Curb College recently hosted industry professionals from War Memorial Auditorium (WMA) for a seminar on building a venue’s brand. Brent Hyams, chief operating officer of WMA and TPAC and Roger LeBlanc, talent buyer for WMA and other venues served as guest panelists. Both discussed how they have contributed to the organization’s brand.
Hyams began with a brief lesson on the rich history of WMA. It was built in 1925 to honor Tennesseans who fought and died in World War I. The venue served as the Grand Ole Opry’s home from 1939-1943, a frequent stop in the African American Theater Touring Circuit and the Nashville Symphony’s site from the time it opened in 1925 until 1980.
A new brand for the venue was built in 2010. “Our new objective was to empower the WMA brand and identify and cultivate the WMA audience,” said Hyams. This brand included the creation of WMA’s first logo, an independent website, direct phone number, documentary and an incorporation of history and meaning into the venue.
Hyams told students that they renovated whatever they could, whenever they could from backstage to front of house. This included a full revamping of the dressing rooms, backstage area and main lobby.
According to Hyams, A venue brand doesn’t lie just within the venue itself, but also in the talent it puts on stage. WMA’s new brand included the creation of a WMA Talent Buyer to do just that. LeBlanc was hired for this position in July of 2011.
LeBlanc stressed the importance of selling shows that people want to see and the experiences they want to have. “Find the acts that are right for the room,” LeBlanc said. “Sell that experience.”