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Subject: "ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #426
Reading Topic #426
Alison

23-12-99, 01:45 PM (GMT)
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"ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve"
 
   (Just in case you were planning on booking tomorrow). It reopens on Monday. Ashton bill seems to be booking quite heavily, at least at lower prices.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve Eugene Merrett 24-12-99 1
     RE: ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve Bruce Madmin 25-12-99 2
         RE: ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve Eugene 25-12-99 3
             RE: ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve Bruce Madmin 25-12-99 4
                 RE: ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve eugene merrett 26-12-99 5
                     RE: ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve Jenny Delaney 26-12-99 6
                     RE: ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve Bruce Madmin 26-12-99 7
                         RE: ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve eugene merrett 26-12-99 8
                             RE: ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve Bruce Madmin 26-12-99 9

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Eugene Merrett

24-12-99, 11:17 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve"
In response to message #0
 
   Closing early on Christmas Eve is bad enough. But when it is coupled with the new season going on sale on Dec 21 and the cancellation announcements it is downright farce.

Why did they choose Dec 21 for the box sales to begin? This far too close to Christmas when many people are either too busy with Chirstmas shopping on going on holiday.

If the box office managers were working for me, my Christmas present to them all would be the sack!


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Bruce Madmin

25-12-99, 02:02 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve"
In response to message #1
 
  

And they say the spirit of goodwill to all men is dead!

Like many I get frustrated by inefficiency, poor service or changes that don't always seem for the best. But we really do need to put all the current concerns and jibes in some kind of context.

The ROH is an organisation that a year ago was on its uppers. They've been slimmed down, kicked around, got new systems and procedures, been spending 220m in 2 years and all in the full glare of a less than supportive press and fan base. That they opened on time amazed many and yet it seems we expect absolute perfection in everything from day one. Well even the slickest of new organisations takes time to bed down - that's reality.

Perhaps it would be nice if the box office were open on Christmas Eve, perhaps it might have been nice if they could have instantly stopped the selling of tickets for performances rapidly withdrawn and yes it is sad that some more performances are lost. But I think that the ROH, while striving with every muscle to deliver the goods and put right wrongs, have a right to be judged in the context of the enormity of what is still being done and by 'reasonable' standards rather than by expectations set way too high for this stage in the redevelopment. I plead guilty to all this as well - it's kind of natural and we have all waited a long time etc.

But when was the last time any of us organised something significant that went off entirely without a hitch?(and nobody suffered the consequences of us failing to do the other stuff we do!) or we moved house on the day we originally said. And do we really deliver all our work absolutely on time and to quality... and do this every time? Well the ROH are people too and we need to be part of making it better.

Only if they consistently fail to deliver are we going to become steadily disenchanted to the point it got to with the old management who effectively failed us all.

Amidst all this peace and goodwill, I have but one potential grouse... and that is the orchestra, who on the first outings at least, show little sign of having changed their ways with regard to bothering much for the ballet. The brass continue to struggle with notes that do not defeat the ENB or BRB orchestras. For now I remain charitable and put this down to the general rush and backing up of productions.



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Eugene

25-12-99, 10:17 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve"
In response to message #2
 
   But I would argue that the company is guilty of serious misjudgement. Instead of a careful run in with straight forward works they embarked on a far too ambitous schedule of new works and revivals. Cancellations were inevitable. That was a mistake that could have been seen with reasonable foresight.

Also the box office opened far too late in the season. They had plenty of time after the allocation of seats to friends to open the box office yet they choose to open it too late. Also they should have opened the season on weekend like Glyndebourne does. This allows those of us in gainful employment and those out of town to come to the box office.

I would also say that have yet to see any material improvements to the opera house other then the Floral Hall. As said earlier the improvement in stage equipment benefits opera with it elaborate sets re Falstaff.


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Bruce Madmin

25-12-99, 11:57 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve"
In response to message #3
 
   >But I would argue that the company
>is guilty of serious misjudgement.
>Instead of a careful run in
>with straight forward works they embarked
>on a far too ambitous schedule
>of new works and revivals.
>Cancellations were inevitable. That was
>a mistake that could have been
>seen with reasonable foresight.

I believe the plans were created for the most part be the old management and that once committed they are very hard to change or adjust - such are the lead times on bringing everything together. The forced adjustments we see now are painful, but probably not as painful as trying to amend the programmes wholesale.

Perhaps Kaiser and co may have said it could be tough and there might be some turbulence in the reopening season. But nobody would have thanked them for it and it would have meant that government and sponsors money would have been put at risk. I think they called right and the hassle now will be forgotten in the grander scheme of things.


>Also the box office opened far too
>late in the season. They had
>plenty of time after the allocation
>of seats to friends to open
>the box office yet they choose
>to open it too late.

I didn't see it as late - just another date when something needs to be done by. So its late for you, and possibly for some others as well. But these are all new systems, and people, and goodness knows what hassles there might be in keeping the show on the road. I don't see this as unusual. You seem to think that they have total free will over when things can be done, but that's not so in organisations that have gone though big changes. I'm much more worried about lost applications for tickets - something which rarely happened before I think.

>Also they should have opened the
>season on weekend like Glyndebourne does.
> This allows those of us
>in gainful employment and those out
>of town to come to the
>box office.

Sounds like a good idea for the future.

Remember at the moment weekends are probably a precious time when techies fix software and data problems that got thrown up in the week. The last thing they are in shape for yet is 7 day a week operation.

None of this implies bad management - this is what routinely happens in organisations that go though major change. If you want to avoid it, you can do as NASA and double your bills as you protect yourself this way and that. But its not cost effective which is why companies don't do it....

>I would also say that have yet
>to see any material improvements to
>the opera house other then the
>Floral Hall. As said earlier the
>improvement in stage equipment benefits opera
>with it elaborate sets re Falstaff.
>

This debate has been had before - it is not just about the auditorium and stage. Its about the whole infrastructure for 600 people. Its not sexy, but its needed.

I have some clear views about the auditorium, but decided I would give the place a year and then reflect.

I'm amazed by where we sit in this debate. As I recall you publicly said that you would leave ROH all your money when you died. And of course I was all for seeing RB become an independent company just like ENB, BRB etc.




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eugene merrett

26-12-99, 02:16 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve"
In response to message #4
 
   I do concede that poor programing decisions were made by the old management most noticebly by Mr Payne who now critizes the ROH from his ENO office! But I am not convinced that lead in times are so long for straight forward works. A simple opera like Cosi Fan Tutte or the Barber of Seville can be put on in a relatively short time. I suppose there could be big cancellation fees that would have to be paid.

Also by opening the box office so late one has only three days to book before the closure for Christmas. I am not convinced that the weekend swas need for tweaks to the software. Box office software must be pretty straigthforward and almost off the shelf. Besides they have plenty of time to tweak it earlier in the year.

They should have opened the season bookings a week early and on a weekend. That is not much to ask for!

And also not to announce to the people waiting in line of the cancellations is pretty inexcusable!


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Jenny Delaney

26-12-99, 03:21 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve"
In response to message #5
 
   >I do concede that poor programing decisions
>were made by the old management
>most noticebly by Mr Payne who
>now critizes the ROH from his
>ENO office! But I am not
>convinced that lead in times are
>so long for straight forward works.
> A simple opera like Cosi
>Fan Tutte or the Barber of
>Seville can be put on in
>a relatively short time. I
>suppose there could be big cancellation
>fees that would have to be
>paid.

There's the scheduling, the principals to arrange - singers' diaries are booked years in advance. Any theatrical production is a MAJOR undertaking. I've done most jobs backstage in my time. I know the sort of hours people work on these productions. I have some idea of the length of time it takes to negotiate opera.

Not to mention that changing the plans would have been media suicide - can you imagine the headlines?

At the moment, good publicity is VERY important to the ROH, and I think they're doing an excellent job, especially in being upfront about the reasons for cancellation.

Frankly, I'm amazed the whole thing opened when it said it would, and that the work seems to be done - Sadler's Wells was still a building site on its opening night.


>Also by opening the box office so
>late one has only three days
>to book before the closure for
>Christmas. I am not convinced
>that the weekend swas need for
>tweaks to the software. Box office
>software must be pretty straigthforward and
>almost off the shelf. Besides they
>have plenty of time to tweak
>it earlier in the year.

I'm sorry, but that's complete rubbish. They couldn't install the software until they knew what was happening with the auditorium, what prices were being charged for what seats, and what seats are available for each performance.

As any computer person here can attest, NO software rollout goes smoothly. Particularly not when you're running it on Windows NT, which is what the ROH seems to be doing. I know they've been having problems with system crashes and such stuff, which is inevitable with a new system, while the bugs are being ironed out.

As for tweaking it earlier in the year, the existing box office staff were working on bookings for the seasons before the ROH opened, and are you seriously suggesting that the ROH should have hired people months in advance to sit around and test the software? That would have been a major waste of money, since these people would have been paid to do very little.

No matter how well designed a package is (and the ROH's booking software has a lot of nice bells and whistles), you can never fully tell how it's going to react until it's put under proper testing. It may seem fine to the techies, but the average users do things to computers that make the mind boggle, and come up with things that computer people never dreamed of.

> They should have opened the season
>bookings a week early and on
>a weekend. That is not
>much to ask for!
>And also not to announce to the
>people waiting in line of the
>cancellations is pretty inexcusable!

Did it occur to you that they might not have known? That the people responsible for making the cancellation decision might not have told the box office, or that the box office might not have had time to implement the decision? I know the Sunday Times had the news, and I know precisely when the Sunday Times' deadlines are, having worked for them, but sometimes people find out about their jobs by reading it in the newspaper.

Your idea of opening on the weekend is an interesting one, but there are other factors to consider. What about the already considerable crowds in Covent Garden on a Saturday? What about the cost of overtime for box-office staff, since inevitably there would have to be more staff on duty, and weekend overtime is usually more expensive than weekday?

Yes it's bad communication, yes it's not right, but for heaven's sake stop whingeing.

There is a superb Opera House that opened on time, with most of its productions intact, that has been greeted with joy by thousands of people. The Royal Ballet has superb facilities that the dancers are still awed by. The Royal Opera has also benefited enormously.

It may not seem important to you, but hundreds of people's working conditions have been drastically improved, and this is a blessing both for them, and for the audience who can expect to see improved performances as a result. Personally I would far rather know that the performers had adequate working conditions than worry about a lack of glitter out front.


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Bruce Madmin

26-12-99, 04:21 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve"
In response to message #5
 
   >Also by opening the box office so
>late one has only three days
>to book before the closure for
>Christmas.


I don't understand this? You don't have to book by the third day and many won't. After booking opens - thats any booking opens, there are working days when you can book. You seem to have a bee-in-your-bonnet about working day 3 for some reason. Its not like if you miss working day 3 suddenly everybody else gets a go and you don't - everybody, including you, gets to start buying again on working day 4, 5 etc

Cheer up - its Christmas!


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eugene merrett

26-12-99, 09:32 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve"
In response to message #7
 
   I must yield to Jenny on this one. Obviously she knows far more about management then I do despite the fact that I have my own company.

If you think that it OK for the management to choose no tell the waiting public about the cancellations then that is fine with me!!

I am not convince that reservation software updating is the main reason for the rather late opening of the box office,


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Bruce Madmin

26-12-99, 11:08 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: ROH Box Office CLOSED Christmas Eve"
In response to message #8
 
  
>I am not convince that reservation software
>updating is the main reason for
>the rather late opening of the
>box office,

And you are quite possibly right Eugene. But its just an example of what goes on. The whole point is that its the accumulation of loads of issues that cramps an organisations abilities to do the things that in a smooth running, steady state, world it would manage more easily. Picking a date for public booking is not just about the box office, other departments are involved.

And things snowball of course... so with the latest cancellations they now they have to give money back, send apologies and take fresh bookings which of course is more work and pressure on people and systems.

The only final thing is to question your feeling about booking being late and that being synonymous with bad.

I don't see it's late. Its just another date in my diary. And surely the booking date has been in the public domain for weeks - thus allowing people to plan appropriately.

But even if it has moved back in some way that sounds like good news to me - surely its better to be paying your money later than sooner? Certainly nobody could accuse theatres of having bad cash-flow!

I doubt that we will agree on this. While I'm certainly not known for tolerating poor service, or bad dance for that matter, there are times when you acknowledge that an institution is basicly doing its damndest and it will all be fine. I can't see that twisting the knife achieves much in this case.


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