Escena Digital: Bringing together the Latin American artistic community

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A virtual marketplace is bringing together theatres, productions and artists from Latin America and beyond, opening up international opportunities and allowing for a nimble response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Escena Digital (ED) is the first Latin American digital ecosystem that brings together theatres, productions and artists from the classical performing arts of 10 Iberian-American countries. 

ED is the digital innovation of the Latin-American theatre association, Ópera Latinoamérica (OLA),1 which generates professional opportunities for artists, singers, musicians, directors and technicians in the performing arts. According to OLA’s latest research in 2019, the 40 member organisations employ approximately 30,000 people directly and indirectly, reach an audience of more than 5 million people, and sell their tickets through more than 10 different ticket companies for an estimated value of US$74 million a year. 

ED addresses this market and opens up a wide array of opportunities and new businesses for the sector by encouraging co-production, sales and rental of productions (sets, costumes, props); promoting venues and theatre rentals of available halls; improving learning and providing online training courses for artists and technicians; and creating a vibrant corridor for professional growth. 

The digital platform is a commercial endeavour launched by OLA in response to the increasing professional challenges faced by theatres in both their individual and collective management. ED builds up its market using unprecedented strategies that bring together the performing arts sector in the region. The platform was conceived as a collaboration between OLA’s office, the members of its regional network and Latin American artists in the sector. It was funded by two grants from Start Up Chile in 2018 and 2019, and was selected as a leading Latin American innovation at the Inter-American Development Bank’s 2018 Demand Solutions event. 

ED’s services – for theatres, artists, producers, managers and for the Latin American classical performing arts sector – promote sustainability. Its stakeholders, gathered together in a digital environment, create a broad and highly specialised community. Access to the platform is possible through a layered membership fee which, due to its scalability, reduces operating costs. ED’s profits fund artistic scholarships and a diverse programme of social outreach. 

The purpose of ED is to shorten the gap within the performing arts value chain of creation, production, exhibition and promotion. A platform that brings together the most important opera houses in the region turns ED into a player that can make a significant contribution to levelling the market of cultural goods and services between the northern and southern hemispheres. ED’s scale gives it the strength of advocacy to generate favourable conditions for the development of the region’s opera, ballet and classical music, expanding access to international markets and to future investments. 

The purpose of Escena Digital is to shorten the gap within the performing arts value chain of creation, production, exhibition and promotion

ED is organised in three sections. The Theatre section includes prestigious organisations in nine Latin American countries, Spain and the US. ED’s strategic plan in this section includes an Airbnb-style model, with an integrated and updated calendar of performance venues and halls available for rental.2 Customers can book spaces through a digital platform, providing new sources of income to theatres. The current rental income per theatre can reach US$2 million a year. Another major strength of collaborative working is the ability to integrate sales in one ticketing facility, allowing theatres to retain profits rather than losing out on commission. One example to follow is the private company Ticket Gretchen, which has developed a similar venture in Austria.

The Productions section connects productions for sale or rental to theatres, festivals and independent companies. This type of user creates a secondary market, enabling theatres to optimise profitability for premiered productions and allowing non-producer theatres to schedule events based on a diverse catalogue. 

The Artists section was created with 14 developed profiles, such as orchestra director, dancer, choreographer, stage designer and composer, to build bridges and professional opportunities within the industry, enhance careers in the international market and broaden the opportunities for artists. Currently, only well-known artists have access to managers and agents, and most Latin American artists promote their careers through social media. Their access to European and American digital catalogues depends on whether they have performed on international stages before. 

Because of the COVID-19 crisis and the accelerated digital transformation, Escena Digital decided to launch its Artist section for free, for a six-month period, to support the careers of the Latin American singers who have been especially affected by the pandemic. During this period, ED also began offering networking webinars with renowned artists such as Ramón Vargas, Ailyn Pérez and Isabel Leonard. These sessions also include career development resources such as personal finance, brand management and digital presence, among other topics. 

The Latin American performing arts market is a fertile ground of possibilities. Escena Digital, with the support of OLA, is bringing together the Latin American artistic community through an unprecedented virtual ecosystem, uniting best practices and participants for a common purpose.

1 OLA is a collaboration network which for the past 13 years has brought together 40 opera theatres and art companies in 10 Iberian-American countries. OLA’s strategy plan 2015-2025 is based on five main fields of action: associativity; communication; training of technicians, managers, and artists; new audiences; and technology.
2 According to the OLA registry, 400 theatres with over 600 seats were listed.

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