Snow business like show business

January 8, 2010
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As the TV weatherfolks built drama for the FIRST BIG STORM OF 2010, I checked my e-mail box Thursday morning and found that the opening of the Emily Kennerk gallery show at Christopher West Presents on Mass Ave. had been postponed a day. "Stay safe and warm" stated the friendly note.

So much for the planned first stop on my Thursday evening.

To make sure that part II was still in place, I called Dance Kaleidoscope and found out that, yes, there would be a performance.

Turns out the highways were clear and the downtown roads were very manageable. I even got a street parking spot just an intersection away from the Indiana Repertory Theatre.

The orchestra section seemed about half-full, but that's not surprising for a winter Thursday. But I checked with Jan Virgin, DK"s executive director and found out that, for the evening show, 205 people either canceled or exchanged tickets. Things were rougher for the matinee, which lost 129 of 228 patrons, understandable since that included five retirement and nursing homes and five school groups.

What is surprising, at least to me, is how little is said about the impact of the over-dramatization of the weather conditions on arts and entertainment groups.

This week, for instance, a new group is opening a show at the Indy Fringe, Theatre on the Square launches a local premiere, the aforementioned Emily Kennerk show is opening, Beef and Boards officially opens its winter comedy, the ISO offers Tchaikovsky, and much more. The artists themselves don't seem to be afraid of a little snow. They understand that, in most cases, you just need to put away the cell phone, keep both hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road, and allow for a little more driving time.

The patrons, though, seem to be more reactive. I'm guessing many potential audience members will be on the fence about going out this weekend not because of the actual conditions but because of the hype.

So are we just cautious or are we wimps when it comes to Indiana weather?

Your thoughts?




  • anything can happen
    See, this is why I love your blog, Lou: you articulate topics and questions that are just fuzzy thoughts in my head.

    If weather and road conditions are truly dangerous, then yes, of course, people should stay home.


    Last night after work it took me a good fifteen minutes to clear the snow off my car and de-ice my windows...but all anecodotal reports from customers had been that the roads weren't bad, so I thought, "Why shouldn't I go ahead and go to Beef and Boards?"

    No reason.

    I went, and I had a great time, as did everyone else who was there, I imagine. (I'll post my review of "The Foreigner" on my own blog later this weekend.)

    However, it was the smallest audience that I had ever seen at B&B. I wondered if that was usual for the first Thursday night of a run, or if the weather had made this particular audience smaller than usual.

    Director Eddie Curry came over at intermission to "not-schmooze" me, but we got to talking about the show and I forgot to ask him about the effects of the weather on the box office.

    After the show I drove home, mentally preparing myself to shovel my driveway by starlight so that I could get my car off the narrowly-cleared street...and I found that some ANGEL had shoveled my driveway for me!

    So the moral of my story is: when in doubt, don't be a wimp - go to the theatre!

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit
  • PS
    PS - And if you figure out who your angels were, invite them to go with you to the theatre next time!

    P2S2 - I know I didn't really answer your discussion prompt, Lou, but thanks for letting me tell my snow day theatre story anyway.

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit
  • RE: Wimps
    Indiana+January= Snow! nothing new here to this state. In this day and age with technology to make our lives easier and more efficient, most people would rather sit at home all day than leave 20 minutes earlier so they can drive at a safe speed. TV is just hyping "winter weather" to keep people in front of the TV all day (after all we are in a ratings period)
  • Count the syllables
    Free TV must have consumers' eyeballs for its commercials. Overdramatization spurs ratings which drive what can be charged for ads. Entertainment trumps news almost every time, even weather news. Count the number of syllables in local TV stations' name for their radars. The more syllables...

    Snow is relative to location. A flurry in Washington paralyzes our nation's capital. Several inches over time in St.Paul is just another winter day.

    My wife and I are going to ISO, but dressing more warmly than usual.
  • Weary of Drama
    You are so correct, that the weather is so often over-dramatized here! As Jen said, we should be used to the snow and rain here, but every time a storm is brewing, weathercasters act like its the first ever...for ratings, true...and that gets everybody riled up. I'm know museums, restaurants and malls also notice the effect of this fear-generation. Come on, Hoosiers! Buck up and realize this is old hat to us and that's why we drive 4-wheel drive SUV's and we're leaders in pick-up truck-ownership!
  • Safety First
    I think it's all relevant to the individual's comfort level with the weather and his/her ability to be transported in such weather conditions.

    I certainly hope you're not calling the nursing home facilities wimps for risking the lives of many in buses.

    Let's not forget our city/state has had it's fair share of issues with street cleaning and plowing. Even those living in Center township can be pratically paralyzed in their streets b/c of how slowly we plow secondary streets in the city.

    And let's talk about this assumption that because one has 4-wheel drive they can drive as fast as they want b/c they can get "traction". Let me tell you, as the child of a state trooper, nobody makes a perfect stop on ice. NOBODY!

    To get back to the bigger picture. Let's not forget the aging issue of Indianapolis arts organizations. It's not surprising to see low attendance at certain arts performances.

    I'd rather people be cautious and stay home then risk their own lives and the lives of others when on the roads.

    Enough said...
    • Leftover wish for snow days
      I'm not sure that part of this isn't ingrained in us as small children. I wonder at the number of grown adults that seem to equate a little snow to a fervent wish for a "snow day".

      As a business owner, I must have gotten 20 calls/requests to leave early yesterday to miss all the trafffic. For anyone that stayed, they found the roads clear and traffic just slightly slower than normal.

      Does the snow make us yearn for our younger years when we could stay home, play in the snow and feel like Mother Nature just gave us an excuse to pretend we're 15 not 50?
    • ice, ice baby
      Thanks for contributing to the conversation.
      To clarify, in the original post I said it was "understandable" that senior citizen groups cancelled.
    • snow exploitation
      I blame TV news. They start hyping a snowfall when it's several states away and far from a certainty, and they make nearly every storm sound like Armageddon. It's as if weather is broadcast news' Britney Spears: always newsworthy, no matter how little it's really doing.
    • Weather Personalities
      And that is your answer. The over dramatization of weather is a direct result of news weather folks to prop themselves up to become a local celebrity. CAn you really talk about snow for 2 1/2 hours? No. Makes me dislike them just for this reason.
    • Chicago Transplant
      I remember after moving here from chicago 10 years ago thinking just how ridiculous the local news acts when it snows. You'd think snow was a new thing. This city shuts down at the prospect of 6 inches of snow!
    • upon reflection, 3 other comments
      1. I don't have TV service so the media's over-dramatization does not affect me, but over New Year's I had four days off in a row from my day job. I confess that if I had been able to work from home starting on January 4 and going until spring, I would have, because it was so painfully cold outside and I was so cozy where I was.

      I also admit that if I am home when temperatures plummet or when it starts to snow heavily, I would rather stay home and read for fun. This is what I do if I haven't already promised to see and blog about a show somewhere.

      So I guess I am actually a wimp. Huh.

      2. By the way, I wonder how arts organizations that are already strapped for funds cope with the increased facility maintenance costs of below-freezing temperatures and winter storms.

      I keep the cabinet doors open under my sinks in temperatures like this, and keep a tiny trickle of water going from the faucets, in hopes of keeping my house's ancient pipes from freezing and bursting. This is wasteful, I know, but more than one home inspector has advised me to do it, so I do. Can arts organizations in old buildings afford to do this?

      And who shovels the walks for an all-volunteer theatre?

      3. I love being safe and warm at home but still...there is something truly warming about hearing a good story told by live storytellers in the company of several other people on a cold winter's night - whether the storytellers are oral tradition tellers, or theatre artists, or musicians, or dancers, or whatever.

      Hope Baugh
      Indy Theatre Habit

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