What do you want from your audience? Geoff Williams, 30 January 2013 The basic question that I had when proposing this session was ‘how is the audience defined for each piece of theatre’? The discussion began from assessing where considerations about the audience comes in to the creative process: - Should it be part of the writing or devising of a piece of work? In other words, should the artist write the work from the start with the audience in mind? - How do considerations about the audience define what kinds of work a theatre puts on? We agreed early on that these questions depend a lot on what kind of work is in question. But there were two distinct points of view in the discussion, one from the producers and one from the artists. They have different sets of considerations when approaching work. The artists argued that work should not be built around an audience, and the producers argued that taking on work had to do with keeping the theatre vibrant and alive, which revolved around audience consideration. This being said, they also said that theatres do take risks on new writing so it's not only economics that drive the decision. A useful outcome was the realisation that more of a dialogue between producers and artists would be useful. Artists do need to exist within the economic constraints of the times, and theatres which did not produce work which was successful would stop getting funding so they have to be pragmatic. A middle ground seems possible between artistic freedom and utilitarian economics, but it seems to begin with talks like this and events like D&D. Unfortunately, being good isn't enough for a piece of new work. It needs to be something which can be sold (to an audience) as well, and this is where the producer comes in. Perhaps more guidance from the producers earlier on would help, or artists learning some skills of producers. Tags: Audience, artist, audience, Funding, funding, producer, performer, Producer Comments: 1 Dee Ishani, 5 February 2013 It's an interesting though and if you want to stray from the ‘norm’ then the marketing of the show is very important. I think that we lack the language to communicate this change to an audience though and so it would need to be something - possibly to start with - that can be replicated. This means that you could build on it over a few shows as I don't think it's something that would necessarily ‘click’ with an audience first time. The other side of it is whether audiences want something different? And how to convert a large enough audience to sustain your work…..