Booking Agencies Battle
The programming in the Lyceums, Chautauquas, and other venues was usually arranged with the help of booking agencies or bureaus that competed for the attention of the venue manger, as in this cartoon.
Competition was fierce, because the reach of the different agencies was enormous. In the 1921–22 season, for instance, Affiliated Bureaus reported that ten and a half million people had paid admission to their Lyceum and Chautauqua events in four thousand towns.
Many illustrated lecturers were represented by bureaus or agencies. For instance, ten of the 43 lecturers featured in 1903 Star Lecture Bureau’s roster—or about a quarter of all their lecturers—were marked “Illus.” An “evaluation form” (shown) was filled out by the presenters and collected by the agencies to determine if performers should be re-hired. “Audience was (1) delighted, (2) pleased, (3) satisfied but not enthusiastic. Or, (4) unsatisfactory.” Top professionals often got 90%+ “delighted.”