Gina Argento of Broadway Stages in New York is a film and production industry leader, headquartered in Brooklyn. In the following article, Gina Argento discusses the performing arts trends changing the industry.
The performing arts are alive and well in the 21st century. From the pop culture phenomenon of Hamilton to viewers’ demands for streaming Broadway shows during the pandemic, it feels like more people than ever are investing in drama, dance, and music.
This dynamic industry is going through some changes though. According to a RAND report, some of the biggest changes in the performing arts are affecting the nonprofit theater sector, although commercial performing arts like Broadway are also seeing some new things happening. Gina Argento of Broadway Stages in New York will look at some of the trends in performing arts.
There has been an increase in performing arts viewership and this is partially due to the pandemic. Many theaters, both nonprofits and commercial, have started offering more recorded performances due to many stay-at-home orders across the United States. Because of this, overall viewers have increased since virtual performances have been added to the mix.
Gina Argento of Broadway Stages in New York explains that people are more likely to gravitate toward home-based leisure activities and have grown comfortable with recreating in the comfort of their living room. Gen Z is of the age where they are seeking out entertainment and most of them do not mind consuming the performing arts via the internet or some other virtual medium.
RAND found that quite a few midsized nonprofit theater organizations were struggling to earn enough revenue to cover costs, so virtual performances are making more sense as an easier way to cut costs explains Gina Argento of Broadway Stages in New York.
Diversity in Artists
Another trend in the performing arts has been an increase in diversity and inclusion. The racial reckoning with 2020’s protests over George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement has shown there is a need for information and education, both of which have inspired countless artists of color explains Gina Argento of Broadway Stages in New York.
Asian artists have also increased their involvement in the performing arts, especially with the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes due to COVID. With more marginalized groups getting their art out there, it is showing viewers of the performing arts that there is something for them and it should not just be a white space.
In terms of the overall number of artists, Gina Argento of Broadway Stages in New York says that the performing arts are seeing a rise in general, specifically with amateur artists. This is due mainly to technological advances, such as social media and more affordable recording equipment. Think of the people who became famous on TikTok “just because.”
Sadly, Gina Argento of Broadway Stages in New York says that most amateur artists do not make it big and the trend is that the performing arts are skewed toward a select few. Marketers deem them “the best” and others will try to copy their style and creativity; they are likely to fail but will continue to feel hopeful and inspired that they will one day “make it.”
There has been an increase in both nonprofit and commercial performing arts organizations in the later part of the 20th century and the trend seems to be continuing into the 21st century, although the nonprofits tend to be quite small and rely heavily on volunteer participation.
There is also a proliferation of building more performing arts spaces, although this may be on the way out due to the pandemic. Despite this, Gina Argento of Broadway Stages in New York says that there appear to be a number of tax-exempt organizations that can depend on government support or grants.
More live performing arts are also partnering up or combining with the recording and broadcasting industries. As mentioned before, there is a higher demand for virtual performances, so this is beneficial for all parties.
Trends in Finances
When it comes to performing arts revenue, there are three ways that organizations are making money: earned income (e.g., ticket sales), philanthropic contributions (e.g., individuals or businesses donating), and direct government subsidies.
Gina Argento of Broadway Stages in New York says that trends have shown that revenue has remained steady in the 21st century, despite many reports that have talked about the empty seats in theaters. This is due in part to local and state government subsidies (rather than federal, which has been cut) and an increase in private contributions.
Additionally, Gina Argento of Broadway Stages in New York says that many performing arts organizations have multiple strategies for increasing their dollars. Large nonprofits, for example, are relying more on star-studded blockbuster productions to bring in viewers, whereas mid-sized nonprofits are using “warhorse” programming, meaning they show traditional shows beloved by general audiences.
The smallest organizations have made a name for themselves in niche markets, such as opera or other specific genres.