Questions and Answers for The Millennials

Recently, one of our committee members prepared for a meeting by asking her Facebook friends what they’d like to see at The Grand. The answers were terrific, and I thought I’d reply to them in a post I’d share not only with them but with all of you as well.


The questions are in bold, my answers in standard type.


The original post:

 Need some input from everyone in their 20s and 30s who are in the Oshkosh or Fox Valley area (if you don’t meet these qualifications, but you have input, please feel free to share). We are attending a group brainstorming session tomorrow to discuss how to get the younger crowd interested in the Grand Opera House. What sort of activities/shows/events would get you to go there? Reminder, they do have a lounge there with a full bar-  a couple ideas I’ve tossed around with a few people are comedy nights, more music/bands, dinner theaters, and movie theme nights. Scary movie in The Grand?? Also maybe family nights?? Bring your kids for a family friendly live show or movie, or a dance? I’d appreciate everyone’s thoughts  thanks!


Maybe just better advertising I don’t know the last time I read saw or heard about anything going on at The Grand.

This is such a big part of the question. Several of the things mentioned on this thread are either already in place or have been tried before, which means that getting-the-word-out is the big part of the challenge! The question is, where do you look? Newspaper? TV? Radio? Online? Social Media? Funds for marketing are very limited and it’s easy for Grand to get “lost” in the shadow of larger marketing campaigns by others. Where do you go for your information? I’d love to know!


In the winter I think the movie nights would do great! Comedy nights too!!!!

Movies and comedy nights ARE great ideas. But it’s also important for us to be a good citizen of Downtown Oshkosh, and there are great outlets for each right now with the Time Theatre and Backlot Comedy House. We still do specialty movies, interactive comedy, and some stand-up, but we want to be sure to celebrate and support what’s already here, too!

Mystery murder dinner parties?!

Fabulous idea! In fact, stay tuned for the announcement of the new season (July 19) and keep February 24, 2015 free on your calendar!

Maybe run a special with a local restaurant like a date night special dinner somewhere and then a show. It would be simple planning

We currently have “hospitality partners” and 2014-15 is the first season they’ll be listed in the playbill. Maybe dinner specials can follow! (By the way, to become a “hospitality partner”, a restaurant need only contact Matt Miller in our office for details!)


Didn’t even know they had a fb page

The Grand’s Facebook is

And the Grand Lounge is

Remember to both “like” and “follow” each page, if you want updates/offers!


Or a show and then dessert somewhere after or even there if they can do catering in

The Grand Lounge is open after most performances, with a full bar, coffee, and a bar menu that includes pizza, nachos, popcorn, and desserts. This is the year to spread the word and plan to stay after the show


Dinner and a movie is always good. But think of this…..when going

To a movie you need

1.babysitter $30

2. Ride gas etc $10

3. Dinner $60+

Why not have an event that you charge $100 for the night and you offer child care in building, limo service and dinner? Them it’s easy in couples and the company is getting all the pieces of the nights funds all in house?

This is a great idea but truth is, child care and transportation are add-ons that require space, insurances, and so on. Doesn’t make it a bad idea (as I said it’s a great one), just a little more complex to try.


More family fun. Kids love music but there are rarely any music shows there that are geared towards the younger ones. Oshkosh is a very family oriented community and generally speaking, if it’s reasonably priced (cheap) MANY will show up.

Family programming has been tried…and to be honest, failed, in the past. It’s a question of making sure you get something that adults enjoy bringing the kids to, and still be able to keep those kids prices as low as possible. Math, is often my worst enemy. BUT. For the people on this thread, it’s a pretty important piece of the puzzle. In September, I head to the trade shows to begin planning for the following season. And I will keep my eyes open! After all, I have a grandson that needs entertainment!


Time of day for that kind of stuff makes a big difference too…we’ve skipped out on many events throughout the community due to a start time of either 1:00 or after 7:00 (some kids need their sleep or they turn into monsters!)

What IS the ideal start-time, in your opinions?


More live bands catering to our age group. I’d love to see an indoor Waterfest (or better) style music lineup for the winter season. Always looking for fun/cheap entertainment when it’s cold!

Recommend you start by checking out AFTERWALK, our Grand Lounge series that runs on first Saturdays along with Gallery Walk. It does not happen when there’s a live show that night, but there are generally about 9 months a year that it does. Local musician/band is featured, no cover, bar and bar menu are available. More on this in a comment that follows.


I don’t know if they already have more casual events but I know when I think about The Grand I think about having to get all dressed up

Oh my! This is a terrible misunderstanding that I thought we changed years ago! Very few events at Grand are “dress-up-only” events. Audiences are much more often in sweaters and dockers/jeans these days. I would guess that I am in jeans and a blazer more than 80% of the time, even to introduce acts from the stage, and I am arguably the most visible person at Grand. Of course, there are ALWAYS some events where people dress up a little more, and some people just enjoy dressing up to go out. But for the most part, The Grand is much more casual than one might think!

Maybe even some speakers? I remember when we lived in Minneapolis, we went and saw this author speak. He had written a book about his own struggles with addiction and that’s what his talk was about. Very interesting!

Speakers are relatively easy to present, harder to get an audience. It’s a great thing if we have an interested partner, as we did with the Oshkosh Public Library to present Michael Perry a few years ago. And I am always up for working with a partner!


Also, ever try running a groupon? Usually works to bring out new customers to view what your establishment is all about for a teaser rate.

We have used Groupon, and will likely play with it some more in the season to come.


Maybe they should touch base with The Riverside down here? Lots of smaller shows maybe they could piggyback of their performers and have them up for a stop in the Fox Valley?

This is where the math bites us. With only 500-600 seats, the capacity at Grand is a quarter of Riverside/Pabst/Turner Hall, which are all run by the same organization—and VERY well. To do the same act, in our hall, even with a favorable tour route (we call it “routing”), often needs a ticket that is substantially higher. Sometimes, though, it works. The Jeff Daniels concert in August happens not only because Jeff likes playing The Grand, but also because there are routings in Madison and Milwaukee as well as Michigan. I’ve always got my eyes open and when the math works to allow for a reasonable ticket price, we are ready to go.


As far as bands—I am actually talking with several that fit the desires of this thread. But I’ve found that many of them prefer flat-floor halls like venues in Milwaukee and Madison, rather than fixed-seat venues like Grand. Occasionally, one crops up at venues like ours in Green Bay or Milwaukee, and that’s when I start researching. It’s an ongoing process, but it’s definitely something I’m working on!


Thanks to all of you who participated. And, watch for news on THE CLUB, an online/virtual community that will be the place to go to find out the goings-on for your group, both in the Grand Lounge and at The Grand.


In the meantime, share this note with friends, and encourage them to like and follow the Facebook pages. It’s still a great way to “spread the word”


See you at The Grand….and in the Lounge.

Joe Ferlo, Director, Grand Opera House




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