Dena Marei Trakes, creator and publisher of Show News won the Early Stage Honor Roll Award for small businesses, one of two categories in the Entrepreneur of the Year Award presented by Harvard Business School Club of Greater New York.
Show News is a 20-page publication dedicated to promoting Off-Off Broadway performances.
The objective of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, sponsored by several financial institutions, is to bring young entrepreneurs with new ideas to the attention of people in the marketing and financial industry. This is the first year the category of Early Stage Honor Roll has existed. Nominees in this category were all companies that ran on a budget below $100,000. Trakes told Playbill On-Line she was "thrilled" that smaller companies had this opportunity to gain recognition.
When Trakes created "Show News" in December 1997, she had no idea what sort of impact her publication would make. It began as a four-page publication for entertainment professionals to obtain information on emerging artists, upcoming Off-Off Broadway shows and basic "inside information."
"I began as a casting agent. I would receive over 300 cards from actors and theatres wanting me to see their shows," Trakes said. "I realized life would be easier if everything were comprehensible as to where everything was." She came up with the idea of creating a fax service for industry professional so they would know where certain shows and actors were playing. The publication soon began to catch the attention of local theatregoers and theatre tourists. The publication became a resource for an unknown entertainment market. In October 1998, Trakes finally opened an office and began "Show News" as a full publication. It currently has a circulation of 5,000 and is growing. Trakes is hoping to make Show News the information center of Off-Off Broadway past, present and future.
The publication contains more than 100 listings for Off-Off Broadway productions including cabarets, comedy clubs, dance performances and theatre, most of which charge less than $20.
Show News works to promote a theatre community that does not command the budget to promote itself. Trakes notes that Off-Off Broadway is a community, and together they can work to make themselves a strong genre of theatre in New York. Trakes is using Show News to generate corporate sponsors for Off-Off Broadway. By cross-marketing sponsors and shows, Trakes hopes to create a more interactive theatre experience.
"When you go to a Broadway show, you can buy merchandise, and there are things to look at," Trakes said. "Off-Off Broadway is so small, it can not be as stimulating." Trakes believes corporate sponsors will be able to create a more interactive show. For her, Off-Off Broadway is an exciting line of theatre. It offers an inexpensive alternative to what she calls, "today's commercialized, high-priced entertainment."
For information about Show News, call (212) 399-4165.
-- By Becki Heller