Magazine article American Theatre

Deep Impact

Magazine article American Theatre

Deep Impact

Article excerpt

NATIONWIDE: Single-ticket buyers are more passionate than loyal subscribers; theatres should sell audiences on a play's story, not the talent behind it; post-show talkbacks are a must.

These are just a few of the takeaways from "Understanding the Intrinsic Impact of Live Theatre," a sweeping new theatre-audience study by the research firm of Wolf-Brown, commissioned by Theatre Bay Area. The study surveyed theatregoers within the purview of not only TBA but partner organizations LA Stage Alliance, Arts Midwest, ART/New York, Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia and Helen Hayes Awards/Theatre Washington.

Results of the study, conducted among audiences for 54 productions at 18 theatres between November 2010 and September 2011, will be published in late March. TBA's communications director, Clayton Lord, previewed some of the key findings and challenges the study brings to light.

Most striking was what he called the "central riddle of impact"--that single-ticket buyers on average report "significantly higher impacts than subscribers," which poses some tough questions. As Lord phrases it, "If first-timers and low-frequency attenders are more satisfied than high-frequency attenders, on average, why are they not attending more frequently? This seems counterintuitive, and might speak to an underlying driver of the 'churn' phenomenon. It seems to suggest that satisfaction with the artistic experience, alone, is not enough to drive repeat purchase. …

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