An Addiction That’s Good for the Soul
It is undeniable that the performing arts industry is under-going major changes. With the innovation in technology and a shift in audience demands, art institutions are trying to attract and reach a rapidly changing audience before it is too late. Red Curtain Addict, a performing arts start-up in San Francisco, has set out to “unite the arts” by making the arts easily accessible, approachable, and fun to a new and young audience.
Written byCorry Cook
Red Curtain Addict produces behind-the-scenes videos, insider articles, and exclusive events for young audiences to explore and experience the arts in the Bay Area across genres, including opera, jazz, symphony, theater, dance, and more. Gentry sat down with Co-Founders Kari and Parker Coomans to find the inspiration behind their new company.
GENTRY: Looking back, did your paths clearly lead you to Red Curtain Addict, or is this venture a complete departure from what you set out to do?
Kari Coomans: I actually set out to be either a professional musician or mana-ger of a symphony. I’m from Oklahoma and graduated from the University of Tulsa with a BA in Arts Management. I wanted to be part of the Bay Area art scene so badly, and I moved out here and didn’t have a job and lived on my brother’s floor. My first job here was with the San Francisco Symphony, which was a dream job! I worked with the ballet as well, and later as the Vice President of the BRAVO! Club Board of the San Francisco Opera.
Parker Coomans: I was previously at LivingSocial, where I was a Sales Director, but my background really comes on the business side. When Kari came up with this brilliant concept of the Red Curtain Addict and I started diving into the arts, I started to see that there was an opportunity here; the arts really haven’t had the same resources that other parallel industries have had. I felt like there was a hole and a lost business opportunity. So that’s what Red Curtain Addict is here to do: help fill those holes.
“I think people want to immerse themselves in culturally rich experiences. It’s a very ‘Instagram lifestyle’ right now—everyone wants to live for not only themselves, but for their followers, so to speak. A sense of belonging is what the millennial generation is looking for, and we select the opportunities within the arts to do that.”
GENTRY: You say RCA’s mission is to “bridge the culture gap between performing arts institutions and a rapidly changing audience.” How are you doing that?
kc: If you speak to the people who don’t frequent the arts much and you ask, “Hey, have you ever been to an opera?” a lot of the time the first things out of their mouths are: I don’t have the time and I can’t afford it. We all have to work harder to make access easier and break down those perceptions. Red Carpet Addict isn’t just going to the opera, or just the symphony; we offer you an array of experiences. People are on the go, and they want to be able to quickly access what is happening in the city. We help simplify that process.
pc: I think people want to immerse themselves in culturally rich experiences. It’s a very “Instagram lifestyle” right now—everyone wants to live for not only themselves, but for their followers, so to speak. A sense of belonging is what the millennial generation is looking for, and we select the opportunities within the arts to do that. It’s all part of this network that they can go to the arts together, form a community. I think that’s the way forward for Red Curtain Addict.
GENTRY: If you could give your 20-year-old self some career advice, what would it be?
kc: I would say, follow your passion, no matter what or who says not to. I think where your passion lies is where your success will be. That’s what happened to me. I veered away from arts for a while, but my heart always went back to it and I found more success when I did that.
pc: I would say start now, because it is going to take longer than you expect. Start as early as you can, and go for it, because you are going to learn, you are going to make mistakes, you are going to evolve. But if you go with your gut and you go with your passion and you start now, by the time you’re our age you will be further along than we are today.
Women’s health focus.