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Help us spread the word on ABM7!

Looks like we’ll need your help more than usual this week as we go into our second weekend of And Baby Makes Seven – can you lend a hand?

We really depend on reviews (good, bad or indifferent) to help us after we open a show. We spend a lot of effort pushing opening weekend with the thought that the reviews (which typically come out the week after we open) and the word of mouth generated from opening weekend will then take over and help drive sales for the other two weeks.

And we do mean ‘good, bad or indifferent’ when it comes to reviews. A critic might not like a show, but enough people can read what they have to say and decide it’s still something up their alley to drive them to come check it out. We’ve seen it happen plenty of times before – what looks like a bad review printing ends up selling a boatload of tickets because the readers obviously felt maybe it was a show for them even though it wasn’t up the critic’s alley.

We only had one critic in attendance over opening weekend for ABM7, from the Trib (a paper that’s also been beset with cuts). We learned that CL will send someone out this week, for a story that could help draw attention to our closing weekend – but the Times confirmed today they won’t send anyone to review us this time around. That’s basically only 33% of the coverage we’re accustomed to going into the second weekend of our run.

It’s bad news for the arts in general when a paper like the Times starts scaling back and cutting local arts coverage, but it’s not necessarily a new thing. In the past 10 years, we’ve seen a lot of cuts from a lot of places when it comes to arts coverage. We’ve been told before that we can’t expect the press to cover every show – even for a professional company such as ours that’s the resident company of one of the largest performing arts centers in the country.

Oh – and don’t get me wrong – I can objectively, rationally understand that the newspaper industry is in crisis and cuts have to be made somewhere. More people care about reading (and let’s be honest, advertising in) sports sections and the like more than they are arts sections. Still, the idealist artist in me wants to rage against the machine and talk about high-falutin’ stuff like stewardship and responsibility of journalism/criticism. It hurts us all, on multiple levels, when the press just isn’t there.

If it comes down to just picking the highlights of the highlights, more often than not you’ll be just seeing reviews and reading stories on the things that didn’t need the exposure to begin with. Wanna bet WICKED gets a review – on it’s third tour through the market no less? And no knock on our partners at TBPAC, I’m just using that as an example.

So we do our best to keep moving forward. It’s why we were such an early adopter of and ardent believer in social media and new technologies. It’s made an impact on how we reach people.

And that’s where you come in …

Can you help your friends and neighbors find out about our show? Post a mini review to your blog. Tweet about your experience, or update your status with a Jobsite-friendly message. Shoot an email to those friends you think would appreciate the experience. Embed one of our web banners or videos where ever you might be able to. With opportunities in shotgun pieces like print newspaper stories diminishing, we’ll be relying more and more on our faithful to lend a hand and help us reach people.

It’s appreciated. Truly. And we’re watching – we try to send out special thank you gifts or opportunities here and there to folks who really pitch in for us. And if you ever have any ideas for us as to how we can reach people better – I’m all ears.

Thanks again, Tampa Bay, for being so awesome.

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