A.R.T./NY Joins Social Media Swim! Now Bring the Bloggers!


There was very exciting and encouraging press release in my email box this morning.

The Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York, the chief service organization for the nonprofit theater industry in New York City, is teaming up with the commercial website Theatermania.com to forge a “new social media platform” called New York Theatre Network.

Story continues below.

The idea, according to the press release, is to “cultivate new and existing audiences for the vibrant community of not-for-profit theatre organizations in New York City.” Dubbed by the collaborating groups as a “multi-prong theatre hub,” the site will be “dedicated to deepening the engagement between artists and audiences in the theater capital of the world.” Admirable stuff, of course. No question.

Later, the press release about New York Theatre Network states that the site is unique in that:

…it puts both the larger theatre with a sizable advertising budget and the smallest theatre with no advertising budget on a level playing field. As the “MenuPages” of the theatre world, NYTN allows users to browse in multiple ways–satisfying every appetite. NYTN also allows fans and member theatres to deepen their relationship by interacting through open discussion boards that can be created by the theatre company or the fans. NYTN’s social networking function allows users to see what their friends are sharing and liking and then makes recommendations to users based on their own preferences as well as their friends’. Additionally, users can view videos associated with the shows and purchase tickets to shows through the site.

First, let me applaud A.R.T./NY and Theatermania.com for showing foresight and leadership in their development and creation of this site. It’s currently in beta but already, if you ask me, the promise is evident.

Second, in fact, let me urge all of you to visit the site immediately — go in, tool around, click, click, click, and tell all your friends about it — FB it, if you will, into a mega-clicky festival. If properly marketed, the site will be part of the next wave of arts marketing that the creative economy in New York hungers for — and deserves.

Third, may I offer some constructive feedback?

The site has a good layout: the scrollable “member theaters” list at left is particularly clean, and it has the added and obvious benefit of speaking to A.R.T./NY’s mission and membership. These organizations need and deserve priority on the site, which I think will stand as the latest in a long line of innovative services that Ginny Louloudes, A.R.T./NY’s executive director, has created for her constituency.

But I do think there’s an important amelioration still to come.

See the tab up top for blogs: the vast and burgeoning universe of independent blogs (for a list, look at the dozens on the blogroll at the bottom of the CFR homepage) is nowhere to be found. Yet.

Here I’m going to get a little rhetorical. For in view, the question is this:

If the idea behind New York Theatre Network is to “cultivate new and existing audience for the vibrant community of non-for-profit theatre organizations in New York City”…

If the idea behind New York Theatre Network is to create “an information source, an event site, and a home for social networking”…

If the idea behind New York Theatre Network is “dedicated to deepening the engagement between artists and audiences in the theater capital of the world”…

Then it is inevitable, it is inexorable, it is essential that the multitudes of independent theater blogs out there — and no, I don’t just mean this one — be included on the site. A link is a link is a link. Community is community is community.

For it is impossible to deepen “engagement” if a de facto wall exists between blogs of nonprofit theaters and blogs of — well — theater practitioners, administrators, marketers, critics, journalists, aficionados and fans who have built their sites and generated significant, sustained, substantial traffic, since long before New York Theatre Network was even a faint twinkle in anyone’s eyes.

I hope the folks behind New York Theatre Network jump on the inclusion train posthaste. Their promising website will be even greater if they do.