Saying Yes to a meeting…or No

quote115_largeI’m a bit late with this week’s blog because I am knee deep in trying to tie up meetings for my visit to 4 cities/countries in 2 weeks – Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Seoul. In each I am seeking meetings with interested and interesting producers, theatres, directors and theatremakers who want to talk about the potential for new Musical Theatre collaboration and licensing between UK and SEAsia.  My thanks to Perfect Pitch Musicals for asking me to go visit.

I am reminded of a story I often tell about the benefit of saying “yes” . The basis of Improv is, as I understand it, always to say yes to any “offer” made by the other party – to flow with it and see what happens. That is my belief for meetings between strangers who work, at least broadly, in the same field of creative arts and management.

In Sept 1987 I started as CEO of Buxton Opera House and almost the first letter on my desk was from an Austrian touring arts manager who represented an Italian opera company with a Hungarian orchestra and Rumanian chorus. Compagnia d’Opera Italiana di Milano. They wanted to get their first ever dates in the UK. Hans Schlote had visited the UK and written letters to many theatres. I replied that I would be delighted to talk. The only other “yes” came from Northampton.   Indeed Herr Schlote had even visited one major city, and visited the box office of their major opera presenting house, and asked to have a word with the Manager because he was in town. The Manager sent word down that he was too busy. That’s why for all the time I was at Buxton the Compagnia premiered their European tour in Buxton before playing Northampton and, slowly, a range of other Cities who woke up to what they were missing.   A company of 72 international voices and musicians gathered to rehearse and open in the UK prior to playing France, Germany, and beyond.   I said “yes” to an enquiry. My much more experienced, older, counterpart was too busy to say hello to an international producer in his foyer.

I am delighted, as I make email contact with producers, young directors, and theatremakers that most are going out of their way to meet me, or suggest other people whom I should meet. Individuals in Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo are arranging informal meet-ups for me. Interestingly one of two of the people I most expected to instantly help to sort meetings are unavailable and unresponsive. I hope that I can encourage these very busy people to get their assistant to help sort a couple of meetings. But that is always the way.

I encourage any creative who wants to meet with or see people with whom they would like to connect and work, to write to them. There are three possible answers “Yes”, Ignore, and “No”. I go for the Yes everytime I can. And even if I can’t I try to pass the person on to someone else who might be able to help.

Without saying Yes in 1987 to a strange letter from a strange promoter about a company unknown to the UK, I would not have had 5 years of fantastic sellout houses for amazing international opera singing, and the chance to connect Herr Schlote with a good colleague Ellen Kent so that they could continue to work together, and she could go on to bring in the most amazing unknown opera companies from around the world. It all started with an ask from him, and a yes from me.

Take a chance. Next time a stranger contacts you, or asks to say hello in the foyer, go and spend a moment with them and see what happens.

Have a good week…now Grady, back to emails between UK and SEAsia.

Who have I not yet contacted with whom I should have a conversation face to face when I am over for my flying visit.  Connections most welcomed.




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