McAvay- president of Columbia Artists Theatricals:

            ● Positioning in the market place

            ● Market segments – first class, secondary & tertiary markets

            ● Routing

            ● Pricing & Selling

● Terminology – Guarantee, Gross Box Office, Settlements, Promoter Profit, Overages

 

April 18, 2011- Session 10- Presentation of Team project-Groups 1-3

 

April 25, 2011- Session 11- Presentation of Team project- Groups 4-6

 

May 2, 2011- Session 12- Presentation of Team projects- Groups 7-9

 

May 9, 2011- Last Class- Presentation of Team projects- Group 10

A course reflection and review of semester topics.

 

Assessment Components

Attendance and class participation will be extremely important as much of the  study of this important sector of the entertainment industry is obtained from lectures, class review of readings and assignments, guest lectures by various respected industry professionals (Theatrical Attorney, Agents, Tour expert,  Marketing & advertising executives,….) as well as discussion of current articles and theatrical reviews by “critics”, some selected texts and hand-outs.  The class will be graded on the following basis:

    Grading

     Individual Bio/Career Objectives                 10%

     Class Participation                                        15%

     Midterm Exam                                                 25%  

     Team Project written report                          25%

           Team Project presentation                            25%

 

Grading

At NYU Stern we seek to teach challenging courses that allow students to demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter.  In general, students in undergraduate core courses can expect a grading distribution where: 

Note that while the School uses these ranges  as a guide, the actual distribution for this course and your own grade will depend upon how well  you actually perform in this course.

 

Re-Grading

The process of assigning grades is intended to be one of unbiased evaluation. Students are encouraged to respect the integrity and authority of the professor’s grading system and are discouraged from pursuing arbitrary challenges to it.

If you believe an inadvertent error has been made in the grading of an individual assignment or in assessing an overall course grade, a request to have the grade re-evaluated may be submitted. You must submit such requests in writing to me within 7 days of receiving the grade, including a brief written statement of why you believe that an error in grading has been made.

 

Professional Responsibilities For This Course

Attendance/Lateness:

    Any Absences/Tardiness in excess of one (1) will lower your class participation grade. If you are going to miss a class or be tardy please notify me in advance.

    Cheating/Plagiarism:

    Cheating/Plagiarism will result in a grade of "F" for the assignment/exam for all parties involved.

    Class Participation:

    It is essential that everyone contributes to class discussion and come to the group willing to listen and contribute openly while considering a range of different points of view.  You will be expected to read the text assigned for the next class as well as review any handouts distributed during any class for future discussion or use and be prepared to discuss the content.

    While I expect lively debate when appropriate, we have a responsibility to each other to “agree to disagree”; in other words we will strive to create an environment where it is safe and indeed encouraged, to express an opinion and point of view.

    Learning will come from each participant trying to understand the issues, lectures, and media statements and readings.  Please continue with reading assignments as scheduled regardless of whether the class activities at times fall behind schedule.  You will be responsible for all assigned readings, whether covered in class or not.

Class participation will be graded on the quality of the interaction and will be measured against these criteria:

    Preparedness of the comments                             

   Drawing on current news articles

    Extent of knowledge     

    Listening skills

    Ability to get to the heart of the matter

    Opening new doors for investigation

    Statement of practical relevant experience

    New insights

    Building on statements of others

 

Stern Policies

General Behavior
The School expects that students will conduct themselves with respect and professionalism toward faculty, students, and others present in class and will follow the rules laid down by the instructor for classroom behavior.  Students who fail to do so may be asked to leave the classroom. 

 

Collaboration on Graded Assignments
Students may not work together on graded assignment unless the instructor gives express permission. 

 

Course Evaluations
Course evaluations are important to us and to students who come after you.  Please complete them thoughtfully.

 

Academic Integrity

Integrity is critical to the learning process and to all that we do here at NYU Stern. As members of our community, all students agree to abide by the NYU Stern Student Code of Conduct, which includes a commitment to:

The entire Stern Student Code of Conduct applies to all students enrolled in Stern courses and can be found here:

Undergraduate College: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/uc/codeofconduct
Graduate Programs: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/studentactivities/involved.cfm?doc_id=102505

To help ensure the integrity of our learning community, prose assignments you submit to Blackboard will be submitted to Turnitin.  Turnitin will compare your submission to a database of prior submissions to Turnitin, current and archived Web pages, periodicals, journals, and publications.  Additionally, your document will become part of the Turnitin database.

 

Guidelines for Written Assignments

  1. All papers are to be typed, double-spaced, 12 point font, one inch margins, include page numbers and be written in APA format (for info: www.apastyle.org/). Please include a cover page with your name, assignment title, the date and course number. 
  2. It is recommended that you follow a basic proposal, report format or a style book to present your work in a polished and professional manner.  Please be sure to cite all references / resources in APA format.
  3. Please take time to organize your work so that it is clear and concise.  Your opening statement should be an introduction which states what your objective is and what you're going to discuss.  The main body should present your findings in a logical and straight-forward way.  Summarize your findings or recommendations at the end in a conclusion.  Break up your work into subheadings.
  4. Make sure that your work is proofread and edited.  Your final draft should be free of errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar; having someone else proofread is the most effective way to do this.
  5. Some of you may want to use your work as a tool to help you in your career planning.  This can be a very persuasive "calling card."  It's well worth your time to develop this assignment into something you can use beyond this course.
  6. Your assignments are expected to reflect your understanding and comprehension of the material covered in this course.  This includes all the readings, supplementary handouts, and the lectures.  Most of the detailed information concerning the various aspects of the course curriculum is contained in the extensive readings provided.  Your assignment should represent the cumulative work product of this course and incorporate that information.
  7. The Final Semester project will require both a written report submitted and a verbal presentation as part of the team on a given date as assigned on the syllabus. EACH INDIVIDUAL IS URGED NOT TO MISS THIS DEADLINE. The University imposes a very tight deadline as to when the final grades are due, usually within a few days after the final.  Assignments submitted to me via fax will not be accepted.

 

Group Projects

Guidelines for Group Projects

Business activities involve group effort. Consequently, learning how to work effectively in a group is a critical part of your business education.

Every member is expected to carry an equal share of the group’s workload. As such, it is in your interest to be involved in all aspects of the project. Even if you divide the work rather than work on each piece together, you are still responsible for each part. The group project will be graded as a whole:   its different components will not be graded separately. Your exams may contain questions that are based on aspects of your group projects.

It is recommended that each group establish ground rules early in the process to facilitate your joint work including a problem-solving process for handling conflicts. In the infrequent case where you believe that a group member is not carrying out his or her fair share of work, you are urged not to permit problems to develop to a point where they become serious. If you cannot resolve conflicts internally after your best efforts, they should be brought to my attention and I will work with you to find a resolution.

You will be asked to complete a peer evaluation form to evaluate the contribution of each of your group members (including your own contribution) at the conclusion of each project. If there is consensus that a group member did not contribute a fair share of work to the project, I will consider this feedback during grading.

 

Semester Written Projects and Requirements

1.    Individual BIO/Career Objectives- 2 to 3 pages max, due January 31st.  

The purpose of this paper is to get to know you.  Please include bio or background information on yourself, education and related theatre industry experience to date, career goals and what you hope to get from this course.

2.    Mid-term Exam– March 7th

A mid-term exam will be given consisting of multiple choice, short answer and essay questions relating to course readings and lectures.  More information will be provided and a review will be given prior to the exam date.

3.    Final Team Semester Project

The project is designed to both stimulate and simulate the shared responsibilities of professionals in the quest of selecting, optioning, funding, positioning, marketing, presenting and distributing a live theatrical project for the commercial theatre. The team will be responsible to report on this process broken down into the following five categories:

  1. The Production- what is it, who is it, how big is it… and why
  2. Market Positioning and distribution- What is the Plan to position the show in the Market place, what theatre, how large, when…why?
  3. The Budget- How much will it cost and why
  4. The Funding- How much is it costing for these funds?... can you justify it, who are the investors, what is their expectation at different levels of box office…and why
  5. The Marketing- How will your show gain an audience? Who is your audience, what will you charge for tickets, what is your marketing plan…why.

The “Team” and its members will collectively decide what section each member of the group will both write about as a part of the full report and also present that topic for the full class at the time of the project presentation. Each written section should be 4 to 5 pages in length and when the “Team” report is assembled should flow as though written by one person, i.e. as though you were submitting this report to one investor who would after reading it, feel compelled to fund your project.

The team will select an original Musical, Play, (not one which has been done) or a revival of a classic in either category (ex. “My Fair Lady” as a musical or “Hamlet” as a play etc) and create the above required production plan based on that selection. I don’t want you to spend great time and energy in attempting to create an original “masterpiece of theatre; I will assume that what you invent or create has all the potential of being successful from a creative and content point of view. This is about the producing of the show and not its creation other then defining its basic elements.  It is recommended that one or more of the members of the team see a show in the category of musical, play or revival that matches your selection in scope and genre and be able to report back to the group of its content. I will be available throughout the semester to assist the group, without doing its work, and to guide you in the process on each facet that you are required to report on.

You are required to list your sources which must include at least one book other then the text and one industry source.

 

Recording of Classes

Your class may be recorded for educational purposes

 

Students with Disabilities

If you have a qualified disability and will require academic accommodation of any kind during this course, you must notify me at the beginning of the course and provide a letter from the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD, 998-4980, www.nyu.edu/csd) verifying your registration and outlining the accommodations they recommend.  If you will need to take an exam at the CSD, you must submit a completed Exam Accommodations Form to them at least one week prior to the scheduled exam time to be guaranteed accommodation.

 

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