Up Close and Personal
An Interview with Mr Michel Boersma
Senior Vice President – Family Entertainment & Theatre
Live Nation Entertainment, United Arab Emirates
- Live Nation Entertainment is a global brand. What can we expect of the UAE operations? What is your focus or current priorities?
I have joined Live Nation in March 2016 to start, within the UAE office, a unit which focusses on family entertainment, exhibitions and theatre. We focus on producing and managing international and global tours. Live Nation’s core business of course is music so what we are doing is new but nonetheless proving to be successful. We have been able to bring together an eclectic portfolio of shows which we either (co-)own or manage/produce on behalf of partners. Currently our roster consists of the award winning Meet Vincent Van Gogh, an immersive exhibition produced by the renowned van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam), Cartoon Network Live!, The Art of Banksy with 80 original pieces, the NY hit show iLuminate, Marvel Avengers Station and Circus 1903. We are currently focussed on building strong partnerships and alliances with producers, local presenters and venues allowing us to tour exciting shows and exhibitions.
- You have an interesting series of exhibition like Marvel Avengers Station, The Art of Banksy and Meet Vincent Van Gogh. Do share with our readers some interesting facts about these exhibitions.
I originally was not planning for us to manage or produce exhibitions but when you get approached by the van Gogh museum or get the chance to create an exhibition with 80 original Banksy artworks, you don’t say “no”. Immersive exhibitions are a new and exciting mix of education and entertainment and now an important part of our portfolio.
- What is the current arts scene like in Dubai?
Dubai has seen some exciting developments in the arts scene recently. This includes the opening of the Dubai Opera House last year. It has been impressive to see their team bring first class shows to the region, like Les Misérables and Mary Poppins and have the theatre find its audience. I am discovering more and more alternative cultural events which are starting to give the city a vibrancy. That said: Dubai will never be like London, Berlin or New York but I am happy to see more and more is happening. I expect Live Nation and our family entertainment unit to have its own role in this. For example; we are working on bringing four of our exhibitions and family shows to the city within the next six months.
- What is the greatest challenge faced in your job as the Senior Vice President and how do you overcome it?
Creating a new activity like family entertainment within a large organisation can be a challenge since it is not a core business focus. In the end, it is all about good communication, taking colleagues outside your core team with you on “the journey”, make them also feel ownership of what we are trying to achieve with the unit. The support we are getting from within the Live Nation Middle East office, and the company at large, allows us to go beyond what I thought was possible when I started this adventure. I often feel like a kid in a candy store, being able to produce exciting shows and tours, working with passionate people and having our shows entertain audiences worldwide.
- Tell us a little about yourself – what were you doing before this and how you came to Live Nation Entertainment?
I have wanted to become a theatre producer since I was six years old and feel blessed that I have been able to turn my hobby into my profession. I produced my very first show, a new musical, when I was 24 and at the time became the youngest commercial producer in The Netherlands. For 18 years, I independently produced international tours of musicals, concerts and family entertainment like The Who’s Tommy, Dora The Explorer Live and Fuerzabruta, which broke the box office record of the Edinburgh Festival and won the Herald Angel Award. In 2014, Stage Entertainment asked me to join their company as Director Global Touring. Live Nation Middle East was my local presenter for Madagascar Live and Ice Age Live, and invited me to join them to develop and build a new family entertainment and theatre unit. It is extremely exciting to be part of a worldwide organisation, with passionate people who are interested in being the best at what they do. Very inspirational and fulfilling!
- Do you play an instrument or participate in any forms of art?
No, but I do use all my creativity in my work. I am a hands-on producer, not one who stays behind his desk. We have just launched Cartoon Network Live and I love the (technical) rehearsal process, working together with the creative team and actively bringing a show from page to stage.
- Tell us one thing interesting that most of your colleagues do not know about you?
If they don’t know, I probably would like to keep it that way. 🙂
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