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Consumer Protection of Ticket Buyers
Legislative Update

Diane Willcox, Wharton Center for Performing Arts
Wharton Center has been a staunch advocate of consumer protection for ticket buyers and patrons of performing arts events throughout the state of Michigan.
 
On Tuesday, May 29, Wharton Center staffers Jarrod Bradford and Diane Willcox joined Katie Peters, representing Live Nation, in testifying to the Michigan House of Representatives Committee on Commerce and Trade in opposition to House Bill 4224.
 
The bill, sponsored by Representative Tim Kelly, (Saginaw), strikes out all of the existing protections against traditional forms of scalping. HB 4224 does add protections against the use of BOTS to disrupt ticket sales by outlawing the use of software created for the specific purpose of buying out ticket inventory or purchasing faster than individual patrons can purchase on their own. It also has a provision to bar the use of venue names within urls that lead to unauthorized secondary ticket broker sites. 
 
Wharton Center testified against the bill because our stance is that, while we support the added protections, federal law already currently protects us against the use of BOTS; and there are other protections regarding the use of fraudulent websites provided within state law. However, by striking existing protections - including the removal of current law that specifies tickets can only be sold by entities with express written approval from the venue - this bill opens the door to more aggressive reselling of our tickets by scalpers. In addition, we feel strongly that speculative ticket sales - that is, the sale of our tickets by ticket brokers BEFORE the tickets are made available to the general public - should also be illegal.
 
At the opposite side of this issue is Ebay/StubHub, who has a clear interest in reselling tickets at the highest rates possible; Net Choice, advocates for reducing barriers to e-commerce; and Sports Fans Coalition, which has been advocating on behalf of scalpers.
 
This bill is actually the third version to be proposed in the Michigan House of Representatives within the past four years. The senate has had two different versions introduced in the same time period. Wharton Center has been involved in stopping each iteration of these bills as they come up.
 
In the long run, we think that individuals should be able to re-sell their tickets for face value plus the fees that they were charged. Currently, under Michigan law, you can resell your ticket at face value, but you cannot recoup your fees. What we object to is brokers who are selling tickets to our events, often before they even go onsale, at prices twice to ten times their initial face value. We also object to not having record of the final ticket holder - who then does not get the consumer protections they have a right to if they purchase directly from us, including refunds, exchanges, or important patron communications.
 
Ultimately, a ticket is a license to see our events - it has no value itself beyond the paper it is printed on. The true value is the performing arts experience - and thus the intellectual and artistic property which belongs to the artists, producers and presenters. By reselling our tickets at inflated prices, scalpers reduce the trust patrons have in us and in the artists; and the artists, producers and presenters do not receive market rate remuneration for our efforts.

For questions on ongoing arts legislation advocacy efforts, please contact Mike Brand.

Thank You for a Successful 2018 Conference!

Thank you to everyone who helped make the 2018 Michigan Presenters Conference a success, especially the Macomb Center staff for being terrific hosts!
 
June Business Meeting Report

1. Article V, Section III and Article VII, Section I of the organizational bylaws were unanimously amended to eliminate the contradictory language regarding the timing of elections for the Board of Directors. Elections will now take place every two years during the last quarterly meeting of the year, with the new board officers starting on January 1, in line with the start of the fiscal year. Organizational bylaws can always be found on our website.

2. Xavier Verna, Executive Director of the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts in Manistee, MI, was unanimously elected as Interim Vice President of Michigan Presenters. Xavier will serve in this role until the end of 2018. Congratulations, Xavier!

It was announced that board positions that will be open for election are president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary; current President Katie Trzaska-Miller will remain on the board as Immediate Past President. Nominations for these positions can be submitted at any time before the fall meeting to secretary Ellen Engle.

APAP Emerging Leaders Institute Applications due June 18

The APAP Emerging Leadership Institute (ELI) is an intensive two and a half-day seminar that takes place during the pre-conference of the annual APAP|NYC conference. Each year, APAP invites a new cohort of approximately 25 individuals with 3-7 years of experience to participate in this program where they will learn about leadership and then take that knowledge and apply it first-hand.
  • Develop critical leadership skills and tools that will help you take the next step in your career

  • Collaborate with and learn from other emerging arts leaders – your peers

  • Engage in new professional relationships, exchange ideas, and become part of a growing network of over 400 ELI alumni

  • Expand your individual perspectives to provide strategies that can permeate your organization

APPLICATION INFORMATION

"My experience with ELI was life-changing. The chance to have deep conversations with other professionals from across the country who think about and struggle with the same issues I do was incredibly inspiring, rewarding, and affirming. If you qualify for the program, definitely apply."
- Katie Trzaska-Miller, ELI 2018 alumni

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