New York is the most populated city in the United States. It's theatrical gem is the 40 professional theatres located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, in New York City.

According to The Broadway League, Broadway shows sold approximately $1.193 billion worth of tickets in 2013. Attendance in 2013 stood at 11.58 million. The average age of the audience was 42 with an anual income well north of 100,000 dollars. It is a money generating machine.

While theatres struggle to survive in Middle America, major theatrical centres become destination centres for tourists from around the world. Why the difference? Why do small theatres appear to be dying? Why does it seem like no one is going to theatre anymore in Middle America while major commercial theatres rake in the money? Reading posts from theatre practicioners on Linked In suggest an appocalypse in theatre has come. In fact Theatre seems to be on life support. Why such a discrepancy between the haves and have nots?

Obviously marketing has something to do with it. Broadway is a collection of theatres and the collective marketing might of Broadway is much more than the average theatre can do on its own. Broadway is a ubiquitous term-a short hand for theatre, for musicals, for a street. Its marketing works. Most independent theatres might be performing great art but no one knows about it. Marketing budgets are limited and usually the product is uneven. One thing an audience to a broadway production can count on is a big budget, a classy theatre and a star or two in the mix. An independent theatre can not lay that same claim to consistency. An independent production might be brilliant but more often than not, it won't be.

But without the smaller unloved theatres, there likely would be no theatrical flame burning in New York. Without the Darwinian struggle at the grass roots, there would be nothing at the top. Actors, directors, composers et al start off with all the ambition in the world but many are squeezed out as they climb the ladder of success. It is not an easy ladder to climb. Skill, drive, hard work, networking ability and an ability to endure grinding poverty while keeping one's eye on the apple, are all important ingredients to success as well as the most important ingredient of all...luck.

Broadway and its silver-screened sister; Hollywood, are usually the results of a lifetime of hard work from the survvbors of an incredibly competitive art form. The small independent theatre is where it starts. The multi-billion dollar industry that is Broadway, is where it ends. Broadway is not only the destination place for tourists world-wide, but also for the very best actors. While the competition is fierce-the rewards are great.

It is important to keep the lights on in these independent theatres because darkness and ignorance are always just around the corner.



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