I Wonder Which Gins Are Available At The Concession Stand

It’s always fun when two divergent steams streams of thought coincide to produce something intriguing. Case in point, I recently joined the board of directors for a period-instrument orchestra here in Chicago, The Baroque Band, and shortly thereafter hopped on board a local dinner club/think tank (DCTT) that was the brainchild of Amy Calhoun, A.K.A. the Ticket Maven, for Chicago area arts professionals.

On the Baroque Band side of things, one of my responsibilities as a new board member is to help refine their online presence and maximize the scope and efficiency of technology based solutions. To that end, I’ve been thinking about creating an e-program notes microsite for their masterworks concerts in the venues where they leave the [sws_css_tooltip position=”center” colorscheme=”rosewood” width=”450″ url=”” trigger=”house lights on” fontSize=”14″]Encouraging patrons to use their Smartphones in a darkened hall is a non-starter for me if for no other reason than the increased potential for inadvertently annoying surrounding patrons. [/sws_css_tooltip] during performances.

In addition to all of the expected content (pretty much everything you would find in the print version) I’m spending some time making a concerted effort before the concert begins to notice what I tend to think about that also has a connection to the ensemble and/or venue. As it turns out, one item I’m always curious about is what they are serving at the concession stands and how much it costs. Do they carry a brand of gin I prefer? Do they have hot tea and if so, which varieties? What sort of snacks are available? Can I pay for them in advance from my phone? Etc., etc.

When I tossed this idea out to Amy Calhoun and Vin Reed, my DCTT companions, it generated some intriguing feedback so I plan on running with it for a couple of reasons: a) it’s a fun idea and b) it’s a comparatively easy task to implement and track. Thanks to Amy and Vin for coming up with some good thoughts and observations vis-a-vis implementation as well as some other nontraditional program book items to consider besides a connection with concessions.

Consequently, I’m curious to know if anyone else has been experimenting with an online version of program notes that reach behind traditional content. If so, what are you up to and what sort of outcomes are you encountering? If you have a URL that illustrates your work, thank you in advance for sharing.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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0 thoughts on “I Wonder Which Gins Are Available At The Concession Stand

  1. I’m the one who lol’d that the gateway to the artist was through the concession stand. But Drew is capturing “experience” and considering all paths. Each interaction defines customer experience and thus must reinforce brand. I’ve been experimenting with extended programs via smartphone for a couple years with DanceWorks Chicago. I recently redesigned danceworkschicago.org to provide a better linked experience to content (photos, videos, artists). The extended program on a mobile device is a power catalyst for twitter. But we have to wrap that content with our brand in order to establish preference. Tweet friendly, and Brand conscious, are my primary values. (premise: those values attract sympatico advertisers and loyalty). Way to go Drew. I look forward to sharing more as we all move in this direction.

    • Thanks Vin, those are all very good observations and crafting a solution that can incorporate all of those items in an intuitive way and then encouraging patrons to take advantage of it is what will unfold over the next several weeks. I’m also curious to see if a solution presents itself from a technical perspective that can make all of this comparatively easy to implement on a larger scale. Stay tuned…

  2. I’ve been to several art exhibitions where the works didn’t have name placards, but instead had QR codes that linked to a mobile site. From there, you could get the standard title-artist-year-medium info, but they also had links to more extended info. One link for more biographical info and one for more artistic statement about the piece.

    Additionally, I often fantasize about some kind of “live” program note site that would somehow be loosely synchronized to the piece (“…This trumpet solo was written with the composer’s son Marcus in mind…” or “…This second theme is often thought to symbolize the composer’s fondness for cornflakes…”). This could be accomplished through AJAX long polling or perhaps HTML5 websockets. The timings would just have to be approximated. Maybe somebody hits “go” on the master switch at the beginning of each piece.

    • Back in the day, there was something like the real-time program notes item you described; it was called Concert Companion and ran on Palm devices running proprietary software (you had to rent it at the hall). But it was a huge flop.

      • I don’t know about that, I wish most placards had additional info via a QR code but maybe that’s just the geek I me. Regardless, I would suggest that it will become increasingly common and as tech evolves, something will, replace QR codes but the concept will be the same. One step closer to the Matrix…

        But yes, having no info and no smartphone would be frustrating.

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