What makes a good venue?

Convener(s): Jules Munns

Participants: We didn’t take a full list, sorry


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Creating a home for artists

Being located in a good place

How to find/make the motherhood in the apple pie

Senior staff who say hello to everyone


What is the difference between the artists and the audience?

A place where you want to be, even when there is not a show to see.

A café full of interesting and creative people

A place to get a coffee and sit all day

Cosiness, not feeling too exposed to the outside world


Engaging everyone who works in the building, a place where even the cleaners are asking about the work

‘Basic stuff’ like someone greeting you properly


A paint party to open, creating the community/ies who exist within the building

The outside of the space, the banner that welcomes you in


Recognise that people are scared to go to some theatres

What is the language? Box office/tickets?

The box office as an airlock between the outside world and the theatre


The discounts/membership schemes that define an ‘in-crowd’ Is this good?

Avoiding the feeling that the staff are doing you a favour by letting you in



Free water that you don’t have to ask for

Being brilliantly surprised by something – the threshold is easy to cross and the welcome warm and easy


Ars Nova as a model – brilliant marketing, trailers before the shows without it feeling intrusive. Tells the story of the venue. The emails follow up: come to see the next show for only $5

Avoid the ‘please book’ email when you already have

Reinforement: tell someone they’ve made the right decision and they will believe you. Build on your trust of them

Keeping up communication so that all stakeholders feel invested. Everybody can be an ambssador

It’s not only the show that makes you go ‘wow’

There is trust in the venue, and the nightmare is to your audience losing that.

Hoe do you have failure without the venue being damaged?


Marketing: how to usefully remind without irritating


Trust: expectation management, you see what you were told you would see

What are the cheap/free things which can make people feel invested without costing too much money


Practicalities: enough women’s toilets/air con/seats, staff who know the running time, mobility and access issues, leg room and sight lines


The unity in Liverpool as a good model

Does the atmosphere in the venue go from the audience to the artists and back again?

How do you share the risk between the venue and the company performing? The split model?

Caring about the smaller stuff and doing what you say you will


Clear website/submissions policy? Surgery days?

‘On Thursday we don’t answer the phone’

Who to contact and the time frame you can expect a response

Don’t pretend to be more than you are. Literary department/’It’s Bob and he works part time’

People know who you are: There are three of us and we everything


The difference between the audience you retain and the audience you want to expand

Clear signs, as big as possible


Are they audience or customers/or different things at different times in the experience

Ritual aspects of the experience.

Difference between the café people and the theatre people

Easy buying experience: what to do during the day?


Balancing the good vs the profitable

Providing a home for the artist

Clear programming policy

What information do you need to program a show?

Hoe do you differentiate between what you programme and what you produce?


How can you take a risk? And make the audience feel valued in the process.

‘We make bad work on the way to making good work’

the ladder of development for a show

Who can go in to rehearsals and help/feedback?


How do you enable people to say ‘that last show was rubbish’

Loyalty: free fifth show

Direct feedback to the artist and the venue

A good space for discussions where all the stakeholders are contributors


Integrated relationship from top to bottom

Treating the staff the same as the audience


Press – how does your programming get reviewed if it’s not three weeks?

And many other wonderful things . . .