September is right around the corner, and while most of us have been spending our summer in Puerto Vallarta strategizing ways to stay cool, many live entertainment venue owners catering to anglophone audiences (OK, the ‘big’ three in Emiliano Zapata, and I’m deliberately keeping The Boutique Community Theatre out of the equation because it is a community-based project) have been busy securing deals with new and returning performers to announce their seasonal entertainment lineup in the near future.
But who is this live entertainment for? Or who can actually afford it?
If you examine scheduling habits of said venues in past years, you will notice two trends and two possible conclusions:
Trend #1: No International Artists During the Summer
The booking of international artists decreases progressively as the so-called season winds down, sometime around May each year. When that time comes, each venue chooses their own path. Very much to their credit, The Palm Cabaret and Bar closes for the season returning sometime in the fall. Simple as that. Act II Entertainment pats itself on the back for promoting local bands and other local acts during the summer months, but from what I hear from disgruntled local performers, for them to obtain prime-time scheduling slots during the Fall/Winter months is either next to impossible, or the expectation is that their ticket prices should be… well, we’ll get to that in a bit. Lastly, a quick peek at Incanto’s calendar reveals a similar pattern.
This would seem to indicate one of several things:
- The venues are not interested in scheduling English entertainment for the local anglophone population during the Summer months.
- The local anglophone population is not interested in what the venues have been scheduling during the Summer months.
- The local anglophone population is not as interested in live entertainment as some would like to believe.
Trend #2: Ticket Prices Are Increasing
It would seem that each venue is discreetly looking at each other’s lineup trying to figure out how much the others are going to get away with, when it comes to ticket pricing. Of course, this is difficult, as they all guard their upcoming season schedules until the very last minute, which sucks if, for example, you are planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta in January and would like to find out today what’s playing during that month. To the venues’ credit, other local industries do the same thing—restaurants notoriously so.
Of course, prices are a complicated, general topic, but a common remark specific to those who claim to love live entertainment is “well, watching (insert favorite artist name here) perform live in Puerto Vallarta is less expensive than in the US or Canada.” This seems to work fine for north-of-the-border tourists with seemingly limitless vacation budgets, enjoying a few days in town. But what about the local anglophone population? Can retirees afford tickets? How about young folk that are just starting a new life in Puerto Vallarta?
Possible Conclusion #1: Venues Don’t Care All That Much About Local Anglophones, Their Likes or Budgets
There, I said it. Either that, or the venues have not invested in a thorough market analysis about local anglophone budgets and interests, how they overlap with those of tourists, and how they don’t. Without such analysis, the venues cannot begin to put together successful strategies to further develop local audiences, in my opinion. But there is something else that is even more troubling, at least for those of us that enjoy attending a live performance from time to time.
Possible Conclusion #2: The So-Called Booming Live Entertainment Scene in Puerto Vallarta Is Overblown
Golfers love to praise Banderas Bay for our designer courses. Anglers love to come back to our bay season after season for out-of-this-world fishing. Something similar could be said about surfers and their local turfs. But you’d have to be a golfer, an angler or a surfer to feel that way. And you’d have to love live performances to claim that Puerto Vallarta’s live entertainment scene rocks. And maybe, of the thousands of anglophones that call Puerto Vallarta home year-round, there aren’t as many that love live performances as some of us would like to think. (Or, heaven forbid, the programming choices of said venues are simply not our cup of tea!)
Case in point: Teatro Vallarta’s The Exorcist and Alleged Religious Beliefs
For the past few weeks, some of Puerto Vallarta’s main streets have been plastered with banners promoting a Spanish production of the play, The Exorcist, to take place at Teatro Vallarta. But if you go into their website, you will find that the upcoming September 6 performance has been canceled. As usual, no explanations were given, but it wouldn’t be the first time that a production is canceled at Teatro Vallarta, either for lack of interest among local audiences, or lack of effective promotion, or both. Ticket prices were $660, $550 and $440 MXN each—ouch!
Then there was the case of standup comedian Carlos Ballarta (not a typo) who was to perform at Teatro Vallarta on September 14 as part of his current tour throughout Mexico. If you speak Spanish, you can enjoy a couple of his taped specials on Netflix. The show is called Dios Está Muerto (God is Dead) and it was cancelled, according to an August 22 post by Vallarta Independiente, because the owner of the venue is christian. Go figure.
If you are still with me, hopefully you find this topic interesting enough to answer a quick poll: If you are a local anglophone, how often do you enjoy ticketed live entertainment in Puerto Vallarta? To keep things simple, I’ve limited the answers to three options related only to frequency, and based on the type of entertainment you’ve come to expect at the venues. If your frequency or lack of thereof is related to prices, or the type of entertainment that has been scheduled in the past, feel free to share you comments in the discussion, below.
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