Matt Holleman on Ovature Studios early rise
Throughout his multi-decade long career, actor, singer, and talk show host, Brian Stokes Mitchell has made quite a name for himself.
Most recently he could be seen in a cameo in Netflix’s Tick Tick… Boom!. While a cameo may not seem like much, this one cemented the star affectionately known as Stokes as a legend. The part came during a scene director Lin-Manuel Miranda intended to be a love letter to Broadway. The song, titled Sunday, featured stars like Marc Shaiman, Beth Malone, and Bebe Neuwirth. Stokes was among the chosen few to be included in a number chalk full of legends.
NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are digital collectibles that have taken the crypto and collecting worlds by storm. Leveraging blockchain technology to validate ownership, these digital assets have become sought after by both crypto lovers and fans of all stripes. Companies, properties, and personalities across industries like sports, gaming, film and music have all leveraged NFTs to help market their products and bolster revenue. And now theatre has taken the digital stage.
George and Saul Co-Founder, Eric Neal, is shaking up theatre by introducing Third Act, the industry’s first NFT marketplace. And unsurprisingly, given his ubiquity in the theatre world, Stokes is lending his likeness to this groundbreaking endeavor with a series of NFTs.
The Stokes NFTs were ideated, designed, minted, and promoted by Third Act. And while being a quadruple threat may seem intimidating to some, it’s par for the course for Neal, who is used to wearing multiple hats from his work with George and Saul. In fact, George and Saul has experience in the theatre space, having produced Burn This, starring Adam Driver and Keri Russel, which earned three Tony nominations. From there, George and Saul helped produce a bevy of theatre projects, including shows like Herding Cats and Swept Away: The Musical, as well as having a hand in Stokes’s talk show, Crossovers Live!.
Given their history working in the medium, theatre NFTs seemed to be the logical next step. And while the communications company takes on clients like any agency would, they also focus on building their own brands. There’s no better example of the company’s brand building prowess building their own brands. There’s no better example of the company’s brand building prowess taking center stage than their work building Third Act. George and Saul invested time, money, and resources into the marketplace, while also bringing invaluable experience in the theatre industry to the table.
The results speak for themselves.
Third Act has been featured in outlets like Yahoo Finance and Broadway World. And in just a few short quarters, the marketplace has added an impressive repertoire of theatre properties to their NFT roster. Digital collectibles from groundbreaking shows like Herding Cats and personalities like Daniel J. Watts and Kristin Chenoweth have been added to the site’s digital stockpile. And much like their stable of stars and shows, the platform’s impact on theatre continues to grow.
That’s because both George and Saul and Third Act aren’t just changing the ways fans collect. They’re disrupting the entirety of the theatre industry. “There are so many stories that want to spill off stage, but no one is thinking about NFTs as a platform for them,” says Neal. Giving theatre productions a way to reach audiences off-stage isn’t just benefiting fans, it’s giving the entire industry a long overdue (and much welcome) shakeup.
Third Act’s marketplace allows audiences to purchase NFTs as well as sell and auction any collectibles that they own. The beauty of Third Act is that it gives the original IP owner a percentage of every transaction made through the platform. So actors, writers, and producers see royalties from every sale and auction their collectible is involved in, from the moment it is live on the platform until forever. This opens theatre productions to an evergreen source of revenue, something desperately needed in the wake of recent show closures.
But Third Act is not just giving shows new sources of revenue. It’s giving the entire industry a digital overhaul.
While theatre is a notoriously fickle business when it comes to new technologies, Neal sees crypto and Broadway as two peas in a pod. “Theatre can be seen as fringe, and so can crypto,” Neal says, “but they both have such passionate followings. They’re both such creative and supportive communities.” With help from the crypto community, the theatre industry can look forward to a bright digital future.
As the entertainment industry shifts to digital and VOD options, live entertainment is going to need to find ways to catch up. NFTs are the first step in bringing theatre into an online future. One needs to look no further than Third Act’s work with Herding Cats to see the playbook for how shows can combine NFTs and streaming into a potent strategy for overcoming a digital gap. And with George and Saul’s help, Third Act makes the NFT creation process easy.
Those who partner with Third Act aren’t just partnering with a marketplace, they’re partnering with a full-service communications agency in George and Saul that understands how to build brands and launch successful campaigns. Those looking to create NFTs for their shows or properties have access to a team of experienced designers and marketers, which can help those who feel lost in this brave new world take the steps needed to bring their shows digital.
Producers and IP owners can also look towards the likes of Brian Stokes Mitchell, and other industry leaders who have partnered with Third Act, for help in spreading the word about the digital collectibles.
“It’s great that such a respected artist is involved with Third Act,”
Neal said of Stokes.
“He’s a leader of industry and his involvement in Third Act’s NFTs can open actors to new ways forward in their career.”
Changing the way an industry thinks about itself can seem like an impossible task, one made even harder when the industry is so engrained in old models the way theatre is. But with groundbreakers like Brian Stokes Mitchell, Third Act, and George and Saul leading the way, the possible doesn’t seem all that impossible. In fact, it looks probable.
NEW YORK,Nov. 30, 2021 /CNW/ — Third Act, the first-of-its-kind NFT (Non-fungible token) marketplace for the theatre community, has launched a new collection of NFTs in collaboration with two-time Tony Award winner and Grammy Award nominee Brian Stokes Mitchell and his live streaming talk show “Crossovers Live!“. Built by Tony Award-nominated producers, Eric Neal and Jesse Hornstein, Third Act introduced an NFT marketplace specifically for theatre and was a first for the theatre industry. The company’s initial collection, released in June of 2021, featured digital collectibles from the Stellar Original production, Herding Cats.
The Third Act platform boasts an incredibly simple and easy-to-use crypto experience. The marketplace lists all of its available assets in USD and users can purchase NFTs directly with a credit card, meaning transactions can be made easily on one of the most eco-friendly platforms available today: Hedera Hashgraph. Using Hedera, Third Act’s carbon emissions are a fraction of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and even Visa transactions. And a portion of each and every sale goes directly back to productions, personalities, and IP owners.
Third Act’s engineering and resources come directly from their partnership with the HBAR Foundation to support the development and growth of the Third Act platform. Third Act is in the first cohort of companies receiving support from the HBAR Foundation, a grant-giving entity that was recently launched and plans to distribute upwards of $2.5 billion to projects building in the Hedera ecosystem.
Hedera and Third Act are some of the first companies that are taking advantage of USDC, a stablecoin pegged to a fiat currency (USD). With the recent introduction of USDC to the Hedera network, companies like Third Act will receive a boost from the integration of the stablecoin. Third Act currently accepts fiat currency via Stripe, with USDC integration in the near future.
“Third Act is the first platform of its kind specializing in theatre NFTs. The HBAR Foundation is proud to fund innovative projects that enable the entertainment industry and fans to engage with brands through Hedera,”
said Shayne Higdon, Executive Director & CEO at the HBAR Foundation.
“Additionally, Third Act is a very accessible application, presenting new technology in a way that is approachable to the everyday user and encouraging mass adoption of the Hedera network.”
With the release of this new collection in collaboration with Brian Stokes Mitchell, Third Act has marked yet another first for the industry. Mitchell, Chairman of The Actors Fund since 2014, has enjoyed a long and fruitful career both on stage and screen, and now NFTs. With this release, Mitchell becomes the first Broadway actor to digitize his likeness in the form of an NFT. This collaboration was commissioned by production company Atomic Focus Entertainment, which partnered with Third Act’s in-house NFT studio to produce the collection.
The digital collectibles will be released in conjunction with Mitchell’s interviews on “Crossovers Live!” with Broadway icons like Kristin Chenoweth, Bernadette Peters, Marc Shaiman, and more. “Crossovers Live!” is an intimate talk show streamed live and produced by Stellar Originals and Atomic Focus featuring actors who, like Mitchell, have made the jump from stage to screen. In addition to the Mitchell NFTs, a unique NFT collection for “Crossovers Live!” was produced by Third Act and is being used as digital keepsakes and to incentivize ticket buyers.
“Every producer should be looking at how they’re integrating NFTs with their next show. They’re a great way for fans to hold onto their favorite theatre moments, provide recurring revenue, and become a new vehicle for the story to continue.”
says Eric Neal, co-founder of Third Act.
“We made it super simple for producers to create and release NFTs.”
Third Act is among a growing number of organizations that has selected Hedera Hashgraph for its NFT offerings as Hedera has the industry’s most decentralized and transparent governance model, led by the Hedera Governing Council, ensuring reliability of the network. Furthermore, Hedera boasts low and predictable transaction fees, real-time settlement, and sustainable energy consumption due to its eco-friendly proof-of-stake consensus.
Third Act is a first-of-its-kind marketplace for theatre NFTs. Third Act hosts the next generation of fan merchandise. As both a marketplace and a service, Third Act is an end-to-end solution for productions looking to engage fans and extend the recoupment window for live theatre productions. For more information, visit ThirdAct.digital
Founded in 2021, the HBAR Foundation fuels the development of the Hedera ecosystem by providing grants and other resources to developers, startups and organizations that seek to launch decentralized applications in DeFi, NFTs, CBDCs, ESGs, gaming and other sectors. In addition to providing funding through a streamlined grant process, the HBAR Foundation acts as an integrated force multiplier through expert support across technical, marketing, business development and other operational functions that are required to scale. For additional information, please visit https://hbarfoundation.org/ or follow the Foundation on twitter @HBAR_foundation.
San Diego, CA –News Direct– Biosapien
BioSapien, a biotech company has announced it has raised $1.8M in seed round funding led by global venture capital investor SOSV. Co-investors in the round include Hikma Ventures, Microventures, Infinity Capital Ventures, JPIN VCATS, Side Door Ventures, and other high-net worth angels and investors (Additional investors listed below*). In addition to the seed round funding, a non-dilutive grant of $256K from the National Science Foundation will accelerate the development of BioSapien’s patented product, MediChip™: a 3D printed biodegradable mesh chip designed to deliver cancer drugs directly to the tumor site while reducing side effects.
“It’s great to have the support of these esteemed investors in BioSapien,”
says Dr. Khatija Ali, CEO and co-founder of BioSapien.
“The seed round funds will advance development of MediChip™ and give access to global distribution channels and manufacturing. Chemotherapy can cause devastating side effects for patients. MediChip™ is designed to deliver cancer drugs straight to hard-to-reach tumor sites, for increased efficacy with reduced toxicity.”
MediChip™ is a novel biodegradable drug delivery platform designed to precisely administer any type of FDA-approved drug, locally and in a sustained manner. Pre-clinical research shows that in comparison to systemic chemotherapy, MediChip™ mitigates systemic side-effects through localized controlled release. For cancer indications, it has the potential to improve the patient’s quality of care and life. It is designed to be a first-line treatment option for stage III locally advanced gastrointestinal cancer patients during surgery for adjuvant chemotherapy delivery. MediChip™ was granted its patent in February 2021 with a priority date of December 21, 2018.
The current clinical pipeline includes BioSapien’s lead indication of pancreatic cancer and others including lung cancer, esophageal cancer, and colorectal cancer. There are approximately 57,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer in the US every year.
Founded in 2018, in New York City, NY, BioSapien has already garnered global attention. In addition to the seed round funding and NSF grant which Inspiralia assisted in securing, BioSapien has been recognized in high profile biotech pitch competitions, winning the Pitch Night by Amazon and the Get in the Ring Start Up Competition. The company is currently a semi-finalist in the PacBio 2021 conference. Now, with backing from SOSV, Hikma, and JPIN VCATS, MediChip™ has strategic partners, financial backing, and global reach to progress towards achieving the goal of impacting patient care worldwide.
*Additional investors include; SOSV, Hikma Ventures, Microventures, Infinity Capital Ventures, JPIN VCATS, Side Door Ventures, Harbr, Beni VC, Cedas Foundation, Kartik Garg – The Modern Nomad, George and Saul, and other angels
BioSapien Inc. is a venture-backed biotechnology company focused on innovative therapies to transform patient care. The company invented MediChip™: a patented treatment that early research has shown can reduce the system-wide side effects of cancer chemotherapy treatments. The 3D printed biodegradable mesh is designed to allow for a more exact delivery of already approved FDA pharmaceuticals without the adverse effects. For more information, visit www.biosapien.com.
SOSV is a global venture capital firm headquartered in Princeton, NJ. The firm has more $900 million in assets under management and more than 1,000 portfolio companies. SOSV operates the startup development programs HAX (hard tech), IndieBio (life sciences), Chinaccelerator and MOX (cross-border growth in Asia) and dlab (blockchain). Sean O’Sullivan, a serial entrepreneur and technologist, is the founder of SOSV. The firm has 8 general partners and a 130-person staff across seven locations in the US, Europe and Asia.
Hikma helps put better health within reach every day for millions of people around the world. For more than 40 years, Hikma has been creating high-quality medicines and making them accessible to the people who need them. Headquartered in the UK, Hikma is a global company with a local presence across the United States (US), the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Europe, and uses their unique insight and expertise to transform cutting-edge science into innovative solutions that transform people’s lives. Hikma is committed to their customers, and the people they care for, and by thinking creatively and acting practically, Hikma provides them with a broad range of branded and non-branded generic medicines. Together, Hikma’s 8,600 colleagues are helping to shape a healthier world that enriches everyone’s communities. Hikma is a leading licensing partner, and through their venture capital arm, are helping bring innovative health technologies to people around the world. For more information, please visit: www.hikma.com.
Founded in August 2015, Hikma Ventures operates as the corporate venture capital arm of Hikma Pharmaceuticals. Hikma Ventures invests in global start-ups where Hikma’s expertise can accelerate revenue growth and enhance value creation by providing ventures with access to the resources of a multinational pharmaceutical company.
For more information, please visit www.hikmaventures.com.
Biosapien Inc. is a venture-backed biotechnology company focused on innovative therapies to transform patient care. The company developed MediChip®: a patented treatment that reduces the system-wide side effects of cancer chemotherapy treatments. The 3D printed biodegradable mesh allows for a more exact delivery of already approved FDA pharmaceuticals without the adverse effects.
Due to overwhelming demand from enthusiastic theatregoers in 42 states, Berkeley Rep has announced that the world premiere musical Swept Away will extend for an additional two weeks. Previews begin on Sunday, January 9 with the show originally scheduled to close on February 13. The musical will now run through Sunday, February 27.
Starting today, tickets for the added sixteen performances can be purchased online at berkeleyrep.org and by phone at 510 647-2949.
“This is such encouraging news as we prepare to welcome audience members back to the Theatre,”
affirmed Artistic Director Johanna Pfaelzer.
“It’s a testimony to people’s appetite for live theatre, and the shared experience it provides, and an optimistic sign for us as well as our colleagues in the Bay Area. We are delighted and proud to be able to share Swept Away with additional audiences.”
“We are honored that our new musical Swept Away is part of the return of live theatre and are thankful for everyone who will be traveling to Berkeley from around the U.S. and abroad to see it,”
said Seth Avett.
“This project has been years in the making and we can’t wait to share it with you all.”
Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening, Hedwig and the Angry Inch) blew the roof off Berkeley Rep in 2009 with Green Day’s American Idiot. Now he returns with a captivating world premiere musical, this time featuring a book by Tony Award-winning stage and screen writer John Logan (Red, Broadway’s Moulin Rouge!, Skyfall, Gladiator), and music and lyrics by “America’s biggest roots band” (Rolling Stone) and multiple Grammy Award nominee The Avett Brothers. Choreography is by David Neumann (Hadestown).
Swept Away is set in 1888, off the coast of New Bedford, MA. When a violent storm sinks their whaling ship, the four surviving souls – a young man in search of adventure, his older brother who has sworn to protect him, a captain at the end of a long career at sea, and a worldly first mate who has fallen from grace – each face a reckoning: How far will I go to stay alive? And can I live with the consequences?
Swept Away is produced by special arrangement with Matthew Masten, Sean Hudock, and Madison Wells Live.
Cast members include Wayne Duvall, Adrian Blake Enscoe, John Gallagher, Jr., and Stark Sands. Members of the ensemble include Taurean Everett, Cameron Johnson, Ben Toomer, Vishal Vaidya, and Jacob Keith Watson.
The creative team includes Chris Miller and Brian Usifer (music arrangement and orchestrations), Julie Wolf (music direction), Rachel Hauck (scenic design), Susan Hilferty (costume design), Kevin Adams (lighting design), and Kai Harada (sound design).
For the 2021/22 season, Berkeley Rep recognizes the generous support of BART and Peet’s Coffee, Berkeley Rep’s official season sponsors. Berkeley Rep is also delighted to recognize the support at the season sponsor level of Bruce Golden and Michelle Mercer, Frances Hellman and Warren Breslau, Wayne Jordan and Quinn Delaney, Gisele and Kenneth F. Miller, and The Strauch Kulhanjian Family. Swept Away is made possible by executive sponsors Lauren Edgerton, Jean and Michael Strunsky, and The Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Philanthropic Fund, and the Mosse Artistic Development Fund. Swept Away is a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award
Before the global disruption of COVID-19, the retail industry was already facing an unprecedented crisis. Record numbers of businesses filed for bankruptcy in 2019 and that trajectory was predicted to worsen in 2020. The virus will expedite the closure of many retailers and businesses around the world, serving as the nail in the coffin for many who were already struggling to adapt and survive.
Difficult choices will need to be made. Departments will be downsized, projects abandoned and budgets eviscerated. I’ve seen the process over a dozen times, working with one of our clients, a major asset disposition firm in the U.S. Over the years, my agency has orchestrated and executed marketing campaigns for distressed retailers and businesses to help them recover financially, or, as a last resort, assisted them in liquidating their business to maximize any and all possible returns.
Marketing is often victim to the first round of budget cuts within a struggling business. Paradoxically, marketing is also going to be the catalyst for recovery. In order to survive, customers need to know you exist. So how do you continue advertising when you’re short on cash and doing everything you can to preserve your company?
One avenue to consider would be corporate trade, or as it’s more commonly known, media barter. With barter, a distressed company can “sell” almost any asset to a barter agency in exchange for media credits. Basically, it’s marketing dollars in exchange for assets.
Historically, this practice has a bad reputation: in the past, Media companies would trade bad inventory in exchange for valuable products, resulting in poor campaign performance and ultimately damaging businesses even more. Today, however, there’s far more oversight and transparency. An agency like George and Saul will develop a media plan that is tailored to your business and work with the barter agencies and media companies to secure inventory that works within that plan. This oversight guarantees an effective campaign that helps your business by generating cash from unneeded assets and putting those dollars to work by increasing customer awareness and driving sales.
Another option would be to shift almost your entire retail footprint online. This process can be daunting, especially for retailers accustomed to brick and mortar stores, but an agency with experience in ecommerce can help you make the transition, establishing proper sales and marketing funnels to drive new and existing customers online. Having started our own ecommerce business, we know firsthand the challenges associated with operating an online retail store.
With the economy ravaged, many businesses will be faced with difficult decisions in order to remain profitable. Some will be forced to close, while others will need support to offload distressed assets and generate cash quickly. Working with an agency that has experience in the liquidation space can help you recover more efficiently and set your business up for success in the aftermath of this virus. Closing your business should always be a last resort and with the proper support, your company can pull through this challenging time.
George and Saul is a creative and media agency that specializes in retail, sports, alcohol and CPG marketing. They have developed and executed marketing campaigns for distressed retailers across North America, helping companies become profitable again in an age of disruption.
A new reality has set in. 13.3% of Americans are unemployed, a vaccine for COVID-19 is potentially years away, America is rife with strife and only 33% of U.S. consumers expect the economy to rebound in the next 3 months. A whopping 64% of Americans describe themselves as very or extremely concerned about the U.S. economy, while 63% are very or extremely concerned about not knowing how long the pandemic will last. It’s a grim portrait, but America is resilient, and crises have a history of spurring change.
As the country moves slowly toward easing restrictions, don’t look to simply “reopen”. You (and your competitors) have been at varying stages of paused for the last several months, which offers an unprecedented reset for your business to not just reopen, but reinvigorate, relaunch, and reimagine how your company emerges from this. Where you may have once clamored for every inch of business from others in your industry, the time to win market share is now, and is dependent on your ability to identify and adapt to the new consumer.
That change is on full display today. Consumer behavior is shifting rapidly, and new habits are being formed. Some of these behaviors include shopping on new websites, getting groceries delivered, using video conferencing for medical appointments, and gaming and streaming content more.
Americans are also shifting their brand loyalties. About one-fifth of American consumers have switched retailers and/or brands due to COVID-19, and around half of them intend to stick to their new choices.
All brands and retailers need to pay attention to these shifting habits as they represent an opportunity to rebound from this pandemic. It isn’t enough to employ the same old tactics and strategies. Things are not going to get back to “normal”. This is the new reality and now is the time for businesses to come back with a changed mindset and fresh approach in communicating and selling to customers. Some “musts” for all businesses are:
A user-friendly, compelling and fully functional e-commerce experience. A commitment to rebuilding consumer trust by demonstrating through action that their voices are heard. Customers need to hear that your business is taking all necessary safety precautions to protect them and your employees.
Flexibility. If you’re re-opening and expecting to recapture past splendor, you’re chasing ghosts. Everything has changed. The landscape, customer behaviors, the competition. Have you?