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Featured Sponsor: BiCoastal Productions

BiCoastal Productions logo

Cream rises to the top. So does exceptional talent. So, too, do exceptional agents who create and negotiate the artful deals that put talent into venues.  As one of the fastest-growing entertainment booking agencies in the industry, BiCoastal Productions prides itself on its eye for talent AND on the integrity, respect and professionalism with which they match the right talent to the right venue.  Whether it’s one of their exclusive roster artists, a terrific tribute act, an emerging new artist or a major marquee name, when you are booking with BiCoastal, you are doing business with the crème de la crème. That is BiCoastal Productions. Entertainment Rising.

We wanted to learn more about BiCoastal Productions' history and activity, so we asked Chief Marketing Officer Fran Heller a few questions. Here's what she had to say:

How long has your organization been in business and what about your organization makes you so proud? 
BiCoastal Productions has been in the live entertainment business since 2009.   The agency evolved as an outgrowth of the “second life career” as a touring singer of its founder Ron Gartner. Ron started singing professionally at a later stage in life when he tired of his work as a textile executive, buying fabrics from manufacturers (many of them in the Carolinas!) and selling them to retail outlets across the country. This middleman experience in the competitive, cutthroat textile industry served him well as he transitioned from “sew business” to “show business”. Ron’s experience as a touring singer made him sensitive to the needs of artists which served him well as he transitioned from representing himself to representing other talented entertainers. Initially, the artists that joined BiCoastal’s roster were tribute bands primarily from the Northeast U.S. However, in order to be attractive to larger venues on a national basis, it was important for BiCoastal to secure its own exclusive artists. It was when BiCoastal signed The Hit Men as an exclusive artist in December of 2010 that the agency started on its path toward explosive growth and industry recognition. BiCoastal’s success turning this group of music sidemen into a headlining act commanding over $1MM in fees each year attracted other exclusive artists to BiCoastal. From a single desk in a small sublet office and just Ron booking shows in 2009, the agency now includes Ron and me as his business partner/wife, plus 6 regional agents and a terrifically eclectic roster of nationally known artists. This amazing success story in what started out as a brand new industry for BiCoastal’s founders is what makes us so very proud.

How has your business adapted during the pandemic?
Necessity is the mother of invention. Like many businesses, we gave up our physical office and began working remotely. Most of our staff of regional agents were furloughed, but we retained and promoted long-term employee Jack Forman to be President of the agency. With his help, expertise and Millennial’s perspective, we put together a new staff of experienced regional agents and became very involved with virtual programming and livestreaming. Since April of 2020, BiCoastal Productions has been working with over 200 venues nationwide to help them create their own digital seasons -- curating, staging and promoting their own virtual programming series – as a means by which to keep audiences engaged while stages remain dark. The digital season tutorials were taught by me as BiCoastal’s Chief Marketing Officer; my professional background pre-BiCoastal includes over 35 years as a senior marketing/advertising agency executive creating campaigns for major Fortune 500 corporations. BiCoastal’s digital season program includes a wide variety of pre-recorded content from the agency’s exclusive artist roster offered to presenters free of charge. While no one is making a lot of money on virtual programming, the digital season program has served as an important bridge from shutdown to eventual reopenings for venues and artists alike, and has won praise for BiCoastal from coast to coast.

What project(s) are you most excited about?
During the pandemic, we were instrumental in helping a talented actor we have known for the past 5 years create a brand new show called “Smokey & Me: A Celebration of Smokey Robinson”.  The show stars Charl Brown, who was Tony nominated for his role as Smokey in the Broadway smash hit “Motown: The Musical”.  As the story goes, Smokey Robinson, a founder of Motown and one of the producers of “Motown: The Musical”, went backstage on opening night to look for Charl and when he found him, he came up to him, smiled and simply said, “Hello, Me!”. This delightful story became our inspiration for this terrific new production that celebrates the life, music and careers of Smokey Robinson and the handsome, talented young man who portrayed him on Broadway.

What’s the most memorable performance you’ve ever seen? 
Bryan Cranston is one of America’s best actors. We saw him about a year ago in the Broadway play “Network”, based on the movie of the same name. His Tony-winning performance as news anchorman Howard Beale who descends into a nervous breakdown and is reborn as a torchbearer for the populist rage of the nation (giving new life to the infamous rant “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” was a true tour de force. It was an acting master class by one of this century's great stars in a production that inventively pushed boundaries and lifted the bar for the capabilities of live theatre.

Our sincerest thanks to Fran, Ron, Jack, and BiCoastal Productions for their longtime support and sponsorship! For more information, visit www.bicoastalproductions.com.