Page 1

Project Report

the together project

Evaluation and analysis of Unlimited’s strategic touring project 2015–2017


Contents

Section 1 Page Introduction 01 Section 2 The Companies

02 – 03

Section 3 Activity undertaken (and by whom)

04 – 09

Section 4 Customer feedback – highlights

10 –12

Section 5 Key Learnings – Yr 1 and Yr 2

13 – 14

Section 6 Summary and key changes to be made

15 – 17

Section 7 Income and expenditure

18 – 19

Section 8 Appendices: A Market research into the Family market

20 – 24

B Customer feedback – Experience surveys

25 – 29

C Interviews undertaken with venue management and Audience Engagement personnel involved in the project

30 – 42


Section 1 Introduction

The Together project is a led by Unlimited Theatre and supported by ACE Strategic Touring funding. The project ran from October 2015 to June 2017. It involved two Companies, Unlimited and Rash Dash and five venues, CAST Doncaster, Barnsley Civic Theatre, The Lowry, Arts Centre Washington and ARC Stockton. Together sought to develop audiences for contemporary work and new writing at five venues in Yorkshire, the North East and the North West. Over an 18 month period, the project was focused on testing a range of approaches to audience development, looking specifically at how a touring company can support and add significant value to the existing audience development work being undertaken by a venue. All of the partner venues already undertook audience development work, though their knowledge and expertise in this area varied. Acknowledging the differences between the partner venues and developing plans that were realistic was a key challenge for the project. Together, as a project is really best summed up by asking a key question:

How can touring companies and venues develop more effective practice in their collaborative approaches to audience engagement and development? The project set out some key objectives: • Undertake activity that is appropriate to the scale and capacity of venues’ and touring companies’ staff teams •  Develop skills and knowledge amongst venue and touring company staff •  Support the existing marketing resources and activity in each of the venues and companies rather than always creating a new layer of activity •  Create shared understanding, knowledge and trust between touring companies and venues so that they are better able to work together towards shared goals These key objectives would be achieved by supporting three specific shows: • Unlimited Theatre’s Play Dough in February and March 2016 • Unlimited Theatre’s Am I Dead Yet? in October and November 2016 • Rash Dash’s Two Man Show in February 2017

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Section 2 The Companies

Unlimited The company had written their first audience development plan as a requirement of the NPO, but data to inform this was sporadic so Unlimited hadn’t been able to make detailed use of segmentation analysis. Together would help them try to understand their audiences in more detail. 75% of Unlimited’s audiences are new to their work but they do have a small core audience who are loyal. This is partly because Unlimited’s shows are very different from each other and in subject matter. Some audiences are brought in by the particular themes of Unlimited’s shows, which creates a challenge of very diverse audiences and the need for a bespoke marketing plan for each show. There has been an inconsistent approach to audience feedback in the past and Unlimited would like to be asking the same questions each time rather than changing. The company values using different platforms for feedback; digital and paper-based to reach a range of audiences. There are lots of opportunities for the company to build different audiences due to the subject matters of its work, particularly around science. Unlimited needs to balance this with a strategic approach to building loyalty.

02


Section 2 The Companies

Rash Dash Rash Dash’s audiences are quite mixed but the company tends to attract a cross-arts form audience due to the multi-disciplinary nature of its work. People who might not usually go to the theatre but who are regular gig-goers or dance attenders. They have a strong feminist following and are popular with politically engaged groups. Audiences tend to be younger (16-30) people who enjoy a good night out as well as being challenged. Unlike Unlimited, they attract a lot of repeat attenders and have a strong ‘following’. The company actively uses audience intelligence to market across different genres ensuring that they target music and dance genres as well as theatres and really highlighting this element of their work. Rash Dash runs ‘Become A Rashdasher’, an advocacy scheme where the company recruits four volunteers local to each area that it tours. The volunteers work with the company to distribute additional marketing in places currently untargeted by the partnering theatres as well as acting as ambassadors by talking about the show to their own friends and spreading work to their local contacts. In return the volunteers are offered a free ticket and mentoring. Rash Dash works with an external PR company (Mobius) for its national tours. The company’s objective for Together was to have more specific detail on new bookers, who comes and what age they are as they tend to assume that they have a 'young edgy audience' but actually get a lot of feedback from older audience members.

03


Section 3 Activity undertaken

The project commenced in December 2015 with a ‘kick off’ meeting attended by programming and marketing representatives from all the venues. This meeting resulted in partners identifying some key areas of focus for the group overall but also for the forthcoming performances of Play Dough. Family audiences were felt to be important and Indigo Director Katy Raines undertook data analysis for ARC, Stockton and The Lowry, looking in more detail at their audiences for family work. These venues were picked because their box office systems and the way that their shows were coded enabled effective data analysis to be undertaken. A report was produced which included and compared data for family audiences at each of these venues and this was circulated to all of the Together venues in order that the information could be used to help plan family audience development activities for Play Dough.

04


Section 3 Activity undertaken

This report is included as Appendix A but the main findings included: •  Family audiences for ARC were very local, with 86% coming from within a 30 minute drive time of the venue. It was not possible to do the same analysis for The Lowry. •  They were more likely to plan and book ahead than audiences for other areas of the programme. Almost ½ of audiences for family shows booked more than a week before at ARC and this rose to 79% at The Lowry. At both venues around ¼ booked in the week of the performance. •  There was a low level of crossover between ARC’s audiences for Christmas shows and for other family work; only 15% of the audience had visited both. As The Lowry code all of family and Christmas shows together, it was not possible to repeat the same analysis for them. •  A third of family bookers also attend other core ARC work, with the highest crossovers being for music, comedy and cinema. •  In contrast, at The Lowry, there are very low crossover rates between Family work and other artforms; the highest being for dance at 9% and ballet at 8%. •  At ARC around 1/2 have only been once in the 3 year period, but this rises to 87% of family bookers at The Lowry. So family audiences are more frequent than the average for all ARC’s audiences, but not necessarily at The Lowry. Supporting activity throughout the project with dedicated personnel was considered to be crucial and for year one the following support was arranged: Indigo was appointed to oversee the audience research side of the project and to also assist in executing audience engagement work through the appointment of Lizzie Forbes-Ritte as the ‘Audience Engagement Co-ordinator’. Lizzie’s input was particularly important in the early stages of the project where the learning curve was steepest. As the learning become more embedded in the Company the Producer and other company members coordinated engagement activity relating to the subject matter of each individual show.

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Section 3 Activity undertaken

Lizzie is a highly experienced marketer, audience development specialist and project manager and has worked with Indigo on a number of projects, including REACH. Lizzie is also Project Manager for the Yorkshire Small Venues Network, which includes Barnsley Civic. She therefore had first-hand knowledge of many of the partner venues included in the Together project. Lizzie has extensive experience of receiving companies into a venue, supporting touring companies on tour and balancing the needs of both parties to ensure the best outcome. Another key appointment in year one was Natalie Bellingham as the Local Engagement Practitioner for the tour of Play Dough – working directly with the tour venues and supported by Lizzie. Activity undertaken across the Play Dough tour included: •  A competition to win a family ticket to Play Dough by guessing the number of coins in a jar •  Pop up display and games undertaken in local shopping centres •  Workshops for ‘Home learners’ •  Workshops for Brownies and Guides •  Some Facebook advertising •  Workshops for Foster Children (Lowry) •  School workshops In addition to the specific show-based activity undertaken in year one, Lizzie undertook significant ‘ground work’ in liaising with the tour venues to understand their engagement priorities and for the project in general. She identified that: •  Schools were an important target market for all venues •  All of the venues wanted to undertake activity outside their venues that brought people into the venue – not just talk to existing customers •  Digital collateral to support marketing was vital •  There were subtly different audiences for different venues – a bespoke activity plan was needed. ‘One size wouldn’t fit all’.

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Section 3 Activity undertaken

Lizzie supported the Local Engagement Practitioner in year one by visiting the venues herself. discussing their needs and ideas with them and undertaking desk research to identify possible group contacts who may be interested in the show. She provided draft e-mails for sending out and worked on appropriate show copy for use on the tour. Customer feedback was organised with the production of a postshow questionnaire, devised by Indigo and distributed by venues using Indigo’s Experience Survey as the basis for this. Section four below outlines key findings from this work.

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Section 3 Activity undertaken

Following the original ‘kick-off’ meeting in December 2015 a further meeting of marketing and programming personnel was organised at The Royal Exchange in Manchester in April 2016 between the tour of Play Dough and Am I Dead Yet?. The meeting was timed to co-incide with the venue’s staging of Am I Dead Yet? and this proved to be a very productive session – allowing all key personnel to see the show before it toured to their venues and giving them also a forum for exchanging thoughts and ideas on how the show could be promoted in their local areas. At the end of Play Dough a full review of activity was undertaken by Unlimited and key learnings identified (see section five below). This review identified a key change needed to be made – a central Local Engagement Practitioner was not the most appropriate or effective way to organise activity and as a result the following shows in the Together project – Am I Dead Yet? and Two Man Show would have an individual Local Engagement Practitioner for each venue. Lizzie’s role now changed to become one of supporting each individual in their local area. It was envisaged that Lizzie’s marketing experience, and the local person’s knowledge of their local marketplace would be an effective partnership. This was the case and it is widely accepted that this local approach is better than a centralised one.

The following Local Engagement Practitioners were appointed for Am I Dead Yet? and Two Man Show ARC Stockton: Luca Rutherford - an independent artist who had made a show that was also about death and dying. She also had an existing relationship with ARC. CAST: Rachel Horne - runs a local arts magazine Doncopolitan, and works part time in a local hospice. She is well connected with the arts and audiences in Doncaster. Barnsley: Natalie Bellingham - performer with Uncanny Theatre and runs engagement projects with children at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Washington: Rachel Hamer - works part time for Washington Arts Centre in engagement, but worked freelance with Unlimited to focus on Am I Dead Yet?. The Lowry: Rob Fulton - local community officer and well established in Salford, The Lowry’s key local community.

08


Section 3 Activity undertaken

Activity to support Am I Dead Yet? included: •  Targeting existing bookers at ARC including schools and colleges •  In Barnsley targeting possible group bookers who had an interest in the subject matter (e.g. St John’s Ambulance) •  Organising a ‘Death Cafe’ at show venues •  Producing a video about the show for all venues to utilise Activity to support Two Man Show included: •  Engaging established groups (yoga, women’s groups etc) already meeting at ARC Stockton •  Pre-show and post-show talks, including a feminism themed preshow event which included a glass fizz and nibbles •  Physical theatre/movement workshops tailored to specific target groups, such as students and a mental health support group with particular focus on gender identity

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Section 4 Customer feedback

Throughout the project Indigo provided venues with a link to a customer survey which was then sent out by venues (though this was done inconsistently). Disappointingly response levels to the survey were low, and results are not statistically robust but nevertheless some interesting insights were gained. The full findings are attached in Appendix B. • 44% of all bookers were new bookers. • There were two key motivations to attend: ‘I Love Theatre’ and ‘I wanted to see this particular production’ Respondents were asked to say how they felt about the shows in emotional terms. The spider diagram below demonstrates the nature of this feedback:

The Artistic Experience It felt good to be sharing the experience with other people 5.0 4.0 3.0 I found aspects of the performance very moving

I felt lively and enthusiastic

10

2.0 0.0

I hardly noticed the time passing

I felt challenged and provoked


Section 4 Customer feedback

The shape of this diagram suggests that respondents were very engaged with the work, enjoyed it and found it challenging. The above diagram is also supported by the fact that respondents rated the shows, on average, at 4.2 out of 5 and their whole experience at the theatre a very high 4.4 out of 5.

Where attenders looked for information about the show was most interesting: Information source

% of respondents choosing this as MAIN

Friends & Family recommendation

29%

Facebook 21% Twitter 11% Normally the three key information sources are venue website, venue brochure and e-mail communication. Social media is relatively modest as a primary source of information. These shows are clearly attracting an audience who are more ‘digitally savvy’ and this information should influence future audience engagement work. The other positive note regarding these findings is that Facebook, Twitter and e-mail communication are all very low cost to execute and can be very effectively tracked so that activity can be carefully monitored and evaluated. Given these shows have modest promotional budgets this appears to be a significant insight.

The surveys asked respondents to rate some key phrases by how highly they match their own artistic tastes. The top three answers were:

11

‘I like arts events that challenge and provoke me’

28%

‘I like trying out new or unfamiliar things’

25%

‘I enjoy good entertainment’

24%

Once again, these findings provide invaluable insight into the type of person attending the Together project shows.


Section 4 Customer feedback

Given the above, it may make sense to assume that this is likely to be a young audience. Whilst this is true to some extent the age range is younger in composition to an ‘average’ arts attender but there are still a significant proportion of older attenders: • 27% of all respondents were aged 25 – 34 • 36% of all respondents were aged 35 – 44 • 24% of all respondents were aged 45 – 54 All of this feedback suggests that the shows were very well received and that lower cost marketing can be efficient and effective – a crucial learning given the low marketing budgets practically available for smaller scale work.

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Section 5 Key learnings years 1 and 2

In the first year of the project a number of key lessons were learnt: • Work with people local to the venues who have a pre-existing understanding of the area and have established links to some audiences. This will save time developing relationships, and will come with a pre-existing knowledge of the difficulties of attracting audiences in those areas • Invest time in focused groups of people, and develop relationships with these people over time, rather than working on one-time public interactions. • Time and effort need to be invested for audiences who have never been to the venue before, to overcome hurdles such as price, transport and generally feeling nervous • Copy and how a show is described is important and should be tailored to local audiences • Workshop offers with tickets for education groups work, as it makes them feel like they’ve got the most for their money In the second year of the project more lessons were learnt as the project progressed and a broader body of learning and experience was gathered, not just from the project but from key individuals who had been involved in the project. Detailed feedback from a series of interviews held with venues and Local Engagement Practitioners is attached in Appendix C. The key learning points were: • The most effective engagement personnel were those who knew the venue and their area really well. Only knowing one of these two components reduced the effectiveness of the Local Engagement Practitioner (LEP) • Venues, perhaps predictably, were mixed in terms of their willingness to get involved in audience development work with some seeing it as a ‘core part of what we do’ and others seeing it as extra work for a small show with a short run • It is preferable, and more cost and time efficient, to tap into existing groups and communities around the venues rather than trying to engage with non-attenders who have no interest in the venues or the show • Audience Engagement is about face to face contact (either in person or via video) and this should be an open and two-way communication. Digital communication can work really well where personal contact is not practical or possible • Pay What You Decide worked very well as a pricing strategy and was successful where used. It helped to remove one key potential barrier which is what a show would cost to attend

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Section 5 Key learnings years 1 and 2

• Clear lines of communication, and clear allocations of workload between all involved parties are needed (e.g. venue marketing, Company Co-ordinator and project LEP) • Clear timescales – ensuring LEP’s are recruited in plenty of time prior to the show touring • Ensure a dedicated resource is available within the Company to focus on supporting the LEP’s out ‘in the field’. • Start the audience engagement work as early as possible – this was felt to vary between two months as ideal and 6 weeks as the minimum if engagement work was to be effective • Build a sustainable relationship over time – and maintain contact with groups all year round • Encourage LEP’s in different venues to talk to each other – share knowledge and best practice • Teacher forums and school networks should be ‘tapped into’ and cultivated – on an ongoing basis not just a show-specific basis • A promotional package of ticket and workshop would be great as it adds extra value to the overall offer • To encourage repeat attendance offer a ‘come back a 2nd time for free within 4 weeks of your first visit’. This could really tie people into the venue and encourage more frequent participation. All of the above clearly illustrates that the project has been extremely useful in developing and refining approaches to audience engagement work. Many key lessons have been learnt and for Unlimited this has resulted in some key changes to the way they work (see section six below).

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Section 6 Summary and key changes to be made

In the introduction the project was felt to have to answer one key question. It was:

How can touring companies and venues develop more effective practice in their collaborative approaches to audience engagement and development? The answer to this fundamental question appears to be found in the key learnings from the project outlined above. A closer ‘partnership’ approach to audience engagement is needed if effective strategies are to be developed and executed. Clare Clarkson the Deputy Director at CAST Doncaster believes that 'We need to become genuine peers and partners. As arts professionals we should collaborate and share information and ideas as equals and work in a non-competitive environment’. It would appear that there is a potential virtuous circle which could be developed where... • The Company helps the venue really understand the show •  The venue helps the Company to really understand their particular audience make up •  They use this joint intelligence to create a joint, and bespoke, Audience Engagement plan •  They jointly fund the initiative to maximise what can be undertaken – even if only with modest levels of investment •  After the show key learnings are shared between the venue and the Company with a view to the Company returning again in the future •  The key lessons learnt are shared with other Companies and venues in wider forums This collegiate approach would best be served by conversation and discussion taking place around audience engagement work as soon as a show is programmed. This would hopefully provide ample time to develop a joint action plan, create the necessary marketing collateral including digital assets and provide sufficient time for the LEP to undertake face to face work with potential attenders.

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Section 6 Summary and key changes to be made

There are, potentially, two ways forward in terms of who does the engagement work – and where they are based. Annabel Turpin at ARC believes this would best be done by having the LEP ‘embedded’ within the venue Marketing team. This would allow them to communicate effectively together and would help to raise the profile of the show within a busy venue marketing team who have countless other shows to promote. The alternative route is to work independently of the venue team in physical terms, but meet and discuss regularly. Either route could work and specific venue limitations such as office space may make that decision more clear cut on a bespoke basis. What is very clear from the project is that the chosen LEP must have a detailed understanding of the local marketplace and be familiar with the venue and its audience. Key changes for Unlimited The project has resulted in a fundamentally new way of working for Unlimited within the context of audience engagement.

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Section 6 Summary and key changes to be made

The Company is instigating 6 key changes now: 1. Unlimited have employed an audience engagement specialist to work with them where they would not have done so before 2. Any Unlimited touring show will now have a marketing & audience engagement budget allocated to it 3. Support will be ‘locally sourced’ rather than ‘centrally organised’. Unlimited are developing relationships with local personnel who can be brought in on a freelance basis whenever the Company tours to that geographic area 4. Having toured smaller venues there is now a real desire for Unlimited to co-commission with smaller venues such as Barnsley. This is now happening with the co-commissioning of a new piece of work entitled ‘How I Hacked My Way into Space’. 5. The Company now has an appetite to stage shows in more challenging venues – despite acknowledging this is harder to undertake and do successfully 6. At least 2.5 months is needed for audience engagement work to really be worthwhile as ongoing relationships need to be developed rather than one-off superficial contacts. Resource will be planned and put in place accordingly.

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Section 7 Income and expenditure

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Section 7 Income and expenditure

Financial Summary Together was awarded an Arts Council Grant under the Strategic Touring programme of £116,610. A summary of the project costs and generated income are as follows : Together – Core

AIDY

PD

TMS

Totals

£753

£12,597

£43,912

£23,729

£83,720

Marketing & Press

£3,216

£5,289

£1,059

£9,564

Engagement

£3,115

£3,804

£3,625

£10,544

Expenditure Production and Touring Audience Development:

Indigo – Audience Development

£9,716

£9,716

Project Management

£4,896

£4,896

Total Expenditure

£15,365

£18,927

£53,005

£28,413

£118,440

Income

AIDY

PD

TMS

Totals

ARC Stockton

£800

£1,100

£750

£2,650

Civic Barnsley

£1,000

£1,250

£750

£3,000

Cast Doncaster

£103

£303

£315

£721

Llowry Salford

£328

£750

£0

£1,078

Arts Centre Washington

£600

£150

£600

£1,350

Leeds tour Total Generated Income

1062 £3,553

£2,831

£2,415

£9,861

The project therefore received subsidy of £108,579 from the Strategic Touring programme towards production, touring, audience development and evaluation. A further £8,031 is expected to be spent on dissemination and legacy activity.

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Appendix A Income and expenditure

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A


Family Audience Analysis – ARC and The Lowry, Jan 2016

Appendix A Income and expenditure

This report looks at bookers for family events, and ONLY their behaviour for family events. It’s worth noting that at The Lowry, Christmas shows are included in the Family category. 1: Size of audience Family bookers at ARC represent 17% of all bookers, whereas at The Lowry it is 7%. The amount of contactable data at each is around 2K and 15K respectively. ARC’s family bookers have stayed with them longer than their average bookers, but we don’t have that information for The Lowry 2: Financials a) Average spend per ticket The majority at ARC spend between £5 and £10 for their ticket. At the Lowry more spend between £10-£15 (36%) with a further 18% spending between £5 and £10. So it’s fair to say that the average price families expect to pay is less than £15. b) Average spend per order ARC:

1739

1324 848

88 Less than £10

£10 – £25

£25 – £50

£50 – £75

7 £75 – £100

12

1

£100 – £200 £200 – £500

At ARC almost ½ spend between £10 and £25, with 95% spending under £50. Given the party sizes, they must only be booking for one event at a time.

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At The Lowry this is higher, with the majority spending between £25 and £50. However 60% do spend under £50.


Appendix A Income and expenditure

Average spend per order The Lowery

21,216 Number of orders

9,815 8,035 5,418

4,693

2,802 1,143

653 £0 – £5

£5 – £10

£10 – £25

£25 – £50

£50 – £75

£75 – £100

£100 – £200

£200 – £500

364 £500 +

c) Discounts and offers At ARC, almost 60% of tickets were sold at full price, compared with 23% at The Lowry. 25% were sold to schools (13% at The Lowry) and 5% were sold to Senior Citizens (3% at The Lowry), suggesting a not insignificant ‘grandparent’ market. Around 17% of the tickets sold at ARC and 14% at The Lowry were sold on a family ticket. Offers were more widely used at The Lowry than at ARC to promote family shows. 3: Geography 86% come from within a 30 minute drivetime (compared with 85% for ARC audiences generally). This corresponds with 86% from TS postcodes – so they are very local indeed. We don’t have comparative figures for The Lowry.

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Appendix A Income and expenditure

4: Booking patterns a) Timing Almost ½ book more than a week before at ARC (this rises to 79% at The Lowry). At both venues around ¼ book in the week of the performance. This suggests that family audiences are more likely to plan ahead. b) Frequency At ARC around 1/2 have only been once in the 3 year period, but this rises to 87% of family bookers at The Lowry. So Family audiences are more frequent than the average for all ARC’s audiences, but not necessarily at The Lowry. c) Sales Channel and Delivery At ARC only 24-30% of tickets are booked online, compared with 43% at The Lowry. The Lowry has a substantial groups market for family work, so 20% of their bookings were processed through the groups telephone line. d) Group size Almost 60% come in groups of between 2 and 4 people at ARC (80% at The Lowry)

5. Methods of communication At ARC the most cited methods of hearing about the show are website (19%), mailing (15%), word of mouth (14%) and Newspaper/ Magazine (7%) – with The Primary Times registering a significant 4%, which is high for a relatively niche publication. NB. The response options at ARC do not include Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. There is no comparable data from The Lowry

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Appendix A Income and expenditure

6. Crossover a) Family work and Christmas Shows At ARC only 15% of the audience crosses over between the Christmas shows and the other family events. Lowry Christmas shows are coded as Family events, so it’s not possible to repeat this analysis for them.

Family 45%

15%

Christmas Show 40%

b) Other events 1/3 of Family bookers also attend other core ARC work, with the highest crossovers being for Music (18% of Family bookers), Comedy (18%) and Cinema (15%). At The Lowry, there are very low crossover rates between Family work and other artforms, the highest being for dance at 9% and ballet at 8%. Katy Raines Partner, Indigo-Ltd 28 Jan 2016

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Appendix B Customer feedback

25

B


2015/16 Experience Survey REACH ARC Stockton

Appendix B Customer feedback

1. Was this your first visit to ARC? • 16 people said yes • 20 people said no

No 56.6%

Yes 44.4%

2. What was your motivation for attending the performance? Answer options Ticked all A As a treat for a special occasion 1 B For a night out with friends and family 3 C I love theatre 20 D I love the venue 9 E Someone else brought me 0 F To see this particular production 25 G To see a particular performer or company 9 H Special Offer 2

Main reason 1 1 2 1 1 14 5 0

Any % 1% 4% 29% 13% 0% 36% 13% 3%

Main % 4% 4% 8% 4% 4% 56% 20% 0%

Ticked all that apply Main reason

A

26

B

C

D

E

F

G

H


Appendix B Customer feedback

3 Here are some phrases that people might use to describe the experience of watching a piece of theatre. For each one, please rate how well it describes your experience of watching the performance. 1 2 3 4 5 A It felt good sharing the experience with others I hardly noticed the time passing I felt challenged and provoked I felt lively and enthusiastic I found aspects of the performance very moving I feel really glad I came

0 0 1 0 2 0

1 2 4 2 2 2

5 4 8 3 3 3

6 10 8 10 12 5

22 18 13 18 15 23

4.4 4.2 3.8 4.3 4.0 4.5

1 = Disagree strongly, 2 = Disagree somewhat, 3 = Neither agree nor disagree, 4 = Agree somewhat, 5 = Agree strongly. A = Rating Average. 4. Your star rating for the performance: Star rating

*

**

***

****

*****

A

0

3

2

11

19

4.2

5. Please rate us on the quality of our service during your visit: Star rating NA * ** ***

****

*****

A

If you were reviewing this production for tomorrow's papers, how many stars would you give it?

Bars Food Box Office Front of House staff

17 0 0 4 5 8 4.2 23 0 1 1 2 7 4.5 6 0 0 2 10 16 4.5 2 0 0 2 10 21 4.5

6. Please rate us on the quality of our facilities at the venue: Star rating NA * ** Bars Food Tickets Programmes Overall appearance of the building

****

*****

A

16 0 0 8 9 16 4.5 22 0 1 1 8 22 4.4 2 1 0 8 19 2 4.3 6 0 0 11 17 6 4.6 0 0 0 8 25 0 4.7

7. Please rate us on the quality of our facilities at the venue: Star rating NA * ** Bars Food Tickets Programmes

***

***

****

*****

A

17 0 0 4 5 8 4.1 23 0 1 1 2 7 4.3 6 0 0 2 10 16 4.3 2 0 0 2 10 21 4.6

8. If you had to give your whole visit a star rating, how would we score?: Star rating * ** *** ****

*****

A

Overall experience 0 2 3 8 21 4.4

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Appendix B Customer feedback

9. Where would you usually find out about live events in your area? Answer options Response Count % Brochure mailed to me Brochure picked up E-mail Facebook Twitter Leaflets picked up Magazines Newspaper Posters Text messages Through friends or family TV Radio Via mailing list Venue websites Other websites YouTube

11 6.08% 11 6.08% 16 8.84% 27 14.92% 13 5.52% 10 7.18% 3 1.66% 4 2.21% 11 6.08% 2 1.10% 24 13.26% 0 0% 3 1.66% 15 8.29% 18 9.94% 13 7.18% 0 0%

10. How did you actually find out about this PARTICULAR event? Answer options Response Count % Brochure mailed to me Brochure picked up E-mail Facebook Twitter Leaflets picked up Magazines Newspaper Posters Text messages Through friends or family TV Radio Via mailing list Venue websites Other websites YouTube

28

3 7.89% 0 0% 4 10.53% 8 21.05% 4 10.53% 4 10.53% 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 11 28.95% 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 3 2.63% 1 2.63% 0 0%


Appendix B Customer feedback

11. Which of the following phrases describe your artistic tastes? Answer options Response Count Response % I have traditional tastes I enjoy good entertainment I like arts events that challenge or provoke I tend to stick to the things I know and like I enjoy trying out new or unfamiliar things I try to read newspaper reviews or features about what's going on

4 24 28 4 25 16

3.96% 23.76% 27.72% 3.96% 24.75% 15.84%

12. Which of the following phrases BEST describes how you currently attend arts events? Answer options Response Count Response % I like going to big name events & exhibitions 1 2.94% I tend to get persuaded to attend various events by friends & family 2 5.88% I go to arts events that I feel it is important to see 10 29.41% I find it difficult to decide what I should go to see 1 2.94% I go to particular types of events (eg. music, comedy) as often as I can 6 17.65% I attend rarely and only for social occasions 2 5.88% I go to as many different types of arts events as possible, 12 35.29% as often as I can16 13. What is your gender? Answer options Response Count Male Female

Response %

5 14.71% 29 85.29%

Male

Female

14. How old are you? Options Response %

What is your Ethnic Origin? Options Response %

under 15 15-19 20-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65-74 75+

White 29 Black / Black British 0 Mixed White/Black 0 Asian / British Asian 1 Mixed White / Asian 1 Chinese 0 Mixed / Dual heritage 1 Any other ethnic group 0 Not specified 1

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0 0% 0 0% 3 9.09% 9 27.27% 12 36.36% 8 24.24% 0 0% 1 3.03% 0 0%

87.88 0% 0% 3.03% 3.03% 0% 3.03% 0% 3.03%


Appendix C Together Project interview notes

C

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Appendix C Together Project interview notes

1. Interview with Christie Hill – Producer, Unlimited Unlimited – Play Dough Christie outlined the activities that were undertaken by Unlimited for Play Dough. Ric Watts acted as venue liaison on this show and Natalie Bellingham was appointed as the Audience Engagement Officer for the tour of the show. Christie observed that the activities they undertook were fairly ‘superficial’ and that it wasn’t a deep and ongoing engagement with potential audience members. The public nature of the locations (shopping centres) also meant that the activity was not targeted to specific audiences. The activities were based on games that were in the show – so the actors were involved, which with hindsight was felt to be less than ideal as it was tiring for them and they were not trained in engaging with the public in this specific way. On a more positive note – the school workshops undertaken were popular and were felt to be more appropriate for audience engagement – but still they were considered a little superficial. Natalie delivered all the workshops which included a group of home educators in Washington. The Together project funded Natalie’s role through this tour and it allowed more marketing to take place beyond just schools activity. Venue responses to the activity around Play Dough were mixed. ARC really got behind it, Barnsley were very supportive, The Lowry supportive to a degree and CAST Doncaster found it more difficult to undertake activity due to capacity issues. Unlimited - Am I Dead Yet? The central Audience Engagement Officer role was not repeated for Am I Dead Yet? (AIDY?). Local Engagement Practitioners (LEP's) were recruited in each venue, with venues recommending local personnel who could fulfil the role. The local knowledge of these venue specific personnel was a real improvement and in practical terms worked much better also. A side-effect of the ‘local approach’ was that costs were lower too. There was not a ‘prescriptive’ approach to the LEP’s work and each person was encouraged to develop their own activity plans. Luca at ARC is an actor and artist but with an outgoing personality she was able to speak easily to people and encourage them to see the show. She targeted existing ARC groups who might be interested in the show, including yoga groups, singing groups and college groups. Natalie was retained to work in Barnsley and her approach was to target groups with a link to the subject matter of the show (e.g. NHS staff, Mountain Rescue, BHF etc)

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CAST Doncaster employed Rachel, but this appointment was late due to availability of appropriate personnel and Christie felt the work undertaken was not as effective and more could have been done if more time was available.


Appendix C Together Project interview notes

The show was staged at The Royal Exchange and this gave an excellent opportunity for all venue personnel to see it and this helped them think about how the venues themselves could support audience engagement activity. The venue specific approach was considered to be much better than having one person undertake work across all tour venues but Christie did feel that this added to her workload and it was very time consuming to manage everyone individually. Christie also undertook to develop a ‘shopping list’ of engagement activity which the LEP’s could choose from and undertake. She deliberately avoided bringing all the personnel together as she was keen they developed their own activity plans and were not overly influenced by what other LEP’s were doing. At Washington another approach was used where a part-time member of staff from the venue was used and they did a good job. The advantage of this approach for Christie was that the person knew the venue and vice versa. The show sold out at Washington. At the end of this process, Christie felt she had a clear view of what had worked and what had not worked. A key learning point was not to assume that you know what audiences want before you talk to them and really understand their motivations and understanding of a show. Key Learning points Christie felt the project has been very significant both for her career development personally but also for Unlimited. As a Company they are now seeking to allocate time and resource to having dedicated Audience Engagement support. AIDY? is touring again and Christie has recruited a person to do 10 days’ work in advance of the show to undertake development work. A key learning point was that Unlimited need to go to the audience rather than expect them to come to them. As a Company they are now excited about taking ambitious shows to smaller venues and making that work for both the Company and audiences. Smaller audiences responded brilliantly to the two shows in the Together project. The most effective engagement personnel were those who knew the venue and their area really well. Only knowing one of these two components reduced the effectiveness of the LEP. Venues, perhaps predictably, were mixed in terms of their willingness to get involved in audience development work with some seeing it as a ‘core part of what we do’ and others seeing it as extra work for a small show with a short run. One excellent example of a co-operative approach is Barnsley where they took a risk with programming the shows – but got involved in audience work with the result that Unlimited and Barnsley are now co-commissioning a new piece of work called How I Hacked My Way Into Space.

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Appendix C Together Project interview notes

Christie feels that Unlimited now has a much better grasp of their audiences than they had previously but she also acknowledged that Unlimited create very different shows each time and therefore building a consistent audience following is more challenging. However, there are some key learnings that are consistent regardless of the show – this is to tap into existing groups and communities around the venues rather than trying to engage with non-attenders who have no interest in the venues or the show. Audience engagement is about face to face contact (either in person or via video) and this should be open and two way communication – don’t try to presume what a potential audience member wants from you. Pay What You Decide worked very well and was successful where used. It helped to remove one key potential barrier which is what a show would cost to attend. PWYD also allows people to experiment with shows they are not fully conversant with. Christie felt this was a key point as it takes away the fear of ‘investing’ in something which you don’t fully understand. Key Changes for Unlimited Christie feels there are 6 key changes now: 1 Unlimited have employed Anna to do audience engagement work where they would not have done so before 2 Any Unlimited touring show will now have a marketing & audience engagement budget allocated to it. 3 Support will be ‘locally sourced’ rather than ‘centrally organised’. Unlimited are developing relationships with local personnel who can be brought in on a freelance basis whenever the Company tours to that geographic area. 4 Having toured smaller venues there is now a real desire for Unlimited to co-commission with smaller venues such as Barnsley. 5 The Company now has an appetite to stage shows in more challenging venues – despite acknowledging this is harder to undertake and do successfully 6 At least 2.5 months is needed for audience engagement work to really be worthwhile as ongoing relationships need to be developed rather than one-off superficial contacts In terms of challenges – the key one has been capacity, both within Unlimited but also with the LEP’s. Unlimited are often developing a new show whilst touring another one – so just managing this workload is difficult. Consistent levels of commitment are vital and this is always difficult with limited resource and a heavy workload. This challenge is just about manageable for a Company of Unlimited’s size – but is more difficult to manage for a smaller Company such as Rash Dash.

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Appendix C Together Project interview notes

2. Interview with Lizzie ForbesRitte – P/T Audience Engagement Co-ordinator Lizzie explained her role as being the co-ordinator who worked with both the venues and the Local Engagement Practitioners. She visited venues and established contact with the venue programming and marketing personnel. She set up systems and processes for working and developed a core of key initiatives for engaging with local communities and audiences. Lizzie initially saw her role as supporting the LEP's by providing practical support to them and providing draft e-mails etc. However, she felt this didn’t really work because the venues and LEP’s worked directly together which seemed to be more effective. After Play Dough, Lizzie stepped away from direct contact with the venues and provided direct support only to the LEP’s. However, only three of the appointed LEP’s utilised Lizzie’s knowledge and experience. The support Lizzie did provide was mostly around copy-writing and desk research to identify possible groups and communities that they LEP’s could target. This way of working for AIDY? seemed to be much more effective and Lizzie felt she offered really worthwhile support to Luka at ARC in particular. Lizzie also commented on the fact that all three shows in the Together project were very different in subject matter and target audiences and therefore it was difficult in her view to really establish a firm view on ‘what works and what doesn’t work’.

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Appendix C Together Project interview notes

Key learning points Lizzie felt that her role was not required – and any future project of this nature should focus on LEP’s working directly with the Company and with the venues. Like Christie, Lizzie also felt that a local person undertaking audience engagement work was much more effective than a centralised resource. Lizzie would recommend that Unlimited consider recruiting a permanent audience engagement role – perhaps on a 2 or 3 day per week basis that would provide each local LEP with much more support than Christie is realistically able to do given her wideranging part-time role. In addition to being a consistent point of contact for local LEP’s Lizzie felt that this role could also undertake the vital aspect of researching local contacts and possible audience groups based on the content of the show in question. Having someone within Unlimited with this intimate knowledge of the show would be a real boost. Lizzie felt the biggest challenge in the project was trying to clarify the roles and responsibilities of each of the people involved in audience engagement work. These included Christie, Lizzie, the local LEP’s and the venue marketing personnel. Clear lines of communication were critical alongside a clear allocation of workload. The show with the most success in Lizzie’s view was AIDY? at ARC where Luca was well supported by Lizzie and made great use of her knowledge and experience whilst drawing on her own local knowledge of the catchment area and the venue itself. The key issues for any future projects of this nature in Lizzie’s view would be: 1 Clear lines of communication between all involved parties 2 Clear allocation of workload and responsibilities 3 Clear timescales – and ensuring LEP’s are recruited in plenty of time prior to the show touring 4 Ensure a dedicated resource is available within the Company to focus on supporting the LEP’s out ‘in the field’.

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Appendix C Together Project interview notes

3. Interview with Luca – Local Engagement Practitioner for ARC on the Together project Luca took on responsibility for AIDY? as Natalie Bellingham had acted as a central resource for the first Unlimited production – Play Dough. Luca focussed her work on possible group bookings and colleges and 6th forms. Her view is that the timeframe is vital and that at least 6 weeks is needed to do a comprehensive audience engagement job. Her preference would be for 2 months to be available. This is really important to Luca because she believes that a single communication is ineffective and there has to be time for repeating contact (without being too pushy) and establishing rapport. This timeframe also allows the LEP’s to find the best way to talk about the show to groups – and this is an iterative process which by necessity takes some time to refine and develop. It is important to not ‘talk at them’ but ‘talk with them’. This timeframe also needs to be backed up with the provision of marketing materials to give enough time to fully utilise valuable promotional tools such as videos and trailers. Luca felt that the most important thing she learnt was to focus on ‘what the show was like’ rather than ‘what it is about’. This seemed to resonate much more with potential audiences than what the show was talking about. She already had a close relationship with ARC so this helped her to begin work more quickly as she didn’t need to learn about the venue first. Being based in the venue and able to work closely with box office and marketing was a real bonus. Luca recommended beginning any audience engagement work by identifying target groups and then making contact. However, making contact with groups who have no prior involvement with the venue is much less effective, so it was much more effective to target groups with even a small degree of resonance with the venue rather than none. This might include people who only use the space for social occasions and don’t ever attend the theatre. Identifying advocates for the show was also considered important by Luca. Developing a network of influencers who can help spread the message of the show is very useful.

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Appendix C Together Project interview notes

4. Interview with Natalie Bellingham – Local Engagement Practitioner Natalie’s feedback is particularly helpful as she fulfilled two roles within the Together project. She acted firstly as the LEP for all the tour venues for Play Dough and then solely for Barnsley for AIDY? Natalie felt that it was possible to have one person acting as the LEP for several venues – but she felt the preferable option was definitely to have a dedicated, local LEP working closely with each venue. This provides a more focussed approach, gives the LEP more time to concentrate on relationships in just one venue and also allows for sharing of knowledge and initiatives with colleagues in other venues within the tour. Working with one venue also allows the LEP to try different approaches and ‘take more risks’. Natalie felt the opportunity to share knowledge was missed (though this was a deliberate decision on Christie’s part – see her interview above), but she also appreciates each venue needs to develop personalised audience engagement tactics to suit their individual needs. In terms of Play Dough, Natalie felt the timing was ‘off’ and needed to start much earlier. This is particularly relevant when talking to schools who need considerable notice to organise a theatre visit. The timeframe problem was resolved for AIDY? The individual initiatives such as ‘coin in the jar’ and ‘lip synching competitions’ were ok as initiatives but Natalie felt it was very difficult to link specific activities like these to any ticket sales. A more ‘solid mechanism’ would be needed to allow ticket sales to take place there and then – or perhaps a promotional voucher code (e.g. free child) could be used if on-the-spot sales aren’t feasible which would act as a call to action. Natalie felt that ticket prices were a definite barrier to attendance, however reducing this dramatically to offer £1 tickets only served to undervalue the show and didn’t help. Her view was that targeting unengaged people with little or no involvement with the theatre was a waste of time. Natalie targeted scout and brownie groups for Play Dough and she felt this worked really well – however she felt that diary commitments for these groups meant that lots of notice would be required to gain maximum ticket take up. An ongoing relationship with these groups would help to mitigate against this issue – but as previously noted if shows appeal to different audiences then it is difficult to build an audience over time.

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Appendix C Together Project interview notes

Natalie’s key learning points were: 1 Agree clear roles and responsibilities with the venues – who is doing what.  2 Start the audience engagement work as early as possible 3 Focus on groups with some connection to the theatre already 4 Build a sustainable relationship over time – and maintain contact 5 Try to give as much notice of the show as possible to groups as they need time to plan and make commitments many weeks or even months in advance. 6 Encourage LEP’s in different venues to talk to each other 7 Teacher forums and school networks should be ‘tapped into’ and cultivated 8 A promotional package of ticket & workshop would be great as it adds extra value to the overall offer

5. Interview with Rob Fulton – Local Engagement Practitioner for The Lowry on the Together project Rob’s feedback was valuable because he is not a theatre professional but is rather a Youth & Community Worker. The activities for AIDY? were ok – with the Death Café especially well attended, and with hindsight Rob feels that the timings of the café event and the show itself should have been linked so that participants could move straight from one activity to another. Perhaps unsurprisingly given Rob’s background he believes that local networks are vital and his role as a Community Worker allowed him to link straight into existing networks as he was known to them. He also believed strongly that ensuring the correct ‘language’ is used is important – it is really important to speak to people in a friendly and accessible way and not to use theatre jargon or overly intellectual phrases which would intimidate people. Rob would have welcomed a more detailed briefing on the show. He saw the show video but this didn’t give him a thorough enough overview of the show and the thinking behind it. Perhaps the fact Rob is not a communications professional meant that he needed more support in understanding the show than someone like Luca or Natalie who work in the arts industry and feel more comfortable with it.

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Appendix C Together Project interview notesv

Rob believes a local approach is vital as they provide continuity for community groups. Someone from outside the community ‘parachuting in’ doesn’t work and is counter-productive. Tapping into local networks, getting straight to key opinion formers and potential advocates is most important for success in building audiences. Rob suggested that the best model would be to employ a local person with excellent networks on a freelance basis and use them each time the Company was visiting this area. This way, over time you would combine both sets of skills – the creative skills and the local community knowledge/experience skills

6. Interview with Annabel Turpin – CEO ARC Stockton Annabel felt the show (Two Man Show) went well and had a great response from the audience. There were, however, issues with timings for the engagement work and Annabel believes 2-3 months is important, particularly for difficult contemporary work that many people find intimidating. Annabel feels that audience engagement work should be undertaken by local people with local knowledge – but it is vital that any freelance role is managed by the venues. This would streamline communication and ensure activity was effective. The ideal format would be an in-depth training day where the LEP would ‘become experts on the show’ and then they would be based in the venue and ‘become one of the team’. She did, however, caveat this by saying that whilst this approach would be ideal for ARC she wasn’t so sure it would be right for other venues. ARC is presently thinking a lot about ‘advanced engagement work’ where the Company’s creativity is utilised to develop different communications approaches. However, Annabel is clear that face to face works best and video is an excellent alternative to ‘real’ face to face conversations. It is vital in her view that the Company, and the show, speak directly to the audience - and this communication should be personalised to each venue, even if only via a bespoke 30 second introduction from cast members that ‘name check’ each venue giving a highly personalised feel to the video content. Companies, Annabel believes, need to be bolder and more confident in telling people about the storyline as this would help to break down some of the barriers that contemporary work has. Workshops are not a new initiative – but Annabel believes they work well and a combination of workshop and ticket deal is very compelling and should be promoted more widely. (though it is acknowledged these are expensive for the Company to undertake). Annabel feels that a more targeted approach to audience

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Appendix C Together Project interview notes

development is needed because you need to ‘pick your battles’. Promoting the show to men in a local pub with no connection to the venue was always likely to yield little return. She would also like to see more adventurous promotional activity undertaken to encourage people to return quickly to the theatre – hence hopefully developing an ongoing relationship. Annabel would like to try ‘come back a second time for free within 4 weeks of your first visit’. This could really tie people into the venue and encourage more frequent participation.

7. Interview with Clare Clarkson – Deputy Director CAST Doncaster Clare felt that the project had not been particularly valuable from CAST’s perspective. One of the key reasons for this is that the programme was so disparate that any lessons learnt from one show could not necessarily be transferred onto the next show in the programme. Clare also felt that the venue’s own marketing and audience development staff were better qualified to carry out the engagement work as they knew their local audience best. The choice of Company and shows was not also ideal for Clare in terms of development. Rash Dash had visited CAST before, so were known to the venue and Play Dough was a child’s show which is not a strand of programming that CAST normally undertakes. Clare did feel that the meeting that she attended at Royal Exchange Theatre was very interesting and she personally felt it was disappointing this wasn’t continued with further information sharing exchanges. Clare, as with others, did not think the ‘project wide’ role carried out by Natalie worked as she did not have the venue specific knowledge which can only be built up over time. An example was Natalie suggesting a Sunday show where the venue knew this would not work for them. Clare feels that there is a key question which still remains unresolved at the end of the project and that is ‘what has motivated someone to come to the show’. This still feels to Clare like the key gap in learning from the project. Clare believes that one key learning point that can come from the project is that Visiting Companies and venues should meet up as early as possible and share information: The visiting company to outline the show and who they see it appealing to and the venue talking through who their audiences are and who might be interested in attending.

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Appendix C Together Project interview notesv

CAST host around 100 different shows each year and it is very easy to become ‘just another show’, but Clare believes that by working more closely with the venue the show gains in importance with the venue team and this would be very beneficial to the Company. Jointly funding audience engagement activity – even with a very modest contribution towards work would also elevate the show and give it more priority. Clare feels that a partnership is the way forwards. ‘We need to become genuine peers and partners. As arts professionals we should collaborate and share information and ideas as equals and work in a non-competitive environment.' In conclusion – whilst Clare felt the project had little direct benefit for CAST one key thing came out of the interview and out of the project for her what that there is a potential virtuous circle which could be developed where... • The Company helps the venue really understand the show • The venue helps the Company to really understand their particular audience make up • They use this joint intelligence to create a joint Audience Engagement plan • They jointly fund the initiative to aximise what can be undertaken – even if only with modest levels of investment • After the show key learnings are shared between venue and Company with a view to the Company returning again in the future • The key lessons learnt are shared with other Companies and venues

8. Interview with Ian Morley – Theatre Programmer Barnsley Civic Ian explained that his ‘usual’ way of developing audiences would be through relying on the name and reputation of a company repeatedly programming their work and bringing back the same audiences, and building that audience over time. It was explained that Unlimited work in a different way with different shows appealing to different audiences due to the nature of their work. Ian felt that audience engagement was primarily about increasing audiences and we agreed that audiences sizes grew with the shows. He was especially pleased with the home learners that Unlimited had brought into the theatre to see Play Dough.

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Appendix C Together Project interview notes

The benefits of engagement rather than marketing were discussed and it was agreed that engagement works better over the long term. Ian suggested audience engagement work should be done by venues, but the problem with this approach is that they are often under resourced. The possibility of refining marketing activity to free budgets for engagement work were discussed which would allow Barnsley to focus spend on managing Local Engagement Practitioners. The venue had a positive experience with both LEP’s Natalie and Hayley. We agreed that what made Hayley so good was her specific experience and connections - she had links to the venue, and local communities and was forward thinking and independent in her approach. The experience would have been different with someone else. We discussed the idea of Hayley doing a similar role for other companies and Ian agreed this would be positive. Ian discussed another company called 'Out Of Chaos Theatre' who are performing at the venue soon - he’s made sure they have time in the building and in the local area before the show date. This is a result of the Together project. Ian discussed his willingness to programme work with more ‘difficult’ content, and marketing department’s difficulties with this work because it’s harder to sell. We both agreed that engagement (rather than marketing) is what is needed to sell tickets to these types of shows.

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Unlimited Theatre c/o West Yorkshire Playhouse Playhouse Square Quarry Hill Leeds LS2 7UP +44 (0) 113 213 7249 unlimited@unlimited.org.uk www.unlimited.org.uk @untheatre

The Together Project Report  

The Together Project sought to develop audiences for contemporary work and new writing at five venues in Yorkshire, the North East and the N...

The Together Project Report  

The Together Project sought to develop audiences for contemporary work and new writing at five venues in Yorkshire, the North East and the N...

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