When Victoria Bailey took over as leader of the non-profit Theater Development Fund in 2001, she said the organization’s flagship program, the TKTS discount ticket office, had not missed a single day in its nearly 30 years of operation. was broken.
that’s all. A few months after she took the position, the booth was closed due to her terrorist attacks on 9/11 and has since been shut down by blackouts, hurricanes, strikes and pandemics.
It’s been a tumultuous 22 years for Bailey. And on Friday, when she turns 67, she will step down as the organization’s executive director. The group has sold 615,000 tickets at the TKTS booth this year and is working to make theaters more accessible. Students, veterans, and people with disabilities, as well as anyone who finds ticket prices exorbitant.
Bailey, who was awarded a Tony Award for Outstanding Performance in Theater earlier this month in recognition of her contributions to the industry, will be replaced on August 7 by Diksha Gaur, co-founder of theater review platform ShowScore. do.
In an interview at the office, Bailey, better known as Tory, reflected on the current state of the theater industry. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
How’s it going on Broadway?
Broadway is back. I have an audience. I don’t think it is as reliably robust as we would like. What we lack are suburban audiences and Chinese tourists. There are so many different jobs out there right now, and there are so many different voices on stage. How to attract viewers for that, how to increase viewers for that? It’s time to be very careful. I don’t think you can say “everything is fine” without doing anything.
The final big event was the 50th anniversary celebration of the TKTS booth in Times Square. What is its significance?
There are so many people who can’t afford full price tickets. If you’re a New Yorker and an avid theater fan, there are plenty of ways to get discounted tickets. Booth is just one of many booths and it’s up to you to use it or not. But for tourists who don’t go to the theater often, or who aren’t familiar with the inside, it’s the only way to find out.
One of the most visible changes during your time was the construction of the red staircase above the booth where many people now gather.
It’s a real theatrical gathering place in the middle of Times Square. I love to stand there and watch people sitting on the steps. That alone makes me happy.
What do you think of the situation in Times Square?
Times Square itself is pretty nice. Eighth Avenue is still a little rougher than it was pre-pandemic. Times Square’s problem is a problem for office workers as a whole. People sit at desks two to three days a week, which is a major challenge for any Times Square business that relies on office workers.
What impact will it have on the theater industry?
One of the factors driving ticket purchases is word of mouth. When you’re on Zoom, have a meeting and you’re done. You’re having coffee in the office and someone says to you, “I saw a great show last night.” I think you’ll like it. ” I don’t think the same thing is happening now. Casual exchange of information between people is declining.
TDF has a program to make theater more accessible to people with hearing, vision, and movement disabilities, and you introduced autism-friendly performances during your tenure.
There was an unfortunate incident in the West End where a mother with a Spectrum child came in and was asked to evict, and it got a lot of attention. talked about it. Disney partnered with them on The Lion King because they were so far ahead in understanding the needs of such people thanks to their theme parks. We will buy the house at a big discount, so you can sell it at a bargain price. Everyone there understands that there will be noise and people going up and down and we are creating a safe space for our families. I did it once and everyone just cried. And now we go five times a year. We did “Wicked,” we did “Harry Potter,” and a few weeks ago we did “Six.” And last year, for the first time, we performed The Nutcracker with the New York City Ballet.
We have also started selling tickets for veterans.
It was thought, and still is thought, that these people could benefit from going to the theater together. It is presumptuous to say that theater is healing. I’m not going to say who needs healing, but going to the theater together is an enriching activity.