The State of the Entertainment

My fellow Tucsonites, Tucsonans, Snow Birds, and Tourists of the mighty City of Tucson.  The roll of VaudVil is to provide the people of Tucson with a source for all things entertainment.  I do not mean entertainment in general.  I refer specifically to local entertainment exclusive to Tucson.  National tours will travel through, but they have the budget to gain the publicity they need to make a successful show.  Local Tucson performers do not have this kind of cash on hand and these are the people VaudVil hopes to help.

My goal has always been to help local performance artists.  I started trying to produce shows featuring local performers, giving them a space to perform and paying them for their efforts.  Unfortunately, the cost/profit ratio was too high.  I do not mean to say that I could not get rich from producing shows.  I thought, in the beginning, I could at least break even with losses and gains, but there were little gains to be had.  Starting something new requires many years of consistent work and I did not have the funds to sustain this work long enough to start gaining profits.  This offered me the opportunity to make mistakes and learn without losing absurd amounts of money.

There has been one problem which has remained constant throughout all the years I have pursued this career in Tucson.  Finding a venue.  Tucson has many venues looking for talent for events they host.  However, if you are not a live band or a DJ, many of these venues have no interest in you.  Some musicians are able to find steady work, playing in three or four different bands, but never enough to quit their day job.  Tucson has proven itself to be a music town.  On any given night, one can find a place featuring live music of one type or another.  But what about performers who are not musicians?

There are a handful of venues that feature something other than live music, such as; burlesque, drag queens/kings, live comedy, and even theatre.  I am referring to strictly local entertainment.  There are many live theatre companies that share one venue for their seasons.  This idea could help solve some of the venue issues, but many of these venues require one to rent the space and this can add to the overall cost of producing a show. Some groups can be slightly stingy with whom they offer their space.  Many spaces attempt to acquire liquor licenses as another way to increase audience attendance.

Will this become the new business model?  Will live theater venues move to selling food and alcohol along with the show production? The venue issue will never be addressed until audience attendance increases.  Having more venues won’t increase ticket sales for a show.  The first issue performers must address involves increasing attendance; an issue many performers have struggled with for years. Not everyone has the funds to market and advertise their events.  How can we as a community deal with this initial problem?  First, we all must work together and support each other as a community.

This sounds obvious, does it not?  When I mention this to, well anyone, they agree and consider it the best idea in the world of ideas.  In practice, few follow through.  People get caught up with the superficial and lose sight of the bigger picture.  How can you support your community?  Promote shows other than your own.  Like, comment, and share posts.  Go see a show and write a review.  Even just two sentences can have an impact.  If you have disputes or complaints about another performer, settle them in private.  The whole world does not need to know your business.  Those who advertise their complaints are not mature enough to hang out with the other adults.

If everyone is promoting and help each other, the costs for marketing will decrease.  Costs for marketing will always be there, but lower costs mean greater profits for everyone.  Imagine a world where the performers AND the show producers are making money for every show.  Lowering costs also means lowering ticket prices.  This might sound counterproductive, but folks in Tucson are cheap.  Anything over $10 will make people squeamish.  Our goal should be to increase attendance not profits. If more people are going to all the shows, the profits will come.  It always takes time.  Time meaning years.

It will take years to develop the entertainment industry in Tucson.  Tucson’s officials are dealing with the transition from city to metropolis; a slow-moving process.  The overall population of the Tucson city limits is over half a million people.  If you include the surrounding cities of Marana, Oro Valley, and South Tucson, the population is over 1 million people. Tucson is already a metropolis, but it does not know it yet.  The city has grown faster than the residents want it to.  Ultimately, we have to accept this and adapt.  How will this be advantageous to the entertainment industry?

First, I want to see more people promoting other shows and not just the ones in which they are performing. We must strengthen the entertainment community and make it more of a community where everyone feels included and welcome.  I want to see more events at places that might seem unlikely to be a performance venue. If we cannot make new venues, we will convert other places into venues.  I want to see more people reviewing local shows.  These shows do not always get press and a little press can go a long way. I would like to use VaudVil for this, but I cannot always attend shows.

Those three things, I think, will be enough to organize the community over the next year.  We can focus on other obstacles in coming years. For now, let us come together and organize.  If we pull every resource we have and put them all together, we will be unstoppable. Let us make the world a better place with one small act at a time.  What you throw out into the world will come back to you.  Through all this, remember the four core values of VaudVil; Passion, Adventure, Collaboration, and Kindness.

James Pack is the managing owner of VaudVil and a self-published author of poetry and fiction. Information about his publishing credits can be found on his personal blog  He resides in Tucson, AZ.

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