Whirlwind Tour Business Debrief

In Japan, I have progressed a great deal on the corporate and government angles, but there is little more I can do there until we have a final video and product to show to them.  However, there are other places to look for support for out project and I have just wrapped up a week-long trip in North America.  It was an expensive trip, but to be honest, I feel that the information that was gained and the support that we have garnered was well worth the cost.  In summary, I am ready to continue to the next step of tour pre-production in Tokyo starting next week.  Basically, mission accomplished.

USA

Three organizations have stated their support and intent to help us bring our project to the Midwest by applying for grants, providing venues, promoting us as part of their season, and providing us with local audiences.  They also have extensive contacts with local corporations such as 3M, the Target chain of retail stores, and others who have teamed up as corporate sponsors for these arts organizations in the past.

They are very excited with how this project sounds on paper, and after my 20-minute presentation was completed, they had a lot of questions about our reasons for doing this project, and vocally expressed their excitement that such projects were taking shape in Asia.  I think that in the US, there is a real interest in being the first organization to present contemporary, cool work from the Asian sphere.  They were particularly sold on the idea of integrating multi-media into a traditional art form, as well as adding acrobatics to physical theater, and creating a visual, image-based production that is not script-based.

Of course, all of this interest is pending a viewing and approval of the final product and production budget.  One organization has already offered to come to Taipei to see our production’s premiere.  The organizations have requested that we not use their names publicly until they have been able to officially state their interest and support of the project upon seeing our premiere, and I have also told them that until that time, I will contact them only on a need-to-know basis as they are very busy developing their own work at this time.  Given that the Americans are very interested in seeing video of the creation process, primarily to see if the show is shaping up to be something they want to push as a flagship show for national touring.  I proposed that we include in the budget either rental or purchase of a GOOD video camera and editing system, or else to budget for the services of a videographer who could do it all for us in order to send really good quality footage to these theaters.

Personally, I think that if we might be able to secure Taiwanese corporate sponsors based on this unofficial support from the Minneapolis side, it would fuel our Minneapolis sponsor’s interest, and vice-versa.

To further sweeten the deal, one theater is part of a nation-wide collection of theaters that are particularly interested in promoting international performances in the United States, and they have suggested the possibility of plugging us into that network for a nationwide tour.  I do not want to be overly optimistic, but in my opinion, a stop in Minnesota is practically guaranteed if we make half as good a show as we are expecting.

I should tell you that Minneapolis is the closest city to a USA Montreal in terms of support for the arts, so I am very, very optimistic that with the theater (that recently won a Tony award and is considered the best contemporary theater in the nation) and this circus school (annual budget in the millions, connections with Cirque du Soleil in the works) cowriting a grant with us, we WILL be performing in Minneapolis on the 2007-2008 season.

And, I have a very good feeling that with this news, Boston will be even more interested in bringing us to their market.  The great thing is that if Minneapolis works, we will be able to treat it as a showcase for the fat cat agents who never leave the USA but have pockets overflowing with money.

The next step is to strategize with The Rocker’s Taiwanese producers to start a US grant-writing research binge together if this is a direction they are interested in going.  My plan of action for the next three months is to research grant opportunities at the municipal, state, and federal level in the USA for bringing in foreign performing arts, and to determine an official touring budget to present to our partners in the USA.

Canada

After talking with the SAT in Montreal, I have decided to begin speaking with the Canadian Embassy and other NGO’s in Canada and Japan to see what interest they might have in using our show as a flagship of modern Canadian technological and theater arts.  The problem I have run into on the Japanese side is that Taiwan is not recognized by the Japanese government, and thus, promoting the show as Taiwanese is very sensitive.  Now that we are able to promote it as the result of a Canadian creative collaboration that employs Taiwanese artists, many more channels are open to us.  On the Japan side, I will start by contacting the Canadian Embassy and Canadian/Japanese Arts organizations, and then begin speaking with Japanese Theaters the way that other Canadian arts organizations do.

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