Why do more people go to the cinema than the theatre?

Liz Thompson, 7 October 2012

Olivia, Liz, Nicky, Rachel, Sam, Natalis, Catherine

1. It's easier - booking, tickets, walkup purchases, more spontaneous.

2. The word theatre is offputting - do we mean the place, the event, the building. And what it offers is less clear - cinema has nice stuff - popcorn, fizzy drinks, icecream - especially appealing for young people. Cinema is more comfortable and less formal. More enticing offer for younger audiences?

3. Tickets are more expensive - and it can be a risk - how do you know it'll be any good? NB It should always be good - our responsibility to make it so!

4. Culturally cinema-going is the norm - an everyday thing to do and everyone is aware of new movies. Theatre is more of an occasion. Age restrictions aren't so clear in the theatre and it doesn't always seem as though it's for everyone. Age-branding?

5. Cinema offers more choice and more easily accessible info and promotion eg. trailers etc. Can theatre promote itself in the same way?

6. Cinema has found new ways of reinventing itself - and maintaining its attraction - 3D, Orange 2 for 1 tx, wider appeal. Theatre should learn from it. And find its own ways of celebrating what's unique about it.

7. Compared with dance, dance seems more integrated into mainstream education and culture through evening classes, after school clubs. Live music gigs have a massive appeal too. Can theatre break itself down in similar ways and use similar techniques to broaden its appeal?

8. How can we bring out the theatre in people? How can we demystify the theatre going experience - both the event and the place itself? More story telling, theatre experiences at home and in the classroom to encourage people to be more comfortable with it.

9. People know what's expected from them in the cinema - and the expectation is quite low - you're passively receiving it. People often feel that theatre expects more of its audiences and there's sometimes a fear about a live event in the theatre - and what they'll be called on to do. Theatre needs to turn this on its and turn that fear into excitement about the live experience and celebrate the fact anything can happen.

10. Theatre is a more unknown quantity and the expectations are very high - if people are disappointed they are reluctant to try again. Theatre needs to build more relationships with the public - loyalty schemes, theatre promos, advertising the whole experience, not just the show, encouraging enthusiasts to share their passion with friends (eg. theatre resolutions from iliketheatre.co.uk and James Yarker, Stan's Cafe). And create a theatre community - which isn't cliquey.

11. Can theatre learn from cinema with more filmed performances. NT Live for example draws in lots more people.

12. Make the building seem open and welcoming - and encourage the staff to do the same. Welcome new people and give them something to encourage them to stay.

13. Why do sport and music seem more mainstream in schools that drama? How can we promote drama and perform ing arts and make them more accessible and attractive to children.

14. Can theatre promote its variety better - not all theatre is the same. Just as there's a huge variety of sports, so there's a huge variety of theatre experience. There's potentially something for everyone.


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