Don’t ask your audience what they think.
Don’t survey your audience about your brand marketing.
Don’t involve your audience in the creation of new plays.
Don’t listen to your audience.
Don’t stop assuming you know what your audience wants.
Don’t join online social networks.
Don’t respond to people who post on your Facebook page.
Don’t reply to your Twitter followers.
Don’t ever re-tweet your followers.
Don’t actively seek out and follow civilians, artists and companies online who share your company’s interests.
Don’t respond to people who comment on your blog.
Don’t invite artists to guest blog.
Don’t create fun, low-budget videos about your company and post them online.
Don’t act like a human being.
Don’t be authentic.
Don’t cease broadcasting the same message on every platform.
Don’t continue traditional marketing practices, like advertising, contests and direct (e)mail campaigns.
Don’t reply to people when they respond to your direct (e)mail campaigns.
Don’t offer free or reasonably priced workshops for children.
Don’t offer free or reasonably priced workshops for seniors.
Don’t offer free or reasonably priced (non-fundraising) social gatherings to your overall community.
Don’t ask your audience to participate. Assume they only want to passively watch plays in your theater.
Don’t end your bellyaching about how theater is dead.
Don’t view Community Theater as a vital part of our great theater landscape.
Don’t look at your community as people you support; look at them as customers who support your business.
Don’t stop viewing ticket sales as audience engagement.
Don’t lower your prices at all. Everyone can afford to enjoy theater. This is America, after all.
Don’t offer complimentary tickets for opening night to your loyal paying fans instead of friends, family, industry and big donors who can afford to support you.
Don’t stop fashioning your season to please your subscribers.
Don’t consider what new subscribers might look like and program what they might enjoy.
Don’t change your mission because the community you once served no longer exists.
Don’t book artists from outside your community who might attract a new audience.
Don’t co-produce with other companies.
Don’t partner with non-theater making organizations and groups.
Don’t consistently, genuinely talk with your audience. Inundate them with marketing only during productions.
Don’t Never Be Dark.
Don’t diversify your administrative staff.
Don’t diversify your artistic staff.
Don’t produce plays that do not take place in a theater.
Don’t produce plays involving innovative technology.
Don’t produce women playwrights.
Don’t produce Latino playwrights.
Don’t produce African American playwrights.
Don’t produce Asian playwrights.
Don’t produce GLBT playwrights.
Don’t produce playwrights under 30.
Don’t produce anything but straight, white (preferably dead) male playwrights.
Don’t break the rules.
Don’t engage your audience.
I am honored to share “Don’t Engage Your Audience” and “It’s Innovative to…” as part of this series on TCG Circle.
James Carter is a dramatist, experience designer and producer. He was a founding member of terraNOVA Collective and its associate artistic director for eight years. He also served as season producer for The Ensemble Studio Theatre. Recent transmedia plays include FEEDER: A Love Story (terraNOVA/HERE, NYC) and NY_Hearts (One Muse Presents & The Brick Game Play Festival) a site-specific audio story that guides participants on a journey through New York neighborhoods. For more about James, read his blog onemuse.com where he explores the intersection of art and technology, or follow him on Twitter @jdcarter.