The past two years have been difficult for Broadway and for live theatre. COVID-19 shut down all productions, and subsequent variants, including Omicron and Delta, continue to have an impact.
For audiences, it meant not seeing the shows they know and love. For producers, actors, musicians, and stagehands it meant trading the magic they create for unemployment claims and paused careers.
According to Actor’s Equity, the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers, earnings for Eastern region members fell the furthest in the 20-21 season, from an all-time high of nearly $400 million in the 18-19 season to $11 million – a staggering 97% drop in earnings.
Broadway is coming back, but the economic hit the theatre community took during the pandemic will have far-reaching consequences. As a Broadway fan, marketing executive and entrepreneur, Ron Guirguis posed a question:
“What if we use NFTs as a revenue stream for live theatre?”Ron Guirguis, Marketing Executive and Entrepreneur
Blockster connected with Ron to discuss how his new theatre IP company, MuseWorks Labs, aims to leverage the artistry of Broadway productions and live theatre in New York and around the globe to create compelling digital collectibles that theatre fans will love.
Recently, MuseWorks Labs launched an NFT marketplace, The Broadway Exchange, which started selling digital collectibles the minute it went live. Check out our interview below with Ron Guirguis to learn more about how he’s using NFT technology as an innovative way to support the broadway live theater business.
NFTs for Broadway seems like a niche market. What was the ultimate reason you decided to launch The Broadway Exchange?
I’m a theatre fan. Over the years, I’ve developed relationships in the theatre community. I saw how theatre was being impacted by COVID-19 and connected with Tony Award-winning Broadway producers Sue Gilad and Larry Rogowsky to brainstorm ways we could infuse modern technology with the theatre traditions we loved to keep theatre alive.
We landed on using NFTs because it is the best medium for creating unique and compelling digital content and experiences that can also have real-life utility. Essentially, people can take a piece of Broadway home with them.
We saw it as the perfect way to build on the tradition of theatre merchandise by creating authorized digital collectibles that theatre fans will love while creating a more sustainable, resilient and equitable revenue for live theatre.
How has the theatre community responded?
They’re catching on quickly. We were very transparent from the start that MuseWorks Labs and The Broadway Exchange exist to serve the theatre community. 90% of the sale of digital collectibles goes back to our live-theatre production partners, and a portion of the proceeds are distributed to producers, cast, crew and the entire creative team.
And because of the power of NFTs, the creative community will continue to benefit from secondary sales through royalties that pay creators every time the collectible is sold.
We also knew that launching with industry support was key, so we partnered with iconic and up-and-coming Broadway and off-Broadway shows, including Burlesque, May We All, Stranger Sings and Girl From the North Country.
We’ve also met with unions to get their feedback and input and we’re in constant conversation with actors and producers. We’ve recently developed a Creative Council, which is a group of artists and theatre experts dedicated to building support across the theatre community and offering the company guidance on how to keep our mission aligned with the real-time needs of the theatre community.
What’s next for MuseWorks Labs and The Broadway Exchange?
We’ll continue to talk to producers, partner with more shows, and of course work diligently to create new, unique ways to sign up users to The Broadway Exchange. We are laser focused on meeting the needs of theatre community and their loyal fans, and will continue to evolve and innovate. We’re still a young company so there are endless possibilities ahead.
Finally, how can our readers get involved?
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