Planning a new season

May 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

Here it is May, the sun is shining, and the Anchorage Concert Association has finally gotten another season out the door. I’m not sure, but I think the 2012-2013 season is our 62nd or so.

Since the season has launched, I’ve had questions about why this and why that.

Why isn’t there any dance?

THOSE are the Broadway shows?

All these comments boil down to the most common question I get about programming a season. “How do you choose what you choose?”

Season programming is the ultimate balancing act. You have to balance who and what is currently touring and available against open dates at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. We like to try to balance what we do against what other local groups are doing. For instance, if Alaska Dance Theatre is going to have a performance on one weekend, we try not to put an ACA dance concert on a weekend in close proximity.

Then you have to find those artists who are willing to travel to Alaska. I would say the biggest misconception about getting artists to come to Alaska is that EVERYONE wants to come to Alaska. This is, in fact, not the case. For every artist or group who does want to come here, there are two or three others who do not. Oddly enough, some artists are afraid to fly and only do dates to which they can drive. Others don’t want to come to Alaska in the winter, which is when ACA is doing its work. I get a lot of, “Isn’t the weather tricky that time of year?”

Additionally, because of the distance and time it takes to get to Alaska, most artists want to have more than just one gig in Anchorage. I then talk to presenters of performing arts in all parts of the state trying to find additional venues. Sometimes this isn’t possible, and I’m put in the position of either paying a higher fee or not getting the artist.

Even after all this gets ironed out, there is still the potential that an artist might get a larger tour in another part of the world. I am currently dealing with just such an issue with one of the artists we booked for the 12-13 season. He has a single date with us, but a larger tour overseas has come up that will be much more lucrative. The good news, is once an artist commits to coming here, they want to make it happen no matter what.

Broadway dates are even trickier. A Broadway company usually travels with four to six 54-foot semi trailers and about 60-80 cast and crew. Moving that many people and that much equipment gets very expensive. Broadway shows are out on the road for as few as 13 weeks or as many as 26 weeks at a time. They tour like this without breaks in between so they can earn as much money as possible. Coming to Alaska means that the companies have to layoff at least a week to get to and from Alaska. This is sometimes not financially feasible for a touring company.

When you look at the big picture, it’s amazing to think that anyone gets up here to begin with. Getting the season nailed down is one of the most stressful things we do, but it is also one of the most satisfying things we do. We love to hear how excited people get about the upcoming slate of events. Standing in the lobby at the first show after we announce the season is the ultimate litmus test for how we did. At the end of the day, our primary goal is to find and deliver a wide variety of performing art forms with our 20-25 events that entertain and inspire Alaskans. While we hope that everyone will love each and every program, we know this isn’t possible from season to season. While one season may not resonate with you, chances are the next year will.

What shows are you looking forward to? Is there genre of performing arts you’d like to see more of in Alaska?

– ACA Executive Director, Jason Hodges

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