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Working with and entertaining them. | By Philip A. Verrastro PERFORMING ARTS:

As a husband, dad, co-worker, manager, as well as a performing arts

venue operator, I have recently been increasingly intrigued with the various generational related challenges and opportunities we have now in the world. While naturally we have always had multiple generations living and working together historically, never at this diverse scale and  between the generations can sometimes feel miles apart. 

work world now - Baby Boomers (approximate age 51-70 today), Gen X (approximate age 35-50 today) and then the Millennials (approxi- mate age today 18 to 34). Full disclosure here - I’m a Gen Xer. As a whole, we are a somewhat skeptical, self-reliant, and resourceful lot that also appreciates authenticity, loyalty, problem solving, and have shaped our careers in the midst of the desktop computer and the “email is king” tech era.

Generations of your venue co-workers It is understood generations have tendencies and have experienced life-shaping occurrences that make them the generations they are, but I believe each and every person is unique. Surely, we can form some general perspectives from age, but I caution we should not make blan- ket assumptions on it. I want to share a few personal nuggets I have learned to hopefully assist you thrive alongside each generation you might work with. 1) Recognition is more than just a raise. More so than perhaps vet-

 - edgment that they are doing a good job. This need not be expensive in most cases, but rather creative and in tune with that person. Younger -   2) Listen to your teams more than you talk to them. It matters not their age on this one and by listening and actually hearing what mat- ters to them and how colleagues process and think, you will be a better co-worker, communicator and manager so long as you are willing to  3) Experience is a two-way street. How many times has the veteran manager nixed an idea based purely on what may be very old data or relevancy? However, experience in this sense if not careful can taint     times I even start to think I am not learning anything new anymore I know I am missing the boat. In the live performance event business there is little substitute for experience, but I encourage all the veter- ans to use your “experience” card wisely as it has great value to your operation if you can harness it in the spirit of a bigger wisdom when called for.

Programming for the Generations - ness models to cater to, most venues seek to have multi-faceted diverse programming at some level. It is a balancing act keeping up with the -


          overlook our most loyal audiences and what they seek most. A few tips I have tried to keep in mind about programming I wanted to at least share that could be helpful. 1) Have maybe three or four very diverse people you trust, that you do not work with and do not donate to you, that will tell you the cold hard truth on some of your programming ideas. These persons are invaluable sounding boards and market testers for you. 

they are not expecting or are outside their usual taste. However, al-   do not care for, but if the patrons who do come react negatively to the  in point: I heard a patron just the other day tell me about the worst show we ever had. It was not a show or a title people did not know - quite the opposite - everyone had heard of the title, but the distain for the show we still hear about today 20 years later was directly and only related to the unimpressive talent and lacking performance skill on the stage. Pure quality, or its lack thereof, seemingly leaves a long lasting impression.

Marketing our performances to the Generations While you can research until to heart’s content on marketing ideas to sell tickets, this is one I am sure we all debate and struggle with occa- sionally on where to spend our marketing focus. What do the varying generations pay attention to now? 

itself will drive many of these decisions, but it is no longer a one-size- - tainment interests (the boxes we put them in) and the traditional vs. digital marketing impacts across a lot of our audiences. While digital has risen above, many continue to successfully use print and traditional radio. I know of no magic formula, but I do at least recommend you communicate and build relationships with your patrons and learn how  -    based. We simultaneously also observe that while attending our shows, a fair share of Millennials are as interested in sharing their experiences on social media as they are in personally enjoying them. We need to take this information, embrace it, and consider how this insight can in turn help us understand how to better connect with them, shape our brand with them, and enhance their experiences so they will return. The same concept can be utilized for other generations as well, but the tools, methods and approach a venue marketer might use could FM

Philip A. Verrastro is the Assistant Executive Director/Theatre Director at The Classic Center in Athens, Georgia. The Center’s Theatre is a 2000+ seat PAC and is part of an overall Convention Center campus of approximately 250,000 square feet.


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