2 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Outline In and Out of the Dark – Lynne Conner Why does engagement really mater? What does research tell us about how audiences want to engage? Framework and Examples: Stages of Engagement Adopting an engagement philosophy Summary: What have we learned?
16 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination MacPhail Center for Music New Rehearsal/Performance Space - Perfectly Flexible - Space can be reshaped for multiple events - Invites two-way experience Audience
17 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination What does audience engagement mean?
18 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination To Engage - Core Definitional Elements Attraction or common cause Mutuality of intent; commitment or agreement Make an investment; take responsibility Unusually high level of interest, involvement or participation An act of risk; accepting liability for an uncertain outcome To become interlocked or intertwined
19 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Engagement in Arts Experiences Engagement is a guiding philosophy in the creation and delivery of arts experiences People who subscribe to this philosophy: - Encourage each participant to be a co-creator of meaning - Integrate various learning experiences with the presentation of art - Accept that people have different ways of engaging, and allow audience members to curate their own learning experience - Accept that not everyone relates to art on an intellectual basis - Embrace many pathways through the art form
20 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Whats driving the cultural sector towards engagement?
21 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination A Confluence of Many Forces Demand for shorter and more intense experiences - Extract more value from the same investment Shift towards more active forms of participation Rise of new forms of creative expression The culture of continuous feedback The second generation of experience learners Expectation that leisure experiences can be customized - e.g., choosing to watch the directors cut
22 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination But why does engagement really matter? Because it magnifies impact.
28 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination What does research tell us about how audiences want to engage?
29 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Lets start with two basic questions: Generally, how much do you like to prepare in advance for performances by reading, watching or listening to information about the artist or program? Generally, how much do you like to debate or critique performances afterwards?
30 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Results: Most people are somewhat inclined to engage…. BUT… some really are, and some really arent Source: Six University Presenters (multi-disciplinary sample)
31 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Talking about it is the dominant form of engagement of the six activities tested; likelihood declines with age Source: Six University Presenters (multi-disciplinary sample)
32 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Who engages in online activities? Source: Six University Presenters (multi-disciplinary sample)
33 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Some people like to arrive at the theatre with lots of context on the play they are about to see, while others prefer not to know much about what they are going to see, in order to have an open mind and allow for the element of surprise (i.e., a blank canvas). All else being equal, where are you along this continuum? (circle a number) 1 = Much Context, 4 = No Preference, 7 = Blank Canvas Source: Major theatre company in a large midwestern city
34 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Most want at least a bit of context…
35 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Some people enjoy vigorously discussing the meaning or merits of a play immediately after the performance, while others prefer to reflect quietly on their own. All else being equal, where are you along this continuum? (circle a number) 1 = Reflect Privately, 4 = No Preference, 7 = Discuss Vigorously
36 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Most tend to reflect privately; how are you going to reach them?
37 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Younger buyers are more likely to be involved in participatory theatre activities, and less likely to rely on reviews
38 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Factor analysis reveals five overlapping modalities Readers (94%) Talkers (86%) Bloggers (26%) Listeners (18%) Actors (12%)
39 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination A large orchestra on the east coast Commissioned a segmentation study Input variables included: - Musical tastes: eclectic vs. classical-focused - Knowledge level about classical music - Appetite for new works by living composers - Preferences for different concert formats - Preferences for engagement activities - Motivations for attending - Influence of purchase decision factors
40 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination A four-segment customer model illustrates the diversity within this audience base
41 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Six in ten want brief introductions from the stage
42 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Summary
43 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination What does research tell us? Audiences are diverse with respect to engagement - Younger audiences are far more likely than older audiences to engage online, and tend to prefer more active forms of engagement - Some older audiences long for the arts education experience they had as children - Some people would actually prefer educational formats Lectures and discussions tend to attract people who are already knowledgeable about the art form - How can you engage the big middle of the audience? Patrons with lower knowledge levels prefer talking from the stage over reading printed program notes Need to provide context in layers, so people get take a little or a lot Be careful about vocabulary (i.e., level of difficulty) Eliciting informal conversation outside of our venues may be a big win
44 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination A Simple Framework: Stages of Engagement
45 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Stages of Engagement Pre-performance - It all starts with marketing: messaging about engagement - The purchase: give options - Post-purchase: build anticipation, preparatory activities At or during the performance - Interpretive assistance - Participatory activities After the Performance & Forever - Structured processing in-venue - Unstructured processing out of the venue - Memory elicitation Apart from the Performance - Digital engagement - Audience involvement in art creation
46 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Pre-Performance
47 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Marketing as an Engagement Process The marketing message should signal engagement opportunities Send the first engagement message with ticket acknowledgement Seamless transition from marketing cycle to engagement cycle - Objective: Heighten anticipation Will audiences pay to be engaged? Should engagement cost?
48 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Examples of Preparatory Activities: In-depth information available through website (pull) Audio briefings accessed via website (pull) Listening to audio recordings at home or in the car on the way Distribute season primer CDs (SF Opera) Skills-building programs (ArtSavvy, Dance 101) Mail or email contextual information to patrons (push)
49 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination At or During Performances
50 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Examples of at-venue engagement activities: Sit in your seat and read the program notes Pre-performance lectures or executive briefings Introductory videos (e.g., Appalachian Spring) Interpretive assistance during performances - Supertitles (translation or commentary) - Talking from the stage - Interpretive text broadcast to mobile devices Visual representations of music Other format innovations Real time audience input/feedback
51 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Martha Graham Dance Company Incorporated supertitles into a touring production of Clytemnestra - Reviewer: Supertitles help audiences approach what could, without context, come across as a museum piece; spoken, often humorous introductions to the repertory do the same. It is tempting to dismiss these efforts as heretical, but they seem to engage viewers.
52 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Concert Companion Embedded interpretation - Concert Companion (CoCo), a hand-held PDA device - Interpretive assistance synchronized with the music - Users read information in real-time - Tested with Kansas City Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic - Greatest resistance was from musicians Audience
53 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination National Symphony Orchestra at Wolf Trap Audience Engagement Deliver interpretive content during concerts via Twitter - "With this first ever in-time symphonic Twitter you can have the conductor as your personal guide through Beethoven's most colorful and atmospheric work, explained Conductor Emil de Cou. I have designed the tweets to go perfectly with ideas I have about the piece as I conduct it but also some interesting commentary to go along with the sights and sounds of Beethoven's day in the countryside: an adult musical pop-up book written for first timers and concert veterans alike."
54 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination After Performances
55 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Examples of post-performance engagement activities: Post-performance discussions with the artist - Attendance has doubled at the Kennedy Center discussions after dance performances Read a critics review - But professional criticism has vanished in many markets - Some efforts to replace it (sfcv.org) Discussion circles, handouts Radio call in show React to the performance in an online forum - Build an authentic feedback loop with the audience
56 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination University Musical Society Eliciting feedback from audiences - Production of The Elephant Vanishes (four performances) - Needed to quickly generate community excitement Process - Sent an e-mail to attendees on opening night asking for audience comments Outcomes - Received ecstatic emails - Generated 25% of sales after 1 st performance - Empowered audience as critics Audience
57 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Forever
58 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination What happens to the memory of arts experiences? Printed programs play a role Some people remember experiences for a lifetime - Others sleep through it Mondavi Center: handing out artist cards to youth What can you do to ensure that people remember your experiences? - Send audio files? Image files? Create an online scrapbook?
59 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination The New Frontier: Engaging Audiences in Creating Artistic Content, and even in Program Planning
60 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Examples TakeOver09 (York Theatre Royal) - A festival run by young people, with young people, for everyone Art Institute of Chicago - Panels of representatives of target communities (e.g., African Americans) collaborate with staff to design exhibitions Cornerstone Theater - Develops plays around community themes, with extensive community involvement
61 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Hannah Rudman: Organizational Porosity and User Generated Content (video) Head of U.K.s ambITion project (digital engagement) Video message to Project Audience Rapidly evolving landscape New forms of co-creation - Its not about giving up control Culture cannot be provided, but is generated together - Open source artistic direction Return of the amateur For more information about Hannah Rudman, see: http://consultrudman.wordpress.com/ http://consultrudman.wordpress.com/ See online references at: http://delicious.com/hanrudman/ugchttp://delicious.com/hanrudman/ugc
62 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Audience as Co-Author of Meaning
63 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Summary
64 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination What lessons have we learned? Engagement occurs when audiences participate actively in designing and interpreting their own experience Small organizations have more flexibility to adopt engagement practices Sometimes, engagement requires performing in less than ideal circumstances New/redesigned physical spaces can enable a higher degree of engagement Constituent input (feedback loop) is a key success factor Drawing a line between audience engagement and community engagement is unnecessary and ultimately limiting We need engage audiences regardless of where they are in their arc of involvement with the art form It is difficult to reach alignment around engagement as a philosophy when you have inflexible conceptions of how the art form should be experienced
65 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination How do arts groups move towards an engagement orientation?
66 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Three Levels of Adoption Departmental Cross- Functional Organizational – Institutionalized at the departmental level – Specific outcomes desired – Core programs are protected – Departments work together and share risk – Tend to be project-based (e.g., residencies) – Supplemental to core programming –Philosophical alignment at the board level –Artistic leadership is a full partner, and core programming is an instrument of engagement –Org. structure serves engagement goals
67 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Practice occurs on a continuum from Community Engagement to Audience Engagement; is the distinction necessary? Audience Departmental Organizational Cross-Functional Community
68 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination AudienceCommunity In-school concerts Residencies Youth orchestras Customer service Interactive technology Target marketing Stakeholder Input Benefits-based programming Venue diversification Festivals and special programs Free performances Contextual Programs Embedded Interpretation Post-Processing Education is integral to every production Critical dialogue encouraged Holistic view of the art form Artists are teachers, interpreters Alignment Educational enhancements What does alignment look like?
69 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Successfully engaging your audiences can lead to… Increased relevance to existing audiences Higher retention rates Broadened awareness and reach in the community Higher levels of loyalty and community ownership More critical dialogue about the art More public and private support because of higher impact More sensitivity to, and support for, the value of intrinsic impacts
70 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Discussion
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