Do we get the audiences we deserve?

Gordon Duffy-McGhie, 11 July 2012

Present: Anthony; Teresa; Vicki; Callum; Shelly; Selina; Luke; Anthony; Kate; Gordon; Christopher (and some butterflies!)

Our discussion was varied, particularly as we were a mix of young theatre makers (of the future), educators, directors, venue managers and promoters.

In no particular order asked:

Do our ideas (as artists) translate for our audiences? If not why not and what are we/ can we do about it? One answer was that we needed to re-educate ourselves so we have the skills needed for this ‘digital age’.

Do we underestimate ourselves/our product/our audience/ our ambitions/ our ‘worth’?

Generally speaking we all answered yes to all of the above.

Why don't we address ‘first principles’ and, as theatre makers, ask ourselves: ‘Who’s going to see this thing I/we made'? Do we have ‘target audiences’ in mind? Have we considered how we're going to make contact with them? If not - why not?

The ‘digital revolution’ is often conspicuous by its absence, in terms of artists/makers providing the raw materials needed to populate digital platforms.

Audiences - ARE OUT THERE! How do we reach them? Why are our educators not equipping young people with the skills and abilities to reach new audiences and develop existing ones?

How do we as artists engage in the marketing debate? Do we plan to engage with our audiences early enough in the production process? What would the benefits be if we did? In order to do this we need to need to talk to our venues - start a marketing conversation, share our ideas and be realistic about who and how many people we think our work will appeal to.

Why does ‘bad’ work get ‘good’ audiences - unfortunately we'll never succeed in making the ‘subjective’ ‘objective’, however hard we may try.

The more we spoke the more questions we posed and the less obvious the answers seemed to be - but for a first session IT ROCKED!

Tags: audience, audiences, Audience, marketing

Comments: 1

corinne wahlberg, 14 November 2013

While I do think marketing plays into it, my question would be why are we building the piece of theatre we're building? Does this matter to an audience or audiences?

That doesn't mean you make art exclusively by what you think people will want to see.

To me, I'm only interested in working with companies who have a clear vision of who they want to present to right from the start. They build their theatre piece with the audience they have in mind from day one. Whether they're making it for the people that loved the last show or are looking to broaden their audiences outside of the niche they've carved out for themselves by building work that appeals to broader audiences, the first conversations about making new work should always include, who is this for?