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This is a video by Ballet Austin about an audience survey they recently did, in order to craft a better plan to get people in the theater and seeing a wider variety of work.  I thought I'd post it here because the ideas apply to many communities and companies.


What do you think about their analysis?  How does it apply to the rep in your home company?  Are they missing something?  Did they put their finger on something that you didn't consider?

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Hi Sandik

I happened to stumble upon this today. This video is actually done by the Wallace Foundation. Ballet Austin is the recipient of a Wallace Foundation research grant. Wallace conducted these interviews pretty early on in the process, it should be interesting to see where the study leads.

"Building Audiences for Sustainability"


Cheers! 🤓

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Thanks for passing this along -- I knew that my local company (Pacific Northwest Ballet) had some Wallace program money, but I haven't really followed up on the project and its progress.  I see here though that both Ballet Austin and PNB are on their second round of grants (at least), so it looks like I've got some homework to do!


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This article about "evidence-based marketing" and ticket pricing at the Royal Opera House popped up in my Twitter feed. There's a lot here that's interesting, but this point is particularly sensitive, especially to devoted "Fourth Ring" types, of which there are, no doubt, many on this board.

"...the ROH was relying on a small core of extremely frequent customers (though not always very high value in terms of ticket yield or donations) to sell the majority of tickets.

"The ongoing challenge is to realise the full lifetime value of that core market while also ‘opening up’. As Lucy [Sinclair, Director of Media and Audiences] describes, this presents challenging decisions as they seek to spread risk by growing the core audience and generating new audiences: 'We need to accept the difficult reality that making more tickets available to new audiences sometimes means that the frequency of attendance of regular customers might need to reduce.

"'This is an incredibly delicate balance, where we need to increase price just enough to reduce frequency of attendance without reducing income or being exploitative.'"

Also this:

"'Previously, social media was delivering great reach and PR but not converting to sales.' They are now using sophisticated analysis to track posts and put money behind content that gets a good reaction, then automatically ‘throwing good money after good’ – the opposite to what often happens in arts marketing, where spend is usually focused on difficult-to-sell inventory.

"The paid Facebook activity alone is now regularly achieving over 1000% return on investment (ROI). For every pound they spend, they sell £1,000 of tickets, and as a result have been able to substantially reduce the budget dedicated to paid media, while increasing income."

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11 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

we need to increase price just enough to reduce frequency of attendance without reducing income or being exploitative.'"

One of the ways of achieving a reduction in regular attendance has become apparent now that the ROH redevelopment is complete.   The opera house has opened up to the general public with the result that the amphitheatre bar areas have become instantly popular as an upmarket watering hole for the well heeled.  The terrace has stunning views of the London skyline, a popular place for patrons to sit in during intervals, but now you'd be lucky to find a place to sit and the seating area of the inside bar has reduced (tough luck if you happen to have been in a standing place for the performance).   Of course the amphi has the cheapest seats in the house, so presumably the comfort of the less affluent is of little consequence.

The ballet hasn't opened yet, so those that don't do opera have no idea what they are about to experience, but in the  intervals of The Ring my friends and I got the message and left the building in search of refreshment elsewhere only to discover we were far from alone with fellow Wagner fans finding alternative places to perch.  At least the surrounding area is well served by pubs and coffee shops.

Getting away from physical comfort/discomfort, the arrogance of the ROH management is astounding, the claim that they are presenting the best in opera and ballet needs to be challenged as the RB performs far fewer programmes than in the past and the opera commissions such lousy productions they regularly get booed.  For the ballet fans there is little classical dance outside ROH other than the brief London appearances of ENB, but opera fans have other options with ENO, Welsh National (doable if you have a car) and in summer the 'country house' opera seasons, and for us really keen ones cheap flights make continental houses a tempting alternative.   

Of course forcing regular patrons to look elsewhere may be the least of the problems.  Inexplicably they have stopped bag checks on the door at the same time all and sundry are being allowed to come in and make themselves at home.  There is dismay over this policy and it is frankly unwise as places of entertainment have proved prime terrorist targets from Moscow to Paris and to Manchester.

One last observation, for years now the stalls area has been populated by corporate organizations and the empty seats on sell out nights are testimony to the lack of any real interest in the arts for those with tickets, if the ROH is keen to increase this demographic at the expense of a regular enthusiastic audience, what's in it for the artists performing for those just there to be seen?

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