When theater veteran Victoria Bailey took over the Theatre Development Fund in 2001, she immediately set to work to open a TKTS booth in Downtown Brooklyn. And when the booth opened on July 10, the accomplishment was both professional and personal: Bailey, who has been involved in theater management for nearly 30 years, has lived in the borough since 1981. This week, she checked in with The Brooklyn Paper’s Sarah Portlock and told her that having a TKTS in Brooklyn for the first time since 1993 is as much about bringing Broadway to Brooklyn as it is promoting the local performing arts community.
Brooklyn Paper: Why Brooklyn? How is this booth different from the one in the early 1990s?
Victoria Bailey: Brooklyn has changed so much in the last 10 or 15 years. There’s such burgeoning Downtown center that it seemed an opportune moment. Look at what’s happened Downtown: it is Metrotech; it is all the hotels; it is all of those apartment buildings that are getting built up. The difference for us is if you have a whole lot of people who are in the area Downtown during the day working, going out and about — that is, a ticket buying population — you can grab that and say, “Hey, come look at this.”
BP: Is there a market for a TKTS booth in Brooklyn? How will you build a viable theatergoing public?
VB: A lot of it has to do with being there. Being in Metrotech, we become a part of the fabric of day-to-day life. I want to work with the companies and find ways to help people know more about what we’re selling. That way, your building audiences is letting people know the opportunity is there and letting people understand what the various options are, how it works, when the tickets are on sale.
BP: One of the biggest differences from its Manhattan counterparts is that this TKTS booth will offer tickets to Brooklyn-based performing arts venues. How did that idea arise and why is that important?
VB: People have come together and coalesced and related to an artistic community and a destination point [in Brooklyn]. There’s much more of a business community. There’s a much more robust ticket-buying residential population. And there’s a community of artists that has a brand. There’s just a whole lot of stuff that wasn’t in the dialogue 15 years ago. It’s really exciting to think of ways to work with the local performing arts groups because that’s reminding people that not only does theater exist in Midtown, but arts are all over and they’re in your community. Now that we’re there, the next step is to sit down with arts groups and say, OK, what are, specifically, the best ways we can help you?
BP: With the sour economy, do you think people will still want to go to the theater?
VB: It’s really tricky. When the economy is tough, people are much more sensitive to prices, [and] providing a mechanism for people to go to the theater that costs less than full price would suggest that it’s a very strong time to be opening a booth. If you reached the point where people are really getting rid of disposable income all together, maybe it will be a harder proposition. The mythology is that recessions are good for entertainment because people can’t go anywhere, so if you’re vacationing at home, you’re more likely to do stuff like go to theater.
TKTS booth (in Metrotech at Jay Street and the Myrtle Avenue promenade) offers same-day evening and next-day matinee tickets for Broadway and off-Broadway shows at discounts of up to 50 percent. The booth is open Monday through Friday, 11 am to 6 pm.