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National Geographic Live! Will Surprise Our Exhibitors, Filmmakers (Part 2)

Ralph Franklin Posted by Ralph Franklin in Features March 8th, 2013

By Ralph Franklin

The National Geographic Live flier first sparked my research, disclosing how the Society had put together four road shows comprised of filmmakers, photographers and scientists to appear in 20 North America cities, plus Sydney, Australia, and Stockholm, Sweden.

The cities selected were mostly major ones with an excellent performing arts centers and a concert associations. In Toronto, it is the beautiful Roy Thompson Hall, a 2,630-seat facility. In Seattle, it is the Benaroya Hall, which is divided into two facilities: the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, with 2,481 seats, and the Illsley Ball and Nordstrom Recital Hall with 536 seats.
The Society is using the same formula for producing these shows as the Hollywood Walk of Fame man, filmmaker, lecturer and entrepreneur Burton Holmes: Top talent, an excellent location, well planned promotional campaign and proper ticket pricing.
National Geographic Society Administration Building, Washington, DC
I was on the phone with Andrew Pudvah, manager of the NG’s Speakers Bureau Events and learned that one of their film speakers was appearing at Campbell Hall, UCSB, Santa Barbara, California, a city with a population just under 90,000 and only 75 miles from my home in Santa Clarita.
My thought was, Could I piggyback on the Santa Barbara series and bring the four shows to Santa Clarita and if not could I bring the artist with his film? I would try for the day before or the day after the Campbell Hall performance, standard practice with many venues— which cannot always afford the initial cost of bringing an artist to their city.
The Broad Stage, Santa Monica, California
The answer to my first question was, No, even though Santa Clarita is nearly twice the size of Santa Barbara. I was also too close to Santa Monica, where the series is now appearing at The Broad Stage.
I had spoken with Chuck Liddell, manager of the Liddell Talent Management, a few days earlier. Chuck handles a number of performing artists, ranging from music to magic. I asked him what he thought the fee would be for our type (TAD) show. His answer was $2,500 to $3,000.
I then asked Mr. Pudvah, “Could I book a (NG) speaker and his film?”
The answer was Yes and he added, “His fee is $10,000, plus expenses. We would ask for a split of air and any rental car, accommodations, and $100 per diem.” He paused then said, “His standard fee is $14,000, but since he is in the U.S. already for a series of engagements, I imagine he would also accept $10,000 plus expenses.”
Mr. Pudvah’s words put me in shock, but I managed to say: I’m sorry, It is out of my budget, especially during these tight financial times.”
With a single-performer’s price in the $10,000 range, what about a single-ticket price? Are they comparable to the $7 average TAD Exhibitors charge?
You have already guessed it. The answer is No, far from it.
Again I refer to Holmes and Dick Walter: (TAD blog: Where are you Burton Holmes?

Holmes’ price for a single admission ticket in today’s dollars would run from $16 to $32. Retired showman Walter says, “Today, the single admission price for the personal appearance of artist and film should be $28, no less.”

The 20 venues now hosting NG Live! are charging $19 to $69.50 for a single admission ticket, depending on seat location.
Seating Roy Thompson Hall, Toronto, Canada
Peter Rowe,
Angry Planet producer, purchased two tickets at $157.50 to see photojournalist Catherine

narrate her Journey to Vietnam slide show at the beautiful Roy Thompson Hall, in Toronto.
Ticket prices at the Roy Thompson Hall are:
Prime floor is $69.50
Parterres and Box $59.50         
Mezzanine: $49.50
Regular $39.50 (Plus Tax & fees.)
Discount season tickets are available.
The Seattle, Washington, venue is the most profitable series with sell-out crowds. Single admission prices
Benaroya Hall, Seattle, Washington
run from $19 to $37. They are now running multiple shows, as is Toronto this season.
TAD has put the spotlight on what the Society is doing and how they are doing it. They have found a market, which is attracting young and old alike, who are buying tickets.
We would urge every TAD Exhibitor (Sponsor) to take a look at this Formula by attending one of these shows. Doing so could bring positive results in attendance and bottom line.
We also urge every TAD Filmmaker (artist) to attend at least one of these speaker/film/slide performances. We feel it will be an enlightening experience as to your potential. Locations, dates, and speaker/subject can be found at:
The NG Live performers are a talented and rare breed of artists. Part 3 of NG Live will introduce you to three such performers. You will learn their background and, in one case, be able to see and hear a photojournalist on stage before a live audience.
To be continued


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