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Volume 26, Number 5 — May 2019

The Value Added at Barter Theatre

Ed Yates
Ed Yates

Enhancing the Barter Experience

By ED YATES | June 04, 2007

Reprinted by permission from Barter Theatre's Esprit magazine, May 2007.

Philosophers and economists can fill page after page with dissertations on the concept of "Value." When I was in the home furnishings business, I analyzed each item I purchased for resale for three attributes: Utility, Quality and Rarity.

I imported a porcelain coffee mug from Brazil that was the standard military issue for the Brazilian Army. It was basic white, thick, easy to hold and once hot, held the coffee at just the right temperature. We sold thousands (and it was only $1.59).

We also sold the Wedgwood Jasperware line and once had their beautiful teapots for $99 and sold all 32 pieces in four days! The mug and the teapot were equally valued ... the mug for its utility and quality, the teapot for its quality and rarity.

Indeed, if all you wanted to do was serve tea, we had many teapots priced much lower than $99. BUT...there was a difference. The purchaser of the Wedgwood teapot was a collector and brought a passion for the heritage of the Wedgwood Company and the quality of Wedgwood's product to their buying decision.

Each year, millions bring such a passion for the performing arts to arenas, civic centers, auditoriums and stages throughout this country. Indeed, 75 percent of all Americans went to an art event last year exclusive of movie attendance.

Performing arts attendance has outdrawn spectator sports attendance every year for the last ten years. While those numbers are huge, they are also diffuse.

The thousands of community theatres, choirs and orchestras and the hundreds of such professional groups bring the arts to millions every week. Despite those attendance numbers, the media increased sports coverage by 50 percent last year even as it reduced coverage of the performing arts by 30 percent.

In this mix of competing cultural institutions, Barter Theater faces the rigors of the marketplace as does any business. The costs associated with having live stage productions parallel those in the broader community. As in hospital stays, having your car serviced or getting a plumber to your house, the live stage is a service industry. Barter has all the costs of physical plant maintenance, payroll, research & development, marketing, long hours and high customer

In an effort to enhance the "Barter Experience," the Foundation began the development of Stonewall Square. There has been some additional parking, lighting and landscaping completed with more improvements to come. The
original master plan for Stonewall Square's 2.2 acres was a bit more grandiose than just a beautifully landscaped parking lot. A cooperative effort between Virginia Tech, the Martha Washington Inn and Barter Theatre was to see the establishment of a School for the Preservation of Appalachian Craft, a Culinary and Hotel Management School, and, of course, a School of Professional Theatre. Grand...Yes!!!...Achievable...Definitely!!!

A popular business phrase today is "Value Added." In today's competitive environment, every business endeavors to enrich their product line or service by building customer loyalty through "value added" experiences or qualities. The
concept of Stonewall Square in the current phase and in a future ultimate end phase is to achieve that value added enhancement for Barter Theatre. In the final form, Stonewall Square will be a center of education, entertainment and commerce for Abingdon residents and visitors ... a destination for Barter's passionate patrons.

As a reader of Esprit, by your applause at a show, through your donation of time or assets and by word-of-mouth ... you indicate your passion for Barter.

As in the credit card TV commercial:
— Pre-Show Fine Dining in Abingdon for Two — — — — — — $50
— Tickets to Evening Barter Performance for Two — — — $60
— Lasting Memories of the Occasion............Priceless!!!!

A! ExtraTopics: Theatre