Audience Engagement. Lets start at the beginning…

…as it’s a very good place to start.

For one of my university modules, we are asked to write a reflective blog and on one particular topic I found I could write about it endlessly: fundraising. Exciting, I know. In reality, however, it wasn’t fundraising I was discussing, rather a basic principle of a running theatre: audience engagement. And based on how immersed I became, I feel it is only fair to share it on a more public forum. Besides, I can get away with a lot more here and not worry about losing marks.

Generally speaking, the age category I belong to (student) is what many theatres and theatre companies are supposedly targetting, aiming to get as many of us through the door. It is an age old question: not only getting audiences into theatre, but in turn a younger audience. And here’s the issue: simply put, the average student does not have the money to spend on food for the week let alone a show. Even with concessions, an average show within Edinburgh will cost near £10, unless you go to a matinee production, and those aren’t always on offer. Sure, the show’s topic has to be enticing, but so do the ticket prices. Like many things these days, if they were considerably lower, or more regular offers, there’s is a greater chance of audience growth.

Using Glasgow’s Citizen’s Theatre as an example, if I lived there or had more money to make the commute every week, I would probably spend a large part of my life in that theatre. Productions are invariably of a higher quality, and in addition it is a wonderful place. It may seem biased since once upon a time I performed there, but in reality it is a very good venue. Not only that, but each month they announce a one day 50p ticket sale. Again, if I could afford the commute I would be there.

Tying in with another element discussed in class – the ‘become a friend/patron’ element – if companies are targeting younger individuals into these offers, they face yet another obstacle: income. Realistically, who under the age of 30 has real monetary certainty bar the bank of Mum and/or Dad? By it’s own right, this excludes the younger audiences from becoming a friend and undermines the very targeting they attempt.

My conclusion on this is that if theatres and companies are determined to get younger audiences through the doors and at their shows, ticket prices and marketing strategies have to be reconsidered. Many times have I been at a show with the price of a ticket in the double figures, and many times I have been glad that I didn’t pay for said ticket, simply because the show didn’t deliver. Obviously this could largely be down to my personal taste, and it also depends on the venue (if you succeed in gaining a ticket for the ROH for a tenner, that isn’t something sniff at) but these days there is an expectation that comes with a high price for something, i.e. value for money.

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One thought on “Audience Engagement. Lets start at the beginning…

  1. Reblogged this on Laidig's Broadway and commented:

    Day 3 of the 30 Day Zero to Hero challenge.

    This was my blog’s first post, and I still stand by why I decided to get into the blogsphere: I don’t think enough people talk about theatre. Sure, they talk about the actors, how pretty the set was, but outside of the industry, I’m not convinced enough people know what it takes to get a show on stage and therefore aren’t able to give the critique that, frankly, a lot of companies need. I don’t do reviews, I do critiques from the all-round perspective – performer, writer director, techie, stage manager, scenographer, general-person-in-the-background-awaiting-instructions. I can’t hack the jargon of ‘theatre texts’ – don’t get me wrong, fascinating read, but they are never written for anyone except those who already understand it. So I write critiques anyone can understand. And because I want to. What can I say, I’m a giver.

    I also can’t be a typical ‘luvvie’ because I work too hard to have my creative output reduced to a 70s stereotype, where everything was resolved by throwing money at it. Personally, I think the less money involved, the better, but that’s a story for another time. Happy day 3!

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