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New York Musical Theatre Festival (2011)

New York Musical Theatre Festival (2011)

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Yale School of Drama
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Isaac Hurwitz stood at the back of a crowded rehearsal studio, watching the participants of the 2011 New York Musical Theatre Festival’s Next Link Weekend file in. The twelve teams of writers, nearly thirty people altogether, represented the twelve new musicals that would be showcased in the New York Musical Theatre Festival’s Next Link Project. As the executive director and co-founder of the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), Hurwitz was always eager to meet the artists whose work would be showcased in that year’s Festival, which was just three months away.

Since it began in 2004, the Festival had become a mainstay of the fall theater scene in New York. Traditionally held in September, the Festival had been hailed as “the Sundance [Film Festival] of musical theatre.” Over the course of three weeks, dozens of new musicals were showcased, featuring a wide range of talents that included first-time writers and Broadway stars. Hurwitz and the NYMF staff spent the entire year preparing for the Festival; as soon as the current year’s festival wrapped up preparations would begin for the following year.

The Next Link Project was NYMF’s core program. Writers selected to participate would receive entrepreneurial training, networking opportunities, and dramaturgical support, all in preparation for a subsidized production as part of the Festival in September. The writers came from an eclectic mix of backgrounds: Some were trained musicians, some were playwrights, some wrote just for fun and submitted their work to NYMF on a whim. But what they had in common was that, to Hurwitz, they represented NYMF’s core constituency: unknown writers who could be bright new voices in the world of musical theater.

On the surface, everything seemed to be on track for the organization. Not only were preparations well under way for that year’s festival, but NYMF was in the middle of an exciting partnership with South Korea’s Daegu International Musical Festival. Rehearsals were currently in progress for a NYMF show that would travel to Korea for a brief engagement; in turn a Korean show would be highlighted at NYMF in the fall. This international artistic partnership was exactly the kind of collaboration that set NYMF apart from other musical theater organizations, and Hurwitz was looking forward to travelling to Korea that July as part of the exchange.

But behind the scenes, Hurwitz and his small, hardworking staff were gearing up for a major announcement. The launch of the 2011 Festival would also carry the surprising news that the 2012 New York Musical Theatre Festival would be held in July. By placing the Festival at the peak of tourist season instead of at its usual spot in September, Hurwitz would set NYMF up for what he believed to be the “single greatest strategic change” in its history.

This case contains a video.

Publication Date: 2012-05-15

Suggested Citation: Reynaldi Lolong, "New York Musical Theatre Festival (2011)," Yale Theater Management Knowledge Base Case Study #11-43, May 15, 2012

Keywords: New York, Audience, Branding, Competition, Financial Management, Marketing, Organizational Direction, Strategy

Teaching Notes: Yes (please contact yaletmknowledgebase@yale.edu)

About the Theater Management Knowledge Base

This case is from the Theater Management Knowledge Base, a body of arts management material created by Yale School of Drama Theater Management students and faculty, overseen by an editorial board of leading practitioners. For more information or for help in selecting cases suitable for your educational or organizational purposes, please email yaletmknowledgebase@yale.edu.