Mumbai-based theatre producer Rajesh Kadam explains his new Prestige Card scheme to increase the footfall to theatre
Art and economics usually don’t make a good marriage. But Rajesh Kadam, producer of Marathi plays, has managed to do precisely that. “I am a producer. And, so the empty chairs in the auditorium would bother me a lot. So after much brain-storming we came up this initiative called ‘Prestige’. Art movements alone can’t really register an increase in the footfall to theatre and live entertainment shows. You have to balance it out with economics,” explains Kadam.
The initiative, which started three years ago, is at present limited to Mumbai and its suburbs like Borivli, Badlapur and also Panvel. “A decade ago, when the malls came up, they hardly had any footfall there. So the brands came up with gimmicks — discounts, sales, freebies, which led to an increased footfall and profit sharing also went up. I thought this pattern could be replicated in theatre too,” says Kadam, adding, “We are trying to create an audience bank.”
The initiative involves a person getting along two friends/acquaintances and registering their names by paying Rs 500 for each of the two. Registration will be done for free for the person who got the two members. The members of Prestige (who are given an I-card) can avail three tickets for two plays and one music show. They can also bring along two more people and watch the plays at a discounted rate.
“The members of the initiative get an I-card. Also, they become a part of the group and get message alerts about new plays, shows etc. Seventy per cent of the audience likes to watch theatre, but doesn’t get a chance because of whatever reasons. So Prestige Card Scheme is a medium, a bridge between theatre and audience,” h adds.
In the process, Kadam argues that they are also creating employment opportunities and boosting sensible, wholesome entertainment. The membership stands at 30,000 and with plans of expanding the scheme in Pune, Nashik and other regions, Kadam hopes that the target will eventually cross 1 lakh. His dream is to see that at least one member in the family owns a Prestige I-card.
In this exercise, he has also received a helping hand from veteran actor Dr Girish Oak. Says Oak, “I am a part of Prestige card scheme in advisory capacity. I usually address the members on importance of theatre and the changes that have taken place. I also felicitate those attendees who have roped in a higher number of members.”
At present the scheme is limited to Marathi theatre and Hindi music shows, but if like-minded people from other regional theatre groups are interested, Kadam is willing to expand the initiative.