As a non-contracted, bottom of the rung, dim office, nil regular income, run of the mill freelance artist it's really fucking hard to make enough money to sustain your art. So when you do manage to make a bit of money, pull a show together, scrabble a small community of friends/pros, and get enthusiastic about a project, it really doesn't help when you cannot get a-hold of anyone who might be able to help you get the work seen. In this context, I'm talking about the Venue Heads. The Programmers, The Arts Officers, The Venue Directors, The Head Honchos... though they may all feel like a mythical beasts.
The usual occurrence is this: You find a venue you like. You go onto the website. You find the 'contact' button, and you click on it. Suddenly it takes you to a new page where you find the boxoffice email address... and nothing more. You search on in vein, day becomes night, and your fingertips bleed, but still your spurred on by the thought that there must be more email addresses somewhere! Surely, you think, there must be an easy way for artists to contact key holders?! ISN'T THERE?! ISSSN't THERRRE?
No. No there is not. But I have found a way. Follow me now, and I will show you how.
FIVE HACKS TO CONTACT HEAD HONCHOS
(you should probably only actually use three of these, you decide which for yourself)
1. THE @ LINE SWITCH
Using the boxoffice email address you find on the contact page, copy and past the address including the @. Then what you're gunna need to do is find out the name of the person at the venue you want to make contact with, this can be done in many ways. The easiest is to find a MEET THE TEAM section on the website. If this fails, go deep. Like, five-cans-of-beer-what-does-my-highschool-boyfriend-do-with-his-summers-Facebook-at-midnight deep. It's likely at some point somewhere on social media the venue has tagged or mentioned it's leader. Now you've got a name, you can start nailing some permutations. Most orgs will use the same basic way of assigning staff their emails, just follow these examples, one of them is bound to be right:
Programmer; Sheryl Hill.
Don't send the emails one by one, but all at once. Bombard.
2. TWITTER THEM
I sometimes think of Twitter as a bit of a dead platform, but apparently it's not. Apparently it's fucking buzzing. Especially in this context. I've heard so many stories of people being connected through Twitter, as well as having been approached by potential opportunities myself. So here's what I recon is a good ploy:
Post all the best stuff you got so the top of your Twitter feed is beefy with awesome.
@metion each venue and programmer one by one with a relevant image/bit of blurb/video. I don't think anyone likes being one of the bulk. State that your looking for venues to tour your work to.
Never be scared to slide into there DM's.
3. PRETEND TO BE THEIR DOCTOR
Most venue websites will give you a boxoffice number, and most of the time that won't be connected to the general office, but 9/10 times boxoffice can connect you or at least give you a direct number. So here's what you do...
THIS IS YOUR DR CALLING:
Call the box office and claim to be the Head Honcho's Doctor. Say you have had their test results back and the diagnoses needs to be shared with them urgently (in fact, maybe imply it's so urgent that they shouldn't actually me in a contained room with other people when "the explosion" happens). Ask to be put through immediately, or given a better number as the one you have is ringing out. Once they've connected you you need to immediately drop the act. In fact, put on an accent as the Dr and then loose it right away. All that's left to do is just vehemently deny any knowledge, and then lean into the whole "but while I've got you on the phone, could I have a few minutes of your time".
Alternative ruse: Pizza Delivery Person. Plot twist: The Pizza Box is filled with all your show info.
4. THROW A BIRD AT THEIR WINDOW
Throw a bird at their window. Claim it was Twitter misunderstanding. Then slide into the whole "but while I've got you furiously leaning out of your blood and feather stained window, could I have a few minutes of your time".
5. WALK IN
Fuck it. Go rogue. Walk in there with a good looking portfolio slung under your arm and tell them you want a meeting. Be present. Be persistent. We have to do something to show that we're here ready and waiting, and that we need help. I've done it once before, and it actually worked out pretty well, because there is a reason I'm writing this. It really feels like these are the same problems I have been experiencing for the last ten years, and so I think we need change. Venues need artists more than artists need venues, and if we're going to see art, artists and audiences thrive we all need to communicate better.
So I've got one more bit of advice:
VENUE HEADS: PUT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS ON YOUR WEBSITES RIGHT NOW.
*An accurate representation of how old I will be when the people I've emailed get back to me.