“The question is, are there those in power in this city who are grateful for the decades of growth which the shows have provided this community and who want to help the shows recover in a protected and logical way, preserving that special and important element that has made Branson unique?” asked Sheila Dutton in her letter to the editor, published in the Dec. 7-8 edition of this paper. It was entitled “Outlook for Branson shows bright if we all work together.”
Among other things she said “This is the right thing, and to us the most reasonable thing, to do. If this is done according to sound economic principles, the show market will recover and flourish, once again creating a greater percentage of revenue for the city.”
“But instead, if the shows are thrown under the bus, in an effort to falsely congratulate and support the growth of other sectors, sectors which are common to most other locations in the country, we stand in danger of unwisely depreciating this unique element…” she continued., Offering her assistance she said, “If desired, we can help the City and the CVB to obtain the services and analysis of some of the best economists in the country to obtain a much more balanced insight to all of the economic forces in play, which have caused the observed results. This, coupled with Jerry Henry’s work, would give us a much more accurate picture…” She concluded by expressing her high hopes for 2017 saying, “I am optimistic about 2017. Indicators lead me to believe that we will have our best year ever.”
At a special meeting of the Branson Board of Aldermen held on Dec. 8, during the discussion of the renewal of the marketing contract between the city and the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB (CVB), Jeff Seifried, President and Chief Executive Officer of the CVB acknowledged Dutton’s letter and expressed his desire to take advantage of her offer. He made the comment amid requests by The Branson League of Theatre Owners & Show Producers (League) and others for a “Blue Ribbon Task Force” during the contract discussion.
In an email entitled, “Working Together is Key to Finding Answers” Seifried said, “After reading a series of articles this week concerning our efforts related to marketing, as Sheila Dutton explained, one thing is clear, we must work together to understand what is driving changes in the show industry in Branson. Even though sales tax records indicate that the health of the show industry is improving year over year, this does not tell the whole story.” To that an Ole Seagull, especially when he sees a 28.0% year to year drop in the 55 plus age category, so vital to our shows, at the same time there is an increase of 65.7% in the 18 to 54 age category that is more likely not to go to shows, just has to say, “If ever there is a truth that is it!”
“Ok Seagull, that’s the truth and one of the reasons the League has been pushing for the Blue Ribbon Task Force, what’s changed?” An Ole Seagull would have to say, based on the reactions of the CVB Board as well, as the Branson Board of Alderman, as reported on the public record, that those efforts have been less than successful. They appear more centered getting the Task Force and other things rather than establish meaningful communication to solve the problem, leaving the shows with the reality that the current marketing program will continue with its devastating consequences for Branson’s shows.
Seifried continues, “Can the Chamber/CVB do better? Always, no one is perfect. Do we want input from the show industry? Yes, it can only make us stronger. Bottom line, we must work together to address the current and future health of the show industry in Branson. I accept the help offered by Sheila Dutton in her letter to the editor on Tuesday and our organization will support her however we can.” Is it a Blue Ribbon Task Force? No, but it is the chance, right now, to establish some meaningful communication that has the potential to establish a new marketing reality for the shows that can more effectively and efficiently respond to their marketing needs.
“Seagull last week you opined that each show should ask themselves, if the best expenditure of their time, effort, and money was “fighting to try to change the system under these circumstances or investing it to produce the best show possible, with the flexibility to entertain the changing demographics, and market it efficiently. How does that change?” If the marketing reality changes then all that’s left is to do the same thing that every successful Branson show has done since day one, “invest their time, effort, and money to produce the best show possible, with the flexibility to entertain the changing demographics, and market it efficiently.”