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11 Best Halloween Events for Your Last-Minute Plans


(Like our photo? It’s from BPT’s Inaugural Greatest Pumpkin Contest. See all of the pumpkin art on our Instagram.)

Halloween creeps up on you. One minute it’s September and then the next, you’re sifting through cat ears in the store’s picked-over seasonal aisle, searching for accessories to make a last-minute costume.

We curated a list of 11 Halloween events, so if you’re a procrastinator, you can still get in on the fun. But hurry, a lot of these events are expected to sell out.

Ghost Hunts and Haunts

Go on a hunt, stay in a haunted prison or even have a meal among the spirits.

1. The 76 Ghost Hunt

The ’76 House is New York’s oldest tavern, which is good because according to ghost math, the older it is, the more ghosts it will have. According to the event description, “full blown apparitions have been experienced and witnessed coming from rooms.” This event includes a three-course meal in the executioner’s room and a psychic medium.

2. White Hill Mansion Ghost Hunt

Known as one of the most “active” location in the Northeast, a ghost hunting ticket includes exclusive overnight access to the most haunted areas of the mansion, group séances and ghost hunting vigils, plus a hunt with an experienced ghost hunting team and their pro equipment.

Costume Parties

Find a Halloween party and dance the night away with Mario and Luigi, a giant peanut butter and jelly, and whatever the trendy costume is for 2019.

3. Masquerade Macabre

Live music, dancing, revelry, all with the coolest theme ever, Ghost Town on the Oregon Trail. Come in dressed in Old West and get ready to play an immersive version of the retro game.

4. Halloween Ball

Who doesn’t love a Halloween Ball? This one features interactive horror rooms, live performance stages and stars Trixie Mattel of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

5. Vampire Ball

Chicago vampires, this is your night and your event. Enjoy a cocktail hour, followed by a pageant where you will get to vote on the Queen Vampire, and then dance at the epic coronation party once the winner is announced.

Halloween Shows

Halloween is rife with folklore, elaborate costumes, scares and thrills, and that makes for amazing performances.

6. Devil in the Deep Blue Sea

This show explores ghastly tales from the deep blue, merging contemporary circus, giant puppets, theatre, and dance to create a truly immersive experience. “A chosen few guests will find themselves entangled in the evening’s festivities, lured into the mire and transformed into unsuspecting participants in the epic tales unfolding before them.”

7. Night of the Living Dead, a Radio Play

If you prefer ghouls to ghosts,
check out Night of the Living Dead, a radio play. Kentucky Shakespeare
recreates an in-studio performance of the tale in front of live audiences.

8. Quarantine: Phantasmagoria

The audience is part of the action at this live performance and art installation. Quarantine has a gothic-horror theme this year, perfect for Halloween.

Family-Friendly Halloween Events

Some events are too scary for the little pumpkins or (let’s be real) the adults. But a tame Halloween doesn’t mean a lame Halloween. Try these events if you’re in search of family-friendly activities.

9. Halloween Planter Workshop

Make your own spooky cement planters—choice of pumpkin or skull, of the steps explained to create a long-lasting piece of your own.

10. KatieMade Spooky Cookie Decorating

Ice some sweet treats. Learn how to make beautiful hand-iced sugar cookies and then take home your creations.

11. Nightmare at Beaver Lake

This crowd-pleasing Haunted House offers a terrifying full scare and a toned-down version for the little ones.

Didn’t find something in your town? This is just the scary start of it. Search for Halloween events on Brown Paper Tickets.

Arts >

Meet Circle of Care, Our Latest Charity Spotlight

Did you know that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month? Our latest Giving Program donation recipient is Circle of Care, an organization that supports families coping with childhood cancer. We teared up reading their origin story and were amazed by their generosity—it was founded in 2003 by moms who met during their own children’s battle with pediatric cancer.

We hope our interview with Circle of Care President Liz Salguero not only highlights this wonderful organization, but also sheds light on hardships families face when navigating a child’s illness, including isolation, financial stress, and even PTSD.

What was the impetus for Circle of Care?

“Through all the laughter and tears during the years of treatment our children endured, we knew we had to give back.”

Circle of Care was founded in 2003 by moms who met during their children’s own battle with pediatric cancer. We looked to each other for support, information, and a sense of belonging. 

We shared our stories and tips for how to cope.

We began with Bags of Love, our day-of-diagnosis care package, and have since expanded to offer five programs throughout Connecticut.  We provide the kind of care to newly diagnosed families that only another parent who has been through this experience can give.”

How do you impact the community?

When a child is diagnosed with cancer, the news is devastating and everything changes in an instant. Immediate hospitalization is often required, far from home, family and friends with no time to pack or plan. Most initial stays are weeks long. It seems there are more questions than available answers.

Faced with the unimaginable, families commonly feel afraid, guilty, angry, powerless yet still hopeful. Sudden immersion into hospital life and learning a whole new vocabulary while keeping up with blood counts, protocols, the merits of clinical trials, necessary scans, impending surgeries and side effects of radiation and chemotherapy drugs is overwhelming.

Our mission is simple.

Until no family has to hear the words, ‘your child has cancer,’ Circle of Care will be there to support, guide, and provide inspiration to move forward—wherever the journey leads. Over the past 16 years we have helped more than 2,800 families, through our Bags of Love, Art from the Heart Room Makeovers, and over $1.4 million in financial assistance. We provide personal emotional and financial support to these families, so they know they are not alone on this journey.”

What might families coping with childhood cancer need or want?

Loss of work is the biggest challenge these families face. During the first year of treatment, one parent has to stop working to care for their child. This loss of income coupled with increasingly higher medical deductibles and co-pays put families at financial risk. We work to ensure no family has to choose between paying their doctor and putting food on the table.

Isolation is the second biggest challenge. Treatment is long and hard and often children are immune-compromised, so they are cut off from family and friends and can’t attend school or regular activities.

Can you provide a story of a lasting impact your organization had?

Megan and Steven’s only daughter, Cassidy, was diagnosed with ALL in October of 2015. Cassidy was just three years old. Discovering that your child has cancer is bad enough, but when the family realized that her life-saving treatment could bankrupt them, they were faced with an even more startling reality.  Just four months after Cassidy was diagnosed, they came to Circle of Care for assistance with their mortgage, as they had already gone through most of their savings.

Here, Megan shares her experience.

In her own words…

“When presented with devastating, life-changing news, that your child has cancer, the last thing you expect to worry about is the financial impact (especially when you think you have a high-end, “Cadillac” insurance plan).  We heard about the hidden costs that come with a cancer diagnosis and treatment, but never expected them to have such an impact on our family’s ability to maintain our financial security. When our daughter was diagnosed, we spent eleven days in the hospital. Around day 5, we thought to ask the doctors about insurance, and they assured us that all treatment and medicines would be ‘covered.’ 

When we can home from the hospital, we came home to a $650 bill for our hospital stay (our co-pay), which was our first indicator that our ‘covered’ treatment was going to be an additional hardship. As we entered into various treatment phases, we were faced with bills greater than $2,000 a month, depending on the treatments necessary. 

While we have a good income, we are paying a mortgage and many large student loans. We don’t have much in our savings. Because of our income level, we found that we did not qualify for many of the co-pay assistance programs or any kind of supplemental insurance programs for our daughter that would lessen the financial burden.

All of this adds an unnecessary level of anxiety to an already overwhelming situation. The last thing you want to focus on is how we are going to pay our medical bills on top of our regular monthly expenses. 

The financial assistance from Circle of Care allowed us to put our focus where it needed to be, on our daughter’s treatment and healing. In addition to the financial support, we were contacted very early on by Liz Salguero, offering the insight and emotional support of someone who has been in our situation. The fact that Circle of Care board members have been through this and reach out to families had the most lasting impact.  Because of this, Circle of Care offered a level of support that no other organization was able to provide.

It is really hard for people to ask for help. Asking friends and family for money is difficult and embarrassing.  We never, ever pictured ourselves in that situation (even after our diagnosis).

“Responsible people with good jobs, good insurance, and good financial standing can be wiped out financially when faced with a cancer diagnosis.”

The emotional support and connection to the community are just as important (if not more) as the financial support. The bag that we received in the hospital from Circle of Care following our diagnosis was, and continues to be, an incredible and invaluable resource as we navigate this journey to recovery.

Before Cassidy was diagnosed, we didn’t appreciate the significant hidden costs that come with this life-changing diagnosis. The fact that there are people who are willing to give to strangers heartens and humbles us and welcome us into a community of care that we are grateful to be a part of and look forward to giving back to.”

How can more people help your organization?

Follow us on social media and share our story with your circle. You never know who might need our help in the future. Consider making a gift to Circle of Care–fundraising is increasingly difficult and without funds we are unable to meet the needs of these families.

How can people help families coping with pediatric cancer?

Be present. Listen, let them talk and share their hopes and fears and keep in touch. Don’t ask them what they need because they can’t tell you. Mow the lawn, bring dinner, offer to car-pool with the siblings for after school activities.

What does the typical day at Circle of Care look like for

We have so many different volunteer opportunities, that it is hard to answer. We have a very active volunteer board of directors and four different standing volunteer committees that support the two part-time staff that we have. We have seven Art from the Heart Teams who do room makeovers for us twice a year and many volunteers who help out at events.

Anything you would like to add?

We are so grateful for the support of Brown Paper Tickets and the opportunity to share our story. No child should get cancer and certainly no family should have to face this alone.

Good Causes >

7 Ways to Boost Attendance at Free Events

Boost-attendance-free events-wine-tasting

If you’ve ever planned a free public event, this will sound familiar. You promoted your event, got over 60 “yes’s” and the total attendance ends up to be about 5, including yourself and your dog. So you drag all the leftover food home and sob into the extra bottles of wine, wondering why so many people said, yes, when they really meant no.

Low attendance is often the case for free public events, especially for first-time event organizers. These days, flea-size attention spans, confusing ‘digital manners’, and lots and lots of choices make getting the “hard yes” a hard challenge.

Here’s how to get people not only to RSVP to your free event, but show up and have a great time.

1. Charge Admission

“When people are offered something for free, they have this extreme positive reaction that clouds their judgment.” From the Zero Price Effect study cited in this article.

Use “truffle logic” when it comes to ticket prices. In the Zero Price Effect study, participants always took a low-quality “free” piece of chocolate, even though they could have spent just 13 cents to get a better truffle–but when it came to paying even just a penny for the low-quality chocolate, they chose to spend a little more for the luxury truffle. The findings concluded that “free” anything clouds our judgement. Hence, the reason we all have those logo-covered conference tees in our closets.

A small admission price, even just $5 prevents attendees from getting so excited about the “free” ticket, that they RSVP yes too soon, only to change their minds later. A small ticket fee can even make your event more appealing, because it will have a higher perceived value.

If you’re uncomfortable charging admission, consider turning your event into a fundraiser for a local charity or offering “pay what you can” pricing.

2. Focus on the value

Gratis, gratis, gratis. Did we mention it’s free? Yes, about 100 times. It’s human nature to be suspicious of free—after all, how many of us attended a free event only to find out it’s a timeshare talk or an MLM gathering to sell fancy candles?

When you market your free event, lay off the all-caps FREE and focus on the true value proposition of your event (award-winning vegan ice cream, fire dance performances, cocktails made by a master mixologist). Then mention that there’s limited space and encourage your patrons to register by a certain date.

3. Make Your Event Invite-Only

This works well for networking events and workshops. Have a smaller, more exclusive event. Make your event private and invite-only and ask only the top-tier in their fields to attend. This way, you will only get serious RSVPs because part of the allure is networking with the other attendees.

If guests cancel last minute, give them a chance to send a coworker. That way, even if people drop out at the last minute, your attendance is kept up.

4. Give an Incentive to Show Up

Events bring the community together. Ask small businesses to pitch in a few items or gift cards to raffle off. They’ll get low-cost advertising and you’ll get prizes for your event. The possibility of winning a raffle is a definite incentive to show up.

Another fantastic incentive for free events is food. Coffee and pastries are always a hit with free morning events and tacos are universally loved (and relatively cheap/dietary-restriction-friendly) for afternoon and evening ones.

5. Add a Cancellation Policy

Use this one with caution–a stern cancellation policy can make you seem like a jerk and even a whiff of jerkdom can negatively impact attendance.

Add a cancellation policy to your event that clearly spells out what will happen if your attendees don’t show up at the last minute. Make sure you state exactly when the policy goes into effect. Some events are even combating low attendance with deposits.

6. Increase Your Reminders

Send out a reminder the month, week, and night before the event. You can notify all attendees right through your Brown Paper Tickets event, so anyone on your guest list will get the email. Restate your value proposition in the email and also give them the chance to change their RSVP.

“If you need to change the RSVP, please xyz.”

7. Use Subtle Guilt

Hey everyone,
Don’t forget, the big day is tomorrow. There’s a breakfast sandwich that can’t wait to meet you. If you can’t make it (because … life) please change your status now, so a person on the wait list can enjoy your breakfast sandwich and no food is wasted.

Darling guests,
Our event date has arrived and we’re looking so forward to seeing you tomorrow. Parking is a bear this time of year, so add extra time to your drive over. If plans have changed (womp, womp), you can change your RSVP here: [link] We’ll be bummed, but will look forward to seeing you next time.

Don’t let low attendance get you down. Just alter your expectations, think about what you could do better and get ’em the next time.

The unexpected does happen and you might have to cancel your event one day—read our blog post on how to cancel your event, in case it ever comes up.

Event Tips >

10 Events for Your Labor Day Weekend


At the beginning of the season, Labor Day seems far in the distance. And then, all of a sudden, it’s summer’s last call and you forgot to make plans. Your friends are all out of town, the beach bungalows are booked up, and you’re lucky if you can snag an empty lounge chair near the community pool.

Avoid that with 11 Labor Day weekend events around the country. From harvest dinners to shows to goat yoga, take advantage of summer’s last hurrah. If you don’t find what you’re looking for in this list, search events near you.

Food and Beverage Events

1.Uncommon Grounds Harvest Dinner – Chicago, IL
Savor the last of rooftop weather. Enjoy a cocktail reception on the rooftop farm followed by a five-course dinner (paired with Greenstar beer, Illinois’ first certified organic brewery) at Uncommon Ground Devon.

2. Staycation Social Dinner
It’s a well-known fact that “everyone” leaves New York for the holiday weekend. So don’t. Instead, enjoy a relatively empty Manhattan and socialize at this special Tribeca’s Kitchen staycation dinner.

Shows & Theater

3. Golden Girls Lost Episodes – Chicago, IL
The Golden Girls never get old. Dorthy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia are back on stage in the Lost Episodes. Enjoy this parody, featuring original scripts “that go where they couldn’t go on television.”

4. I Saw You – Real Personal Ads – Chicago, IL
Personal ads and missed connection tributes are sometimes funny, sometimes, poetic, always best shared. Hear them read aloud at this comedy show, the perfect show if your summer romance went awry or if you’re a lone heart looking for solace in a crowd.

5. Tom Gun – Live – Los Angeles, CA
You know what makes summer feel like summer? 80’s movies. At this event, three (yes three) Tom Cruise fans will be chosen from the audience to read Cruise’s classic Top Gun lines off of cue cards. Come dressed as your favorite Tom from any point in his career. Tickets include a taco meal.

Tours 6

6. Fun Things to Do in Hollywood Tour – Los Angeles, CA
Head off of the star-studded beaten path and sample Hollywood tacos and pizza, while hearing celebrity stories and learning about historic architecture. Customer-voted one of the best tours to take in Hollywood.


7. Goat Yoga – Paulsbo, Washington
Need peace of mind? How about yoga with kids? When we say kids, we mean kids, as in goats and they’ve practiced for this event for months. After the yoga, you’ll have 45 minutes to just hang out and pet the limber ruminants.

8. A Magicienne Among the Spirits – New York, NY
Witness Magicienne Belinda Sinclair’s miracles in her own secret “conjuring” room. This is a thrilling, two-and-a-half hour journey into the New York a century prior, a time when sorceresses conjured the dead and mediums performed impossible feats of magic. If you still need convincing, read this New York Times article about Belinda Sinclair and her fascinating Hell’s Kitchen lair.

Music Events

9. Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival – Woodstown, NJ
You can never go wrong with live music. The Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival in Woodstown, New Jersey is one of the “oldest such events devoted to bluegrass music in the world.” This world-recognized 3-day festival draws bluegrass performers from around the world. And it’s a family affair, featuring a kid’s stage and plenty for the little ones to do. Campers welcome. Note: online sales ended, but you can still buy passes at the gate.

10. Johnny Cash Now Concert – Abingdon, VA
Take it back to ’68 with a Johnny Cash tribute band. You’ll hear both old songs and modern and there’s even a June Carter cameo.

Didn’t find your perfect event? Find hundreds of events on Brown Paper Tickets.

Arts >

How to Use Influencer Marketing to Promote Events

Influencer Marketing

Influencers. The term conjures images of chic people who post perfect selfies (ahem #sponsored), travel the world for free, and stay in world-class resort hotels. As a JOB.

Influencer marketing, as trendy as it may sound, is a serious promotion tool for events. It is gaining ground as the most effective way to reach millennials and gen z, who distrust brands, don’t watch commercials, and are peer-driven.

It might sound expensive and complicated, but micro- and nano-influencers may be willing to promote your show in exchange for free tickets. Giving away a few free tickets for a bump in sales is well worth it.

Do you want awareness, engagement or ticket sales? What audience are you trying to reach? Have a clear vision of your goals before you begin your campaign. Also consider how you will measure those goals.

If you’re having a large event and a big promotion budget, there are agencies and platforms, such as Obviously that can help you select the right people, draw up contracts, and reach out to the chosen ones for a ‘collab,’ i.e. a partnership.

But there’s nothing stopping you from doing the research yourself.

Types of Influencers

Celebrities.You know, famous people. Modern celebrities include YouTube stars and other celebrities who made their fame online (RIP Grumpy Cat). They have the following of a small country, but that hefty following means a a single post could cost thousands.

Industry Experts/Thought Leaders. The ones that know their subject inside and out, who others in the industry turn to when they need advice. A great selection for those having conferences, leadership seminars, retreats.

Microinfluencers. defines a ‘microinfluencer’ as someone with a following of 2,000 to 50,000.

Over half of US and UK marketers who use influencer marketing are now working with micro-influencers, because they are more cost-effective. Emarketer has more information on how brands are paying influencers.

Nanoinfluencers. If you’re just dipping a toe into influencer marketing, finding a nano-influencer may be where to start. They have as few as 1,000 followers and are more willing to accept free tickets as comps. Look for recent posts, a lot of real engagement on their account, and a line in their bio that says they’re open to collabs.

How to Reach Out to Influencers

Many influencers view their social accounts as artistic means of expression, rather than a stream of product promotion. Try to find ones that match your events’ brand.

Offer an incentive and be direct about expectations. Aim for a professional, long-lasting relationship.

Just No

Hey Influencer, I see you’re into music. Can you mention our Blue Bridge music festival? It’s coming up this September. XO – James

It’s vague, there aren’t any details or incentives, and it assumes that the influencer will post about the event just because you asked.


Hey Sophie, We love the way you cover music and are interested in collaborating. We’re in the process of organizing the Blue Bridge music fest, which will take place September 9-12.

Would you be willing to promote our festival in exchange for free tickets/a sweet hoodie? We’re expecting one post at least a week before the event and one Instagram story from the festival. We would be able to give your followers a special discount code, offering $10 off $100 passes and we would like our collaborators to tag us @BridgeCityMusic and use the hashtag #BlueBridgeRocks

Please get back to us before August 22, if you’d like to work together.

Why this approach works: It’s friendly, specific, and un-bot-like. It offers the influencer free tickets and a coupon code for their followers.


Influencers don’t always follow through. You get everything set up on your end, the big day comes and they don’t show up for their free tickets. Or worse, they attend your show but never post. This is why some marketing teams use contracts when working with influencers.

You only have so much control of the content. Give the creator space to do what they do. For example, “we’d like one close up of a grilled cheese, on a red plate in front of our food festival sign” is a little too specific. Trust that they know what they’re doing and that they know what their audience will respond well to.

Sometimes those followers are fake. Pixlee has an excellent article on how to spot a fake following.

Need advice on influencer marketing for your next event or some general ideas on where to start? Email our promo team at promo[at] to set up a free consultation.

Event Tips >

To Boost or Not? Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Advertising

When it comes to your events, should you boost a post or set up a Facebook ad campaign?

Either way, in order to get some eyeballs on your event, you’re going to have to shell out some cash. Unless you have a super following of eager fans to like and share, simply posting your event on Facebook won’t do much.

The “free to play” days on Facebook and for that matter, Instagram are long over.

The good news is Facebook and Instagram advertising can be budget-friendly. Even just boosting a post a few days before your sales end can increase the excitement around your event and the ticket sales.

Get Your Facebook Pixel Ready

Before you start your campaign, consider using Facebook pixels to measure your campaign’s effectiveness. You can create a Facebook Pixel in Ads Manager.

Brown Paper Tickets offers the ability to add your Pixel ID with your account or individual events so you can track views and purchases. Here’s our tutorial on setting that up.

First Things First

Set up an event page in Facebook and have all of your friends like it, share it, and hit that sweet, sweet Interested button. You want to do this first, so that you’re not paying for what would be free clicks.

There’s a right way to announce events on social. Read 10 Crucial Steps to Announcing Your Event on Social Media.

Event photography is a worthwhile investment. Snap high-quality images at every event you put on.

First event? Use a photo of your headliner or even snag a stock image off Pexels or another quality stock photo site. Keep in mind that if you’re going to create a graphic, Facebook has rules about how much text can be in an image. You don’t want your ad to get stuck in the “review” process.

Use Facebook’s image overlay tool to make sure you’re within the limits.

Don’t forget to add your Brown Paper Tickets event page as the ticket link and include co-hosts (sponsors or others involved with your event) so that your event populates to their Facebook calendar.

Then you can do two things.

1. Boost the Post

While boosting a post is easier (just click “boost” and the system will walk you through turning your post into an ad), setting up an ad campaign will give you more options.

If this is your first time dabbling in paid digital advertising, we recommend boosting it for a small amount to get comfortable.

You can target your audience based on gender, age, location and interest. Link your Instagram and your Facebook business account so you can manage all of your promotions and placements in one spot.

Target the city that your event takes place and 25 miles out.

Boost it about two weeks before your event to get the most traction. Remember, with Facebook advertising you pay per click, so set up a lifetime budget and keep an eye on it.

Make sure your boosted post is relevant to your audience. Even though you think everyone will want to drive cross-country to attend your bread making class, it’s unlikely—the more people who interact with your ad, the higher your relevancy score will be and the more people will see your event, so targeting is super important.

Don’t waste time, effort, and money trying to reach people far outside your demographic.

2. Create a Facebook Ad Campaign

If you have a lot of events and a bigger budget, an ad campaign may be a better fit. There are better options in terms of audience targeting and you can select an objective. The platform can take some getting used to, so give yourself enough time.

One of the first things you’ll need to think about is your objective.

  • Choose Traffic to drive clicks to your website.
  • Choose Engagement if you just want a lot of social media likes and shares.
  • Choose Conversions to help increase ticket sales

Ad campaigns also allow more formatting and placement options. Show off your creative side with a carousel or video. Add a call to action button to “Learn More” or “Shop Now” and direct people to your Brown Paper Tickets event page to buy tickets.

If you decide to build an ad campaign, there are more also more options when it comes to audiences you can target.

  • Select Custom Audience to connect to people who already have an interest in your website.
  • Choose Lookalike Audience to find new people modeled after the ones who have interacted with your page.
  • Choose Saved Audiences to select from your commonly used audiences based on demographics, interests, and behaviors

Once you have a campaign and an audience, the platform will take you through setting up the ad creative, aka, the fun part. Choose between a carousel, collection, slideshow, or Instant experience. This article helps make sense of all the options.

Not sure how to get started? Just ask and our Promo Team can advise you on your Facebook advertising.

Event Tips >

Q&A: Jack Bartholet Talks “Lady with a Song”

When we first came across Jack Bartholet’s show poster for “ Lady with a Song,” on Instagram, we realized two things—red lipstick and peep-toe heels looks amazing with a business suit and Bartholet is someone we should know.

More than that certain je ne sais quoi, he has an impressive resume as both a tenor singer and artistic director. He has joined voices with Our Lady J, The New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, and appeared in Rocky Mountain Repertory’s production of Almost Heaven: Songs of John Denver. He has also worked as Rufus Wainwright’s assistant.

The next big thing is performing at Pangea’s inaugural Pride festival (June 17-30) on June 27th. If you live in New York or are headed there, get tickets for his show or check out the whole festival.

Several write-ups about you mention that you push boundaries. What should we expect in your latest “Lady with a Song?”

One boundary I push is that I don’t apologize for asking my audience to call me a Lady; A Lady with a Song. In one script draft, I began with an overly wordy preface explaining that by calling myself a Lady I was not attempting to speak for female voices or trans voices. I am a cis-gender gay man and in the speech, I attempted to “get ahead” of potential criticism by explaining that. Fortunately my director convinced me that once people saw me and heard what I have to sing and say, that they’d know “Lady” is simply an affectionate nickname. One that matches some of the silly, femme energy that I bring to the show (and my life) and a title I celebrate. I think the boundary pushing starts there. While I don’t think it’s too, too daring to twirl in a pink petticoat while singing an Ethel Merman song, I also recognize that it’s not necessarily what you might think I’d be doing. I’m not in a suit and tie crooning standards. Without steering my audience into a total sadness, I also bring up some truth that doesn’t exactly provoke a knee slap. 

In one word, what makes a good show?

“Wow!” [the moment you think/feel/say] 

If you had one person, living or dead to share a stage with, who would you choose?

Can I do living and dead?

Let’s say, since it’s nearly World Pride, all hail Judy Garland. Judy would likely be the answer to this question from most gay cabaret singers. Her connection to the LGBTQA community and her icon status are too exciting to name anyone else for me…though her daughter Liza would be equally thrilling. If she agreed to share the stage with me, I’d undoubtedly be upstaged by her monstrous talent and charm, but I’d have shared the stage with one of the world’s greatest entertainers.

Living… I would say my former boss, now friend Rufus Wainwright. I was his assistant for a while a few years ago. I was quickly thrust into the role knowing and respecting who he was and I wanted to do a good job. While I focused on the tasks at hand, I sometimes forgot to stand back and see what an incredible artist Rufus is. The first concert I attended no longer as his assistant was here in New York. I sat in the audience and soaked it all in: what an insanely beautiful, passionate, and unique performer.

He’s done some amazing collaborations and has shared the stage with gads of stars I admire. His voice is so, so powerful. We’re both tenors and share similar sensibilities so I think we’d have fun. 

You seem to promote your events very well… what is your best piece of advice to performers on how to promote their events?

I did a run in January and an encore show in March for a total of four shows. I have only posted four or five times on Instagram and have done a handful of stories. I don’t think you should over do it when it comes to posting promotional stuff. People want to you to be real on social media. I don’t want what I post to be exclusively “Lady with a Song.” I also want to post things that make me laugh, smile and think.

I do my best promotion in person. If I’m invited to an event, I go and I promote my show once I’ve connected to someone. I think it’s good not to be so ultra-branded. You have to believe in your show. Once they do, hopefully you’ll get repeat audiences and word of mouth will spread. (If you’re reading this, why don’t you buy a ticket now?)

You’re performing Lady with a Song at Pangea. What part of performing there excites you the most?

I’m part of their first annual Pride Festival because after my first run of the show back in January, the owners approached me about participating. That’s to say, the two gentlemen who run Pangea [Stephen and Arnaldo] and the whole staff for that matter, are excited about what you’re doing. That makes you feel very supported. They incubate projects and make artistic connections. When I was dreaming up my venue for Lady with a Song, one of the most important things to me was atmosphere. The first show I saw there, [Penny Arcade] I remember thinking how great it was walk to the back of a restaurant to a small stage, to see art on the walls, real candles burning as opposed to fake ones and a thoughtful food and drink menu. Pangea has a cool factor and I like knowing I’m performing in the same room as other artists I respect (Lady Rizo, John Cameron Mitchell, Tammy Faye Starlite).

You participated in a residency at the Orchard Project. What should every artist know before their first residency? 

That’s a great question! I certainly had no idea what to expect myself. After inviting one of my friends, now director Julian Fleisher, to a show I did at The Duplex several years ago I received an invitation to come to The Orchard Project to “cook up a new show.” I had highs and lows in that short, ten-day period. For me, cooking up a new show meant a lot of daydreaming. Listening to and researching new music, getting recommendations, imagining how songs would play out in my mind, talking through these ideas. I beat myself up a little because of all this time spent daydreaming when I looked around and saw other artists cranking out tons of work with their collaborators. Ultimately, I got a lot of ideas out and that was really good.

I’d encourage other people to take whatever space they need to dream up their artistic project and not compare yourself to the other artists around you. There is basically nothing more unhelpful, though it’s very easy to do. I also think you need to ease up on deadlines. While they’re very important, you can’t rush the process. I sat on ideas from my first residency for a year and was lucky enough to return to continue working in a deeper way. Whatever the amount of time that passes in between your ideas and the mounting of your project isn’t worth beating yourself up over. It’s easy to doubt your process and get scared. But it’s up to you to turn that fear around and make big, bold, brave choices. It’s then you’ll discover the joyous moments in your process and you can start to edit. 

You’ve also worked in artist management and festival direction. Do you see yourself returning to those roles?

I always want to work creatively. I love watching artists gain support and making a vision come to life. I started performing when I was twelve and have continued to work in creative spaces my whole life. Working alongside artist managers taught me so much and I do find satisfaction helping to make an artist or a project feel supported enough to share their talents and dazzle the world. Ideally, I’ll be performing a lot more myself…and maybe I’ll need management ;-).

I do have a mind for making things tighter and a number of insanely talented friends, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I used the producer part of my brain more and more. I also have some ideas for a theatre company, Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre that I’ve worked with over the last ten years and I’d love to see them come true.

How do you manage the stress that often accompanies life as a working artist? 

Well, sometimes I don’t. When I have gigs to perform on the calendar, I’m a pretty happy camper and when I don’t, I find myself in a common valley wondering if I should ever perform again. If that sounds dramatic, it’s because it is! But, I do meditate and journal. I am extraordinarily lucky to have a supportive husband who believes I should continue to create while freelancing. Friends and family who believe in me keep me positive. I try not to put myself down and sometimes I close my eyes and remember watching people connect with and appreciate my work and that fuels me to want to create more.

I also take comfort in the fact that a lot of people I look up to have the same stress and forge ahead. 

Photo credit: Ruthie Darling

Arts >

Giving Spotlight: Supporting Parents Through Tough Times

CrisisNurseryPhotoThe parent road is a long one with a lot of twists, turns, spilled sippy cups, crushed Goldfish crackers, and yes, amazing scenery along the way.

But life obstacles can send even the sturdiest station wagon spinning. That’s when parents turn to their “village” of family members and friends. But what about those who don’t have a community or can’t find and/or afford emergency childcare?

The Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery, our latest Giving Program donation recipient offers a safety net for families experiencing extreme circumstances, such as trauma, domestic violence, or maternal depression—situations that place children at a higher risk of abuse and neglect.

“The Nursery began with a goal to establish a 24/7 crisis helpline and shelter six children per day. Today, we answer approximately 4,000 crisis calls annually and shelter up to 20 children per day, providing over 5,000 nights of care annually to children aged newborn through six,” says Emily Burck, Annual Giving Manager of the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery.

By offering parents resources during difficult times, the Crisis Nursery can help prevent extreme stress from spilling over. “We invite parents to come as they are, courageously share their story, and trust that we will partner on their journey,” says Burck.

“The Nursery is a busy place, but it’s full of hope and joy. We celebrate the strength of parents who choose to pick up the phone and ask for help. They remain in control, teaching us what their child does or doesn’t like, how to best soothe them when they become upset, as well as things that make them happy.”

“You ensured my child’s health and well-being when I had no one else to help.”

Sasha was in labor with her second child—she arrived at the hospital with her mother and three-year-old son, Eli. As she had complications with her previous delivery, she needed her one and only support person—her mother, by her side. Sasha and her mom didn’t have friends or family they could call to help. This meant that no one would be able to care for Eli during the delivery.

When she called the Crisis Nursery she was relieved, knowing someone was able to care for her son while she brought her new baby into the world. The Nursery staff even picked Eli up from the hospital so Sasha’s mom could stay with her the entire time.

When Sasha picked Eli up a few days later, she knew how well cared for her son had been during his stay. Her Family Advocate shared how Eli spent his time, what goals he worked on, what food he ate, and how he slept. She expressed so much pride when she heard Eli helped put cups away and stack the chairs. Often, people are quick to point out Sasha’s shortcomings as a parent or how her child is misbehaving. It’s different at the Nursery—her Family Advocate highlighted ways Sasha could support Eli and they celebrated his achievements together.

Sasha learned that Eli slept better with a nightlight, and that he used belly breathing to help cope with stressful feelings. She learned that he enjoyed reading, The Snowy Day and received a copy of it so they could have an age-appropriate book to read together before bed. Sasha laughed when she heard that Eli ate two helpings of broccoli and that all the kids had pretended they were giants eating little trees.

When Sasha and Eli left the Nursery together that afternoon, Eli didn’t just have a new baby sister, he had a mom who felt a new sense of safety, knowing there’s a community dedicated to supporting her family. Something she had not experienced before.

CNGM is an excellent resource for families. The community’s generosity sustains the hardwork they do—you can donate to the Crisis Nursery or if you’re in Minneapolis, volunteer.

Good Causes >

3 Ways to Get Guests Talking at Networking Events

Networking-Games-Business-EventsYou’re hosting the mixer to end all mixers. Everything is perfect—the venue, the weather, and you’ve even managed to sell out. But the attendees are standing on opposite sides of the wall with their faces buried in their phones.

No one is talking. It’s more awkward than a jr. high dance.

The success of industry events, conferences, mixers, and meet-and-greets depends on your guests making connections. If they don’t feel like they made new contacts or added to their circle of colleagues, they aren’t likely to return next year.

No pressure.


1. Kick Off Networking Before the Event

Meeting online is easier than in-person networking. Encourage digital interaction before the event.

Have guests register, even if it’s a free event on Brown Paper Tickets. That way, you can estimate attendance, email updates, and guests can have discussions right on the event page.

Make a hashtag and promote it on your event page or if you’re having a larger conference, create a Facebook group. Write fun polls to engage attendees, such as ‘would you rather have unlimited tacos or popsicles at the after party?’

Guests can virtually meet and then do things like form carpools, give tips, or arrange post-event happy hours.

2.  Give ’em Something to Talk About

Be silly, be creative, just don’t be boring. Look for opportunities with your nametags, event signage, booth swag to show off personality and get your attendees talking.

Here’s a swag wheel Brown Paper Tickets made for a booth at DragCon. It captured attention, drew people in, and made a fantastic ice breaker.

For smaller networking events, give space on the nametags for attendees to write something memorable about themselves. This gives shy people an easy conversation starter and a way to remember who they just met.


Name: Amanda H.
Spirit Animal: Tree Kangaroo

Name: Ron S.
Favorite food: Breakfast meat (any)

Name: Leslie K.
Most likely to: Scrapbook this networking event

2. Optimize the Venue for Chitchat

Set up the venue space in a way that facilitates chitchat. Cocktail-style seating is optimal for the standard meet and greet, because it allows your guests to move about the space freely and is less intimidating to wallflowers than other seating arrangements.

Here’s a standard floor plan for a low-key mixer:


3. Networking Games

Speed networking
Speed networking is modeled after speed dating—the object is to meet as many people as you can in a short time. Each participant gets a specific amount of time to introduce themselves, which varies depending on the size of the group.

The standard is 3 minutes for each attendee, so if you had 10 attendees, allot 30 minutes to speed networking.

Penny for Your Thought
This one works well for smaller groups. Give attendees pennies (no more than 15 years old) and ask each person to share something that happened to them in that year. Kick it off with something lighthearted and amusing or a career-related anecdote, so it doesn’t get too serious.

Business Card Challenge
Who doesn’t love a challenge? Ask your attendees to collect as many business cards as they can. It’s the perfect challenge for big groups and you can add stipulations to ramp up the fun—such as, you can only exchange cards after a minute of talking.

Bonus tip: go to a few networking and business events before you plan one yourself. Are people talking to each other or awkwardly texting? Take notes on what works and what does not.

Event Tips >

5 Secrets to a Successful Community Arts Event

community-arts-festivalHere’s the scenario: someone delegates you the enormous responsibility of planning a community arts festival. It needs to be wildly successful, but you have little-to-no budget and a short time. You nod and say alright (there’s a reason they asked you after all), but your mind is telling you to run screaming.

You can pull off a rockin’ community arts event, even under such constraints. You just need to get out there and connect with venues, community members, and artists.

Here are 5 tips that will help your event:

1. Find a Venue that Will Benefit

Ideally one that has power, running water, and restrooms (inside), so that you don’t need to rent the infrastructure separately. Before you approach the venues, have a good idea of how your event will benefit the space. They may be able to cut you a deal or even allow you to have the space for free.

The definition of venue has changed a bunch. Don’t overlook bookstores, warehouses, barns, and dance studios.

Watch our webinar on turning your empty space into an event space.

2. Pool Community Resources

Don’t underestimate the human need for passion, purpose, and connection. Clearly define your cause and publicize it. Make flyers, post to community apps and Facebook groups, put up a notice at community gathering spaces in your neighborhood. You will be amazed at how easily you can pull together a team of local volunteers.

Every city and town has talented artists who are excited to show off their work. Establish a common vision, make new friends and pull in their friends.

3. Include a Range of Arts

A powerful community arts event can draw a range of people. Keep this in mind as you book and schedule entertainment. When you include a diverse range of acts and people from all walks of life, you will attract and appeal to a wider audience. Consider posting a call for artists and step outside your own comfort zone to find them.

The term “arts” encompasses a range of activities; don’t limit yourself. You could include magic, storytelling, painting, dance, jump rope dancing, circus arts, burlesque, spoken word. The talent is out there, you just need to look for it.

Pro tip: Set up areas at your event for people to chat, before checking out the show. They’re more likely to stick around for the whole event that way.

4. Find Creative Solutions that Don’t Cost

Investigate your venue space and brainstorm ideas for creative ways to engage with it. You will be surprised at how innovative you can get.

At a community arts event we held long ago, our staff member transformed the black-and-white checkered dance floor into a giant game of checkers. Creativity is half the fun and you’re working with one creative bunch, so use their brains.

5. Invite EVERYONE

Don’t limit your invites. Use the steps outlined in this post on how to announce an event on social media . Tell all of your friends, family, coffeehouse owners, people at your gym, local eateries and shops about your arts extravaganza. Talk to local publications and neighborhood blogs—if you can get listed in just a few of them, you’re all set.

Create an event promo video and post it everywhere. Get listed in local events’ newsletters and finally, ask your friends and family to spread the word.

Have you ever had to plan an event that was outside your comfort zone? How did it go?


Arts >