Marketing Your Theater

By Kirk, Fiona | Stage Directions, September 2002 | Go to article overview

Marketing Your Theater


Kirk, Fiona, Stage Directions


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The costumes are fitted, the stage is swept and the actors are ready to perform. After hours of tech rehearsal and planning, the set, lights and sound equipment are in working order and the stage manager is ready to call places. But when the lobby doors are opened, the number of people straggling through isn't quite what you expected. When everyone has worked so hard, low audience turnout can be a real letdown. Marketing your theater company is just as important as finding the right cast and designers, whether you're talking about a large, established regional venue or a new community theater. With a specific plan of action, all of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes can be seen and appreciated.

1

Identify Yourself

First of all, define what kind of theater you want to produce, keeping in mind the specific needs of your community. Come up with a mission statement that describes what you're all about, and use that as a jumping-off point to examine what you have to offer. What are the demographics and ethnic makeup of your city or town? What do you have to offer that stays true to your mission and will draw in new audience members? By really taking stock, you'll be in a better position to market your theater company.

2

Expand Your Horizons

Come up with a list of potential audience members. Reach out to local schools, universities, clubs, senior citizen groups and professional organizations and compile a mailing list for your target audience, Once you've identified these groups, adapt your marketing strategy accordingly. Some groups will respond better to mailings, some to brochures, while for others, posters may be the best way to reach the greatest number of people.

3

Spread The Word

Be sure to get the specifics for each play listed in the arts section of your local newspapers, and don't forget the alternative weeklies. Taking out an advertisement is a great way to catch the attention of a large number of possible theatergoers. Keep the text short and sweet, and include a professional-quality photograph. Although rehearsal shots are fine, try to stage a photo shoot using actors in full makeup and costumes.

4

Give (And Get) More Bang For The Buck

Put together subscription packages so your core audience can see the entire season for a reduced price. When someone new comes to see a show, be sure to follow up with a phone call a couple of weeks later offering a subscription. …

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