Family Entertainment: The generation game
Chair: Christoph Scholz, Semmel Concerts (DE)
Michel Boersma, Live Nation Dubai
Jill Bryant, Dinosaurs in the Wild (UK)
Alex Rabens, WME New York (US)
Petr Suchánek, JVS (CZ)
Toby Tumarkin, IMG Artists (US)
ILMC 29’s final panel saw Scholz appeal to any delegates who represent family shows or non-traditional products to speak up and introduce themselves to the room, and let others know how to contact them.
He then revealed that his single memory from his very first ILMC (in 1999) was of the ice-cream break, sponsored by Feld – his sole reason for attending ILMC each year since.
With the circuses leaving town, he quizzed the panel on what form of entertainment would replace them. Bryant said she believes dinosaurs would fill in the hole, while Boersma contended that the circus has evolved over the year to include the likes of Monster Jam, dino shows and everything else in the market today.
Armstrong admitted it was a painful process to see Feld’s circuses close. “It’s a brand that has been around for nearly 150 years so it’s more of a celebration between now and May.” He revealed that the brands still offer opportunities and that discussions are underway to explore new avenues for both Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey.
Armstrong said that adopting new technology to refresh shows and engage new generations was key to long-term success and said drones and the likes could be incorporated into new productions.
Suchanek reported that his company’s ‘Cosmos Discovery’ exhibition was the first show ever from a central European country to tour internationally. He said that the company had an international team to select the artefacts involved in the exhibition and that getting those items from the USA to Europe had been a major task. “We had to find a really big plane,” he reported.
As one of the originators of ‘Walking With Dinosaurs,’ Bryant said that the fact the creatures were ‘real’ perhaps explains the popularity of such shows, and with scientists discovering more about dinosaurs all the time, the exhibits are continually being updated and redesigned.
“We see ‘Dinosaurs in the Wild’ as a new genre – we take the audience expectations and try to deliver something more than that, but with museum accuracy,” she told Scholz.
Tumarkin spoke of his company’s Birdland experience, which revolves around the concept of the famous New York jazz club. The company, he said, also represents a number of dance troops, classical-music- and film-based projects on its roster.
Boersma said that when Live Nation asked him to join the company in Dubai they explained that the family entertainment division could be off the radar and develop projects in a way that might not have been possible had they set up in say London or New York. He revealed details of a theatrical show in Saudi Arabia where, for the first time, men and women were allowed to sit together, while he also managed to persuade the government to allow the use of female performers. “People not being able to drive is not the biggest problem in that country,” he said. “This is small, but it is a good first step.”
The panellists highlighted the importance of newspaper show reviews in the success of marketing their productions and that they remain as crucial as ever.
Rabens, however, said he was much more interested in Selena Gomez Snapchatting that she was at the Harry Potter show than any kind of coverage in the ‘LA Times.’ He explained that he previously worked at Columbia Artist Management and had started chasing symphonies to undertake film score shows. Now heading WME’s non-traditional entertainment unit, he revealed that they have just announced the ‘La La Land’ symphony tour – the fastest ever film-related production, given that the movie is still in cinemas.