I’ve been hard at work this past few days contacting productions across Utah in order to send our reviewers. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and I think that’s because there’s a need in Utah for a resource of consistent theatrical press coverage. Granted, the large companies will get reviewed by the papers. That’s a given. But what about the newest community show that hasn’t yet established their audience? What about those theater companies that haven’t yet built up the capital for serious advertising or haven’t yet gone the non-profit route?

Well, those questions and a few more are what the UTBA exists to answer. The marketing director at Pioneer Theater Company sent me a few questions on our organization and I was grateful for that. It forced me to organize a few of the thoughts floating around for the creation of this organization. I’d like to post my response to her email below and hopefully, it will provide a nice introduction to our growing readership.

Dear Kirsten,

First off, I want to compliment you on being the first theater we’ve contacted to actually ask us a few follow up questions. I’d love to share a little bit about who are current audience is and what we’re hoping to do with this organization.

Our organization is definitely new. It’s begun as a reaction to the social marketing being done by Ken Davenport in NYC. Our ultimate goal is to provide reviews for every theater event in Utah.

We’re working towards a goal of 30-40 contributors ranging from your average theater patron to university faculty to working theater professionals. I’ve worked and studied in Utah County for the past five years and was actually working on helping to establish the “Society for the Development of Utah County Arts” before my job moved me back to Davis County. I believe we’ll meet our goal of 30 diverse contributors by April 1st.

Our present task is reviewing as many shows in Utah as possible. Though we only formally organized our site last week we have been very pleased with the overwhelming response we’re receiving from the local theaters–large and small. In fact, here’s who we will be reviewing this week:

Our site launched just last Saturday, but our readership has steadily doubled each day resulting in 100+ new visitors spending an average of 4 minutes on our site. Most visitors reside in SLC and Utah County while we are just now starting to see 2-3 minute visits from readers in Washington, California, and New York City. We are confident it will continue to grow as the reviews remain steady.The majority of our readers are coming by way of word-of-mouth marketing. Our reviews are posted and reposted on several profiles on Facebook. Cast and crew in local productions are definitely helping to distribute the word. We’ve just submitted our information to Google and will be indexed shortly.

We believe Utah has some good theater and are looking to see how best we can help raise the quality of productions by increasing the size of the audiences. As things move forward we are looking to establish a UTBA Recommendation and Award based on the same system used by the Jeff Awards in Chicago.

Hopefully that introduces our organization clearly. We don’t claim to be Chris Jones from the Chicago Tribune. We acknowledge that we are bloggers, but bloggers that will soon represent a good slice of the demographics in Utah.

Please, let me know if there are any other questions I can answer. Your question certainly prompted me to formalize a few of the thoughts we’ve been sharing internally and I believe I’m going to post this response of mine on our blog and Facebook.

Dave Mortensen
Utah Theater Bloggers Association