Called by Alister Lownie

Attendees included some who dropped in and out, as well as:
Hannah Tookey
Frances Rifkin
Arne Pohlmeler
Tom Briggs
Jo Crowley
Nassy Konan
Bob Entwistle
Nick Sweeting
Anna Coombs
Katherina Radeva

Initial discussion about experiences of touring work identified strong audiences for rural touring, festivals and in some studio theatres (including places where there is no 'main house'), but noted real difficulties in other studios.
Frustration on the part of artists comes from a seeming lack of audience development strategy in these venues.
Lack of marketing resource in venues cannot be balanced from artists unless there is very tight audience focus with invested community -- examples included cyclists (Marco and Ventoux) or people of colour (Black Men Walking,) -- as the required marketing resource pushes costs of required funding beyond what seems reasonable.
(This is a clear question to test: what is an appropriate marketing spend relative to anticipated audience?)
There is little sign that these audiences, recruited for individual shows, return to other programmed work at a venue.
In positive experiences, conversation noted:
-clear programming style (which may mean 'strategy'), which means audiences know roughly what to expect and can come back for more
-obvious interest in audience development and marketing at the venue, apparent in willingness to have conversations and spend time actioning things as a result
-longer runs allow for audiences to build and momentum to build in each place
-national critical response does not always influence local audiences (for better or worse)
-targeting local community with offers is effective in engaging people who might not think theatre is for them

None of this is radical, but it's interesting to compare with less successful experiences:
-conversation with marketing teams focuses on the venue's lack of time
-marketing teams don't watch much/any work in this area
-crossover with more traditional audiences is refuted as an idea
-programmers don't seem to speak to marketing teams and explain why work is programmed and who might come (especially frustrating when they've seen it live)
-programming can be ticking a box (contemporary, disability, BAME...) but the presenter organisation isn't behind the work, and nobody advocates for it (seen in small regional venues and high profile London ones)

Other systemic queries were raised:
-are audiences getting smaller?
-how can more buildings be made 'buzzy' in the way successful ones seem to have realised matters?
-how do we achieve a shift in public attitudes to the arts, and live theatre?
-can theatre benefit from Netflix' diverse and varied work becoming popular?
-how do the ambassador/friend initiatives from some visiting companies impact on audiences for other work?
-it's the fundamental role of venues to build the trust of their audiences: too few do

A few other points that came up:
-quality of work is key
-data can reveal unexpected information: over 70% new audiences at a long run against venue expecting returnees in one example
-there is no "national arts centre" equivalent to the national theatre -- and the national theatre certainly doesn't champion devised, interdisciplinary or process-led work in a sustained manner -- so there's no high-profile champion
-what have Future Arts Centres discovered on this subject?
-NT Live may take slots from live programming in a given season, but early research suggested live capture helps bring audiences to theatre (both newcomers and adding frequency): can more of this happen for contemporary work rather than NT?

The subject requires further research into
-what has been achieved through UKtheatre and other research into this subject
-whether a consortium of venues and artists could create a successful scheme to build audiences over sustained period of toured work
-how to build wider public profile of the artform
-what's different internationally, where many companies find the problem simply doesn't exist: the venues already have the trust of their audiences, and there's an appetite for the unfamiliar