How do we convince audiences to join us on our imaginative and exciting journeys?

Convener(s): Simon Bedford

Participants: About 10 people

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

A quiet session to start with – but people drifted over!

We started by talking about the challenges of selling work that wasn’t mainstream – i.e. devised, original, no big name cast etc

There were particular challenges with touring work into small-scale venues and performing in front of v small audiences.

We there went a bit scientific and started talking about commercial marketing ploys – someone mentioned the service design discussion – providing plenty of touchpoints – i.e. opportunities for audiences to discover your work. Or making people envious of the people who actually saw your show.

There was also discussion about trying to increase the number of new adopters to come along to the work.

Marketing = people psychology, scientific and creating emotional connections

Example of Will Power – an American perf poet at BAC. He made a clear connection with his audience and they were encouraging people to come along even whilst they were watching the show. He clearly made a connection!

Andrew McIntyre’s (?) Audience Builder – encouraging people to try different things and building up their attendance. Trying to get people to see shows like other shows they like

Danger – that stuff becomes too similar and not unique.

Is it patronising to think that we should convince audiences to come along on this journey? Audiences are actually very discerning – good work will always find an audience somehow – Edinburgh being a good example of this.

Sultan’s Elephant – an example of theatre that did very little marketing but found an audience of millions – most people who saw it probably didn’t think of it as theatre

London audiences are often made up of theatre professionals. Outside of London, audiences are real and therefore need more convincing to take risks.

Theatre will always appeal only to a niche. How do find those niches – isn’t it easier now that we can find our niches through the internet. Suggestion of

Maybe we shouldn’t expect anyone to come to our work.

Building audiences is important – it’s about investing in your future. You need to invest resources, time and money in marketing.