Despite all the New Tech City buzz and the thousands of practice and performance spaces scattered across the five boroughs, it appears no one had thought to develop a centralized platform allowing your scruffy downstairs neighbor to book a performance space somewhere in Bushwick next Tuesday. Not anymore, however. Behold, the most stereotypically New York of new platforms: NYC Performing Arts Spaces, a site wholly devoted to helping artists find and book practice and performance space.
An earlier version of the site, which has been around for nigh on a decade, allowed users to search venues and their capabilities. But it served as more of a directory–you still had to pick up the phone to check availability. The new online booking system makes booking and paying online for one of 2,300 venues infinitely easier, thereby maximizing the amount of time your aforementioned neighbor can spend working shifts at Cafe Grumpy.
“What we’ve done now is really taken it to an entirely different place, by allowing venues to connect their rental calendars in real time to the website,” said Adam Huttler, executive director of Fractured Atlas, the arts organization behind the project. “That creates the opportunity for a real marketplace,” he added. Versions of the site also exist for San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
That, in turn, fits nicely with Fractured Atlas’s efforts to help artists and arts organizations “be more effective as businesses.”
Theaters can use the service for a mere $20 a month, and Fractured Atlas claims the platform is already helping beta testers bring in business. One organization, Fourth Arts Block, has reportedly rented as much space in the last month as the four months prior. The system also promises to be a good way to fill last-minute vacancies, similar to what Hotels.com and Expedia do for the travel business. Half of beta testers were looking for space within the next seven days, while 25 percent wanted something within the next 48 hours.
However, the site isn’t intended as a money-maker. While Mr. Huttler hopes that the fees will help cover the costs involved, “fundamentally this is a noncommercial service.” They’re just excited about helping venues attract new customers.
“The arts is a tough business,” he explained. “Any opportunity for new revenue streams and new relationships that help people do business better is a boon for the field.”