The Nick's Andy Smith Guest Blogs from Sundance Film Festival - Part 1

Andy Smith, executive director, of our very own Nickelodeon Theatre is sending dispatches from Sundance Film Festival for the next few days. It's not his first trip to Sundance, but each time he comes back with ideas and initiatives that not only enhance our experiences at the Nick, but also the Indie Grits Festival experience.
First up, Andy's posting about Art House Convergence's 2013 conference, which brings leaders of art house theaters from around the country together, always just before Sundance kicks off. Want to know even more? Follow Andy on Twitter: @andysmithsc, Isaac Calvage, the Nick's marketing director: @calvage, and of course, the Nick: @nicktheatre.
From Andy: 

I simply love the Art House Convergence . It's an incredible opportunity to have a little "check-in" with the field, learn from peers across the country and share our accomplishments (and occasional failures) from the past year. The past few years have really seen the prominence of the Nick shoot up, and when we first attended this conference we saw ourselves as maybe a bit behind the curve. We are now often seen as leaders due to our successful Move the Nick capital campaign, the opening of the new theater and the transition to digital.

With last night things kicked off with your typical conference socializing and catching up with friends from across the country, and things really got going this morning.  Russ Collins, from the  Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor, MI, welcomed all of the delegates this morning showcasing the theme of this year’s Convergence: The Brave New American Art House. Stressing the importance of being community focused, mission driven theaters Russ spoke enthusiastically about our roll as community builders. The cinema, he said, can no longer be seen as a new art form, but the specialness of the theatrical experience, seeing films on a big screen, is still a great experience. It's up to us to continue to provide that.

Juliet Goodfriend, from the Bryn Mawr Film Institue presented one of my favorite parts of each Convergence - the unveiling of survey data collected from attending theaters. The Nick was singled out as being one of only a handful of theaters to have participated in the survey every year (yes, we try to do our homework).  The data covers everything from ticket sales, revenue breakdowns, seating capacity, programming offerings and more.  My favorite statistic is always how much ticket sales increase with the adding of additional screens.  The big take away again this year is that we should all plan to add additional screens, not additional seats, to generate more revenue. It all just makes us so excited about the eventual opening of our second screen.  Other data of note is that the Nick’s per capita concessions sales figures are about on par with our peers and our ticket revenue for only a single screen is also near the national average.

Ava DeVernay with members of the cast of Middle of Nowhere.

I just had the chance to chat with Ava DuVernay, director of  Middle of Nowhere (playing at the Nick through Thursday). I'm really excited that she's here at the Convergence this year and am looking forward to her panel on race and the art house.