Thinking Outside The Box(office): Unusual Venues

Thinking Outside The Box(office): Unusual Venues

alternative venues

A common conundrum for wedding planners is finding new and unusual venues. Venues that are unique and memorable yet cost effective. If that challenge sounds familiar, in this post we share how some are thinking outside the box and making use of unusual venues. They may help your event find a home and save you money too!

Why do we blog this? As a leading provider of ticketing software for venues and events, ThunderTix is privy to new and alternative ways to produce events that you may not be aware of. When we see an emerging trend or successful execution on a new idea, we relish the opportunity to share it with hard working venue owners and event promoters. We like to call this...

Thinking Outside the Box(office) logo

The Next Frontier?

Time was, you held your event at a familiar place. That place was cost effective, easy to manage and well received by patrons. So well received that word got out and now everyone wants to use that same space for their event. The law of supply and demand dictates that the now wildly popular venue you once called your own must continue to raise its price.

You are not alone.

The hunt for venues is an on-going challenge for many an event promoter, wedding planner and independent performer. Some have resorted to so-called "guerrilla venues" but such drastic tactics may not be for you (a guerrilla venue may not have electricity!) Instead, you may want to consider locales and structures that are not normally considered "venues" yet offer the infrastructure and amenities your event requires at a very cost effective price.

Steven Heller recently wrote 'The Next Frontier for Touring Musicians: Living Rooms?' chronicling a new trend by independent musicians - performing in the living rooms at private homes.

Heller writes of one such indy music maker, Gideon Irving, and the surprising results that come from the unusual venues he books himself into.

...Gideon Irving [is] a young New York singer, songwriter, raconteur, and entertainer. And his favorite performance venues are in strangers' homes, preferably living rooms—and a few choice kitchens—where he parks his prop and musical instrument-filled cart, and then does his act for no fee as long as long as he's fed, allowed to sell his latest CD, and invited to sleep the night.

Last year Gideon earned $15,000 from Kickstarter that allowed him to make a concert tour to New Zealand. Initially he had just five shows booked through, a social networking site for travelers. From those five he got contacts for the next five, a pattern that repeated itself until four months later he had played in 80 homes...

The one man show Gideon Irving puts on lends itself very well to the DIY tour of private homes. His use of social media and crowd sourced fundraising are matching tools for such an "out of the box office" approach. Costs are low, or non-existent, to perform in someone's living room, so a loosely organized "tour" doesn't need to have a big budget. Spoken agreements, not one hundred page long appearance contracts, are the norm for this kind of unusual venue. If your event operates at a small scale and doesn't have the need for contractual agreements, a living room tour may be a new opportunity.

A relativity unknown performer is a good fit a the unusual venue such as a living room. But what if your event is of a much larger scope? Someone's home is not the place for thousandths of your ticket buyers. You'll need a... faux-amphitheater?

Faux Amphitheaters

Logo of Vice Magazine's music blog "noisey"

Unusual venues come in all sizes, and to read a recent article in the notorious Vice Magazine, they come with all sorts of unexpected "extras". Vice has a popular, and slightly "not safe for work" (NSFW), music blog called 'Noisey'. Noisey brings the very latest in music trends to its readers and that includes the latest in unusual venues.

'Day-Drunks And Faux Amphitheaters: Raging At Unusual Venues' by Xavier Aaronson interviews several cutting edge musicians and asks about their experiences performing at non-traditional venues and locations. Aaronson interviewed Mathew Dear, co-founder of the Ghostly International music label, about going off the beaten path.

Q: You’re no stranger to unusual venues. Remind me of some of the ones you've played at already?

A: I've performed at the Guggenheim in New York, the Getty in Los Angeles, the Natural History Museum in New York and Los Angeles, and once before at the MoMa PS1.

Q: So, what’s different with the MoMA PS1 versus, for example, a strobey club setting?

A: The MoMA PS1 is plain old special. That faux-amphitheater layout, combined with summer in the city, gives it such a magical feeling. The people that live in the houses adjacent to the museum have parties on their balconies, and then it feels like a block party.

Art museums are spacious buildings and obviously have all the amenities of a concert hall or night club. Should the art museum in your area have a progressive thinking board or management, they may be open to having your event. Many museums operate as non-profit entities, that means fund raising is a constant challenge. Creative cooperation between you and the museum may bring your event to a new home while benefiting a worthy cause at the same time. The proverbial WIN-WIN.

Private homes and art museums still not enough space? What if your event needs an unusual venue with even larger capacity or it is one that runs over the course of several days and nights? How about a structure that is hundreds of thousands of square feet, located right smack in the middle of the most sought after neighborhood in the country - but costs a fraction to rent compared to nearby traditional venues...

Eleven Eleven

Miami Beach Florida has some of the most expensive commercial real estate in the country, a few square feet can cost tens of thousands of dollars. The high dollar, ultra-trendy area has more than its share of venues for events, but demand is still so high, event managers routinely seek out unusual venues, even parking garages.

Herzog & de Meuron known for iconic building such as the Tate Modern in London and the "bird nest" stadium of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing China, were asked to design a parking garage for the crush of cars pouring into the South Beach area. The famous firm brought all its design expertise and know-how when re-thinking what a mundane parking garage could be. The result is the "Eleven Eleven" located at 1111 Lincoln Road.

Intended to be an unusual venue for events was actually part of the original intent. Savvy area businesses knew they alone wouldn't have such modern icon of architecture for mere employee parking. The parking garage is booked routinely for events as diverse as a Ferrari Owner's Club meeting, weddings, live music and, in an ironic twist of fate, a fine art gallery display.

The video above is filmmaker Elizabeth Priore's min-documentary about 1111. The film is an excellent look at the building, it purpose as both a parking garage and as an unusual venue for events.

Last year, Michael Barbaro wrote an in-depth look at 1111 titled 'A Miami Beach Event Space. Parking Space, Too'. The spotlight goes into the gory details of how the building was financed, how much it costs to rent it ($12,000 to $15,000 a night) and interviews the commercial developer as well. Barbaro writes:

The garage has an unlikely back story. Its developer, a contemporary art collector named Robert Wennett, bought the property in 2005, inheriting a drab-looking bank office and an unremarkable parking lot at the corner of two well-known boulevards, Lincoln and Alton Roads.

Quirky zoning regulations in the city, which is chronically short on parking, made it profitable to build a large garage — not everyone’s vision of a grand gateway to the retail and restaurant-filled streets that surround the site.

Multi-use, multiple revenue streams, and a culture icon that helps define a city's identity. All that's missing is your event.

Adaptive Ticketing Software for Unusual Venues

Prompt to sell tickets for any kind of eventOne need not live in Miami Beach to appreciate the novelty of a parking garage doubling as an event venue. Just about every metropolitan area has parking garages, and, the same way you could reach out to forward thinking museum owners, you could ask about renting the parking garage in your town too.

Be it an art museum or a parking garage or even someone's living room, if you make use of an unusual venue, you'll need to make use of ticketing software that can adapt in kind. ThunderTix ticketing software is unusual in that it has all the tools you need to sell tickets to your event online and let your customers print their tickets at home - all without the need for a physical box office. There are no location constraints and no limits to where your event can be held, so choose a ticketing software capable of serving the need of an event at an unusual venue.

What do you think? Can your event be held in someone's living room or at a parking garage? Are you in a bidding war with other events to secure the same old traditional venue? Let us know in the comments below!

 Image source: Wikimedia Commons