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Broadway Investment Goes Digital with ‘On The Town’

Not to contradict that “Avenue Q” tune, but the Internet isn’t just for porn anymore. Now it’s for Broadway investing too.

Maxolev Prods., the Broadway production shingle led by Howard and Janet Kagan (“Pippin,” “Porgy and Bess”), has launched an online investment platform for Broadway shows — the first since the JOBS Act, the 2012 modification to SEC regulations that aims, in part, to bring the democratization of crowdfunding to the process of raising capital for small startup companies. A Broadway production, produced by an LLC of partners and investors, qualifies.

It’s not quite Kickstarter for Broadway, but it’s something Broadway has been poised to take a swing at since the JOBS Act went into effect.

“When we go out looking for investors, a lot of us on Broadway are talking to the same people all the time,” said Howard Kagan. “The principal thing this accomplishes is it reaches out to a new universe of accredited investors.” Maxolev is giving their new online portal a shot with the company’s upcoming Broadway production, the fall revival of “On The Town” (pictured above in its 2013 run at Barrington Stage); if it proves successful, Kagan said he expects to keep using the portal to raise funds for future projects.

Where as anyone can chip in to a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, the JOBS Act requires investors solicited via the Internet to meet the benchmarks of an accredited investor — with, for example, an annual individual income of $200,000 or a trust with assets in excess of $5 million. In exchange, the parties ponying up are treated a true investors who can expect returns should a project turn a profit; crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, on the other hand, drum up donations that don’t legally entitle donors to a financial stake in what they support.

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The site for Maxolev Prods. (built with Wealth Forge) will allow users to invest in individual productions online, with a minimum investment set at $10,000.

Broadway has tried crowdfunding before, with producer Ken Davenport raising some $2.5 million of his budget for the  revival of “Godspell” via crowdfunding. (That show didn’t recoup, so none of its investors turned a profit either.) In the U.K., where regulations are somewhat less strict that they are Stateside, young producer Jamie Hendry used a similar online portal to raise £1 million ($1.7 million) of the $10.7 million budget for his upcoming West End musical version of “The Wind in the Willows.”

Kagan said he’d be happy if Maxolev managed to raise $1 million of the projected $8.5 million capitalization for “On the Town” via the new digital channel. As with the analog version of Broadway investment, capital can be raised on the site up until the opening night of “On the Town,” set for Oct. 16 at the Lyric Theater.

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