On the Horizon - November 16

The differences between a season and rental performance

Hi there, how was your week? I’ve been in Montreal since Sunday, attending not one, not two, but THREE simultaneous conferences in this beautiful city. So, it’s a tiring schedule to keep up with and I’m looking forward a little relaxing when we’re all through here – how about you? I hope some of you are headed to Horizon Stage to see Luke McMaster on Saturday (I won’t be there so I’ll miss seeing you). What a great performer he is.

What I want to address in today’s column is something we’ve been handling a lot of recently. What is the difference between Season Shows and Rental Shows at Horizon Stage? Some of you already understand this pretty clearly, but we know there is also some confusion, so we thought we would try to clear some of it up for you.

Let’s start with the Season. Anything that you find in our brochure or under Current Season on our website is a Horizon Stage show. That means we are responsible for contracting the performer, doing the advertising, pricing and selling the tickets, hosting the show, and paying the artist. Of course the season is diverse, including music, dance, comedy, and theatre. There are evenings, afternoons, and all days of the week. There is stuff for families, as well as some with age restrictions, depending on the content. Lots to choose from.

Next let’s look at the rental events. These include shows by area schools, dance studios, choirs, musical groups, as well as political forums, church services, community theatre, and fundraisers. They also include presenters who contract and bring professional performers to multiple cities, on a tour. A few examples of these are the Gil Grand show from October, or Louisiana Hayride and Danny Hooper who both rented the theatre this week. As you can see, there is a lot of variety in what goes on stage as a rental event.

There have been a lot of rental events at the theatre that we’ve sold tickets for, and I think that’s where some of the confusion starts. It’s pretty easy to know if you’re going to your daughter’s ballet recital; that’s not a Horizon Stage show. That’s the dance studio, renting our space to give the dancers and families a great experience with live performance. It’s less clear when a renter brings the same artist we presented in our season a couple years ago, as with the Johnny Cash tribute in October.

So really, what’s the difference? Why does the audience care?

Here are what we see as vital differences, and they reside mostly with who makes the decisions. The renter determines their ticket prices, show time, and content. Usually Horizon Stage does not sell tickets for the school or dance shows, so those transactions happen completely separately, making it pretty easy to tell that it’s not our show. For the others, even when Horizon Stage is selling their tickets, the rental shows are not included with our Season shows for discounts or packages. We don’t set the policies around refunds or exchanges, which are usually not offered, and the renters are responsible for their own advertising. This is a big one, because we often get asked why it’s not in our brochure. We support our renters by putting their information on our website in the performance calendar, and we try to alert the ticket-buying public to the fact that it is a renter, by colour-coding the entry. As well, we display their posters at the City Hall Ticket Center and at the theatre.

The renter also chooses what happens in the lobby before the show. Sometimes they choose to run a full slate of bar, concession, coat check, and merchandise. Sometimes they keep it simpler and don’t have those options. Again, it completely depends on the renter and what they want and are able to do. This is sometimes another way to tell whether you’re at a Horizon Stage presentation or a rental event.

What you should always have is a few friendly faces. You’ll always see at least one staff member and a couple of volunteers who will help you get to your seat and make sure you’re safe. With very few exceptions, you’ll have our crew running the lights and sound. You’ll always have the intimate feeling you get in our unique space, and we hope it’s always a good experience. We love having such a wide variety of people both on the stage and in the audience, and we’re very proud to show off our theatre. I love meeting new people and hearing them comment on how close they were to the artist, or “there’s not a bad seat in the house”, or looking for upcoming shows so they can return to the theatre.

I hope some of this information helps you when you are buying tickets or attending a show at Horizon Stage. We have some amazing renters, and are happy when they do well. A community needs to have diversity and choice, and we’re thrilled that you support all kinds of performances.

Just one quick plug before I sign off this week. The first of our Season Christmas shows start on December 1, with a family matinee from DuffleBag Theatre, Twas the Night Before Christmas at 2 p.m., then a heartwarming country evening with Amero Little Christmas at 7:30. Tickets are going fast for both of these, so don’t wait until the calendar turns over or you’ll miss them.

Looking forward to seeing you at the theatre soon!

-Brandi Watson, Theatre Manager

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