The Next Stage: Now with UQ Events listings

uq31Hey, Vancouver theatre companies, have you jumped on the UQ Events train yet? It’s a social-network-y site that is poised to become a real influencer in Vancouver’s entertainment scene, and a great fit for indie theatre promotions. It’s a fantastic service, and it’s free. The folks running the site are seriously cool, too. Here’s how I know…

In December I got an email from UQ’s Marketing Director Michelle Lanthier. We had actually talked before, she had quite proactively contacted me about the company last September, which I duly checked out and, finding it a great concept and a unique service, gave a bump to on this site. It turns out ‘proactive’ is UQ’s middle name, Michelle was contacting me this time to ask for a coffee meeting to discuss some promotional ideas for her company with The Next Stage, which I was rather humbly happy to agree to. The result of this meeting is the new link in the sidebar titled ‘Click for Vancouver Theatre Calendar’. It’ll take you to The Next Stage’s UQ calendar which lists all the upcoming shows of the companies that we’ve subscribed to on the site. (Each company as well as your calendar on UQ broadcasts an RSS feed, which you can subscribe to in an email-like application such as Google Reader, so the site will send updates to you when new shows are imminent. If you’re not yet familiar with RSS feeds, trust me, it’s all way easier than that sounds.)

So far all the civic companies and a bunch of local theatres are on UQ – The Arts Club, Performance Works, Theatre at UBC, The Playhouse, The Cultch, Studio 58, Pacific Theatre. PuSh is on there, anything by Rebecca Coleman (always at the cutting edge, that one) – so a movement’s already begun, and ready for all of us to jump on board.

The site has a very easy interface for all the perks it offers; if you’ve used Facebook you’ll be able to navigate UQ with no problem. It’s full of great features to use, or not, it’s totally up to you how in-depth you want to get: photos, video, linkage, you can add ‘friends’ just like all good social networking sites and send direct messages back and forth…it’s certainly an idea whose time has come; web 2.0 concepts for linking the independent arts. But like all of these fun ideas it spreads virally, so have a look and if you like the idea, spread it around a little. Like I’m doing here.

I had to stop Michelle at some point during our meeting and say flat out “you know my readership is pretty much all in independent theatre, right?”

“Of course.”

“So I feel like I’ve got to tell you, you’re never going to make any money off of us. Like, none. We don’t have any, that’s kind of part of our thing right now.”

She politely indicated that yes, thank you Mr. Blogger, I’m aware.

“So, if you don’t mind my asking, why are you going to all this effort with us?”

Michelle patiently explained that UQ isn’t about promoting through sponsorship (they sell unobtrusive ad space), and that, being an independent startup themselves, they really want to get behind our industry, and see it proliferate. We’re exactly the demographic that they want as members on the site. Besides, says she, she met her business partner in theatre school. So there.

Good enough for me. Have a look around and see if you like it, and if you do and join up, friend me and I’ll add your company or show to The Next Stage UQ Calendar. This could be the start of something big.


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