Put the Audience in Charge

It makes total sense, right? If you’re trying to reach a certain demographic, why not ask for their input?

Catherine Love reports for The Guardian about two theaters in York and Manchester that are going beyond just asking audience members to fill out surveys. They’re recruiting them to help with programming decisions.

Love writes, “For the last year or so, the [York] Theatre Royal has not only been asking its audience what they think of their shows — it has invited them to make programming decisions themselves. They’ve attended workshops, met everyone from the artistic director to the graphic designer, and taken responsibility for a week-long festival in the studio.”

One of the upsides to this kind of initiative for Contact in Manchester is that its “Re:Con programming group often spot artists and companies that staff aren’t yet aware of.”

Love concludes with a question posed by Contact’s artistic director, Matt Fenton:

“The real question, Fenton suggests, is: ‘Why are there not more examples we can point to that demonstrate this way of working?’ He believes that trying to programme for any audience without input from that demographic or background is doomed to fall flat.”

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