Actors know it as their rite of passage into professional acting gigs. “Pounding the Pavement”. I remember doing four auditions in a day once. The first required me to wait in line outside from 5:00am until the doors opened at this NY audition venue at 9:00 am. After making it inside to sign up for a 2pm audition slot I hoofed it over to another studio 7 blocks away to sign up for another audition. While I was there I squeezed into yet another audition and then ran back to the first spot to sing. Still having more time until the next audition I took the subway to yet another spot and sang, danced and subwayed it back to the final audition. This wasn’t an unusual day. Hence, “Pounding the Pavement”.
After yesterday this phrase has a new and better feel to it. I was in Stamford “Pounding the Pavement” with four meetings to promote the theatre and garner us more “tribe” members. At noon I met with two of the movers and shakers from the Reinventing Stamford group. These women were very involved in the educational elements and had some good suggestions about how to continue developing my education/outreach program. I think that is going to be a key in getting some major funding. They also suggested I figure out how to engage the various ethnic groups in the city.
At 2pm Andy, Deb and I met with the Stamford Center for the Arts folks. They work at the Palace Theatre in Stamford presenting great stuff like David Sedaris, Diana Ross, Miss India (Connecticut) various concerts as well as other arts groups and events. They also showed us the space below the Palace that needs to be renovated but has potential. 199 seats.
My chiropractor referred me to a man who works for Merrill Lynch in Greenwich who was really helpful last week at our meeting and he referred me to Kay, who runs a big non profit in Stamford for our 4pm meeting. She was lovely and gave us a few more folks to contact. She lives in Greenwich so part of our mission is to find a way to make our theatre exclusive enough for them and inclusive enough for Stamford.
By 6pm I was pumped by all the good feedback. Our final meeting was with Gene D’Agastino, a truly great businessman, and one of the many contacts Gene has been sending my way. Tom, a senior advisor with a corporate finance boutique company, and Gene really know Stamford and both of them love Broadway. It seems to be a theme with the business people I am meeting. Most of them have children who are in the arts as well. His wife also works with kids with special needs, and since that is another element of our education outreach, we are setting up another meeting. I loved the energy of this last meeting.
All of these meetings have helped me narrow down my “elevator speech”, that two- minute commercial for a proposal. Think, movie pitch, but I try to tailor it for the person’s main interest. Whether it is pure art, education, nonprofit or business to business.
Pounding the pavement. My feet really did hurt. But the amount of time these folks spent with me (in comparison to the 2 minutes I get in auditions) was at least an hour. The amount of respect they offered my ideas and the advice and contacts they all offered really blew my mind. At auditions, due to time constraints, you usually get a “thank you” and not much in the way of feedback. With 300 people to hear in a day you understand. I wasn’t competing with that many people yesterday. In fact, I laugh inside when people tell me “you know this will be hard work right?” They have obviously never pursued a theatre career.
Deb, the amazing commercial real estate agent, tells me that helping me and attending these meetings is her way to relax! Gene loves theatre and is actually quite a talent. The others I met all have various performing tendencies. I think that introducing them to the Broadway folks I bring out to Stamford will be a nice start at rewarding them for their time.
The key to meeting these people and adding them to the tribe of supporters is to accept their advice about various things I can add to my marketing or business plan. To remain coachable and not get egotistical about my ideas so that I miss their nuggets of wisdom. It’s tempting to tell them what I know. But I realized that the more they help me create this theatre, the more they’ll take ownership.
But just to prove that you can’t take the theatre pounding out of the girl I must admit to doing a photo shoot for an ad agency courting Home Town Buffet at 9:45am yesterday before my new pavement pounding adventures began.