Jessica Simpson is the current event agent for the Alys Stephens Center in Birmingham, Alabama.
Simpson started her career as a pre-med major & biology minor, and she took a writing class where she found out she was good at it. Then in her junior year, she changed her major and became a film major. While in college she got an internship with city stages (which she deems invaluable). Then she worked at a TV station four years and left to work for the Alabama Symphony. Simpson currently works for the Alys Stephens Center as director of marketing. She has held this position for 8 years and has had a heavy hand in bringing artist to Birmingham.
The Alys Stephens Center was started as a community center, it was meant to be a world class preforming art center. Simpson stated that in order to marketing for the arts and marketing for non profits, you have to be a jack of all trades. Simpson said, “almost every non-profit is short staffed, and hand in all pots with it” However, despite the cons, Simpson said it is gratifying to see different crowds of people attend the many different types of shows.
The budget changes form season to season, but generally it’s a “keep it between the system”. It all comes down to production cost, hotel, tickets, what the sales might be; this decides if there will be a show that can be afforded. Higher “A level” seats will attract a different audience than with “B & C level” seats for the rest of the house is ideal.
In order to attract an audience, Simpson said that the “language” of the audience must be understood. It’s about knowing the classical audience and the jazz audience and how to appeal to them. It’s important to know how far in advance someone will commit to come see a show and how many will buy at the door. It’s important to know about buying patterns and audience behavior. “A show or an event wins or looses, fills or succeeds the day the deal is made, what ever terms or conditions you make the day of the deal makes or breaks it right there,” Simpson said.