The old saying has it that laws are like sausages—the less you know about how they are made, the more you like them. Theatre, however, may be more like a garden, and increasingly, audiences want to get their hands dirty. In every community I’ve visited of late—from the San Francisco Bay Area to Fairfield County—theatres are experiencing increased audience interest in the behind-the-scenes process of theatre.
This anecdotal evidence is borne out by Theatre Facts 2010, with attendance at workshops and readings increasing 29% and attendance at event offerings like backstage tours, talkbacks and cabarets rising an astounding 47% over a 5-year period. (A quick side-note reminder: these statistics are made possible by your participation in the Fiscal Survey, so don’t forget to complete the survey by the final extended deadline of Friday, April 6!)
Clearly, a lot has changed since we first published Danny Newman’s Subscribe Now! in 1977. Those changes have been nurtured through programs like our New Generations: Future Audiences, and recently, there’s been a surge of audience research. To create a comprehensive home to better share, measure and implement this knowledge across the entire field, we are thrilled to announce our new Audience (R)Evolution program.
Unfolding over three years, Audience (R)Evolution will feature four phases: research and assessment, a convening, grant-making and widespread dissemination of audience engagement models that work. This program is made possible by our long-standing partnership with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the assessment phase will be carried out with AMS Planning and Research. Visit our website to learn more about this bold, multi-pronged effort to help strengthen the bonds between our Member Theatres and the communities they serve.
Audience engagement is also a theme in our upcoming MetLife/TCG A-ha! Leadership Webinar The Future of Engagement: Social Media and Your Audience, with Shane D. Hudson, social media consultant for the arts. Registration is free for Member Theatres and has been extended to Friday, March 30. Read a recent interview with Shane here on the TCG Circle, and check out the archive of our most recent webinar, Machine Project: Seeing the Unconventional in the Everyday.
All of this model sharing and engagement strategizing will culminate at the 2012 TCG Conference: Model the Movement in Boston this June (and the early bird deadline is rapidly approaching!) Until then, don’t forget to leave the gate to the garden open.