It has been a while since I have cited an article, which means I am excited enough to post about one now:
AMERICAN THEATRE | The Science of Mattering: How to Gauge Theatre’s Impact ow.ly/2IA230hyWz9
I feel this is a must read to forward our thinking as to why we attend arts events and how we can develop ways to collect, share, and use this information for understanding our audiences.
This article focuses on the value of live theatre, yet the message does carry over to all the arts. We have yet to scratch the surface of using the intrinsic values to our benefit. Many of us know why we as individuals are dedicated to our art forms, but do we really know why the audiences are?
While the work of Newman, Bernstein, and Carr and Paul, among others, has been useful, it is largely observational: Here’s what works and can be duplicated. None, however, have sought to explain the intrinsic benefit of theatre—the thing it offers that nothing else does.
I believe it is time to find out the intrinsic benefits. The findings can be eye opening.
I found the Triple Play – Audience Perceptions of New Plays report particularly fascinating. This report points out some of the differences of younger and older theatre attendees’ preferences in regard to new plays. It also tells the story of varying engagement levels surrounding a new play.
Once we know the preferences of our audiences, we can do something about how we engage with them. Logical!
But this sentence says it all:
Now just knowing we’re here isn’t enough. In the 21st century, our potential audience wants to understand how our offerings will affect them personally.
We have been skimming this reality for a few years now. The NEA research back in 2015 on the barriers and motivators of attendance helped us reach the bridge of thinking in terms of audience, and now it is time to get to the deep level of personal reasons why people attend the arts.
Because, this is where we are at now – it is time to make the arts personal again. We are not just entertainment to past the time. We are something vastly more special. We matter in the shifting of human consciousness of individual people! We help people see the world differently, and hopefully in more positive ways to spill over into their every day lives.
For this year, there is a challenge being presented. An opportunity! We can start a “Let’s Get Personal” movement so we get to know our audiences to the point of knowing how the arts move them and motivate them for coming back (or not). Then, instead of all the glib marketing, which does not cut through the noise, we can instead impart the wisdom of the truth about why people will love to attend our arts events.
I will be thinking more about the how aspect with hopes of a follow-up post in the near future. I am excited about this development, and I do believe it is the right path to take. We can shed the old and work with and for the new. Then, we can develop even more authentic audiences for each and every artist and arts organization!
Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana Fanizza, Chief Audience Builder, Audience Development Specialists
Get to Know Your Audiences Kit for Performing Arts
We all know we should get to know our audiences better, but how do we do this? Here is a complete kit to help you learn some of the best ways to get to know your audiences as people, why it is important to do this work, and how to track and use the information that you receive. Knowing your audiences will open new doors of opportunities for you and for them! Once purchased, your link will be available for 10 days.