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1 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Creative Trust December 10, 2009 Toronto, Ontario © WolfBrown 2009 All Rights Reserved.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Creative Trust December 10, 2009 Toronto, Ontario © WolfBrown 2009 All Rights Reserved."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Creative Trust December 10, 2009 Toronto, Ontario © WolfBrown 2009 All Rights Reserved

2 2 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Agenda – Part 1 – Research What does ‘audience engagement’ mean? Why is the sector paying more attention to engagement? What does research tell us about how audiences want to engage? Agenda – Part 2 - Practice Stages of engagement Examples of engagement practices (case studies) Adopting an engagement philosophy Assessment

3 3 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination What does “audience engagement” mean to you?

4 4 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination The Many Senses of Engagement 1.To hire: to engage a worker; to engage a room. 2.To sustain interest: The novel engaged her attention and interest. 3.To attract or please: His good nature engages everyone. 4.To bind, as by pledge, promise, contract, or oath; make liable: He engaged himself to repay his debt within a month. 5.To betroth (usually used in the passive): They were engaged last week. 6.To enter into conflict with: Our army engaged the enemy. 7.To cause to become interlocked (gears or the like) 8.To pledge one's word; assume an obligation: I was unwilling to engage on such terms.

5 5 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination 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

6 6 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 - Realize that not everyone relates to art on an intellectual basis - Embrace many pathways through the art form

7 7 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination What’s driving the cultural sector towards offering engagement programs and activities?

8 8 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., the director’s cut

9 9 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Why does engagement matter?

10 10 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination

11 11 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination

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14 14 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination

15 15 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

16 16 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination What does research tell us about how audience want to engage?

17 17 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination A large midwestern theatre company in a major metro area Let’s 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?

18 18 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Results: Most people are somewhat inclined to engage…. BUT… some really do, and some really don’t Source: Six University Presenters (multi-disciplinary sample)

19 19 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)

20 20 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Who engages in online activities? Source: Six University Presenters (multi-disciplinary sample)

21 21 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

22 22 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Most want at least a bit of context…

23 23 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Most want at least a bit of context… but younger audiences are less inclined

24 24 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination This theatre’s audiences like to prepare in various ways – mostly reading and talking

25 25 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

26 26 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Most tend to reflect privately; how are you going to reach them?

27 27 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Informal discussion is the dominant form of post-processing

28 28 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Younger buyers are more likely to be involved in participatory theatre activities, and less likely to rely on reviews

29 29 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Factor analysis reveals five overlapping modalities Readers (94%) Talkers (86%) Bloggers (26%) Listeners (18%) Actors (12%)

30 30 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Casual Conversation (92%) A somewhat different view for another regional theatre in California Critical Review (80%) Intellectual Reflection (41%) Theatre Arts (26%) Online Engagement (20%)

31 31 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination 31 Younger audiences tend to have more active connections to the art form; what does this mean?

32 32 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination A large opera company in the U.K… 10 Engagement Activities Were Tested: Read programme notes prior to arriving Prior to arriving, read about the singers who’ll be performing Prior to arriving, seek out information about the opera online Prior to arriving, listen to musical excerpts at home Attend pre-performance scholarly lectures Read programme notes at the venue Read supertitles during the performance Stay afterwards for talk-backs with the performers Talk about the performance afterwards with your family or friends React to the performance in an online blog or forum

33 33 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination A large opera company in the U.K… Along with Five Other Forms of Involvement: Sing in a choir or perform in operas or musicals Listen to opera recordings at home Read or contribute to online blogs or forums about opera Attend broadcasts of operas in cinemas Go to the opera while travelling or on holiday

34 34 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Again, five engagement modalities, based on factor analysis Multi-Channel Opera Omnivores (52%) Listeners / Ponderers (32%) Preparers (46%) Singers (15%) Bloggers (10%)

35 35 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Engagement Tendencies, by Audience Segment

36 36 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

37 37 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination A four-segment customer model illustrates the diversity within this audience base

38 38 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Six in ten want brief introductions from the stage

39 39 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Preference Levels for Types of Engagement

40 40 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Summary

41 41 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

42 42 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Part 2 (10:00 a.m.) Sculpting the experience: A framework for thinking about audience engagement, including an overview of new engagement practices

43 43 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

44 44 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Pre-Performance

45 45 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Marketing as an Engagement Process The marketing message should signal engagement opportunities Send first engagement message with ticket acknowledgement Seamless transition from marketing cycle to engagement cycle - Heighten anticipation Will audiences pay to be engaged?

46 46 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 contextual information to patrons (push) What are some other examples? - Write down any ideas that you’re interested in exploring this afternoon

47 47 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination At or During Performances

48 48 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 Real time audience input/feedback What are some other examples?

49 49 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.

50 50 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

51 51 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."

52 52 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination New World Symphony Format Experimentation - Mini Concerts: short, casual concert experiences lasting up to 30 minutes - Club-Style Concerts: an evening-long, lounge-style social setting - Discovery Concerts: extended, introductory explanations of the music with visual enhancements - Journey Concerts: full-length concerts using different ensembles to fully present the breadth of works by one composer

53 53 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Arts In Motion, Philadelphia

54 54 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Arts In Motion, Philadelphia

55 55 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Pacific Symphony Music Unwound - Interactive and educational core programming - Example: Photochoreography for recent performance of Alpine Symphony

56 56 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

57 57 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination After Performances

58 58 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 critic’s review - But professional criticism has vanished in many markets - Some efforts to replace it (sfcv.org) React to the performance in an online forum Radio call in show What are some other examples?

59 59 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 to attendees on opening night asking for audience comments Outcomes - Received ecstatic s - Generated 25% of sales after 1 st performance - Empowered audience as critics Audience

60 60 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Forever

61 61 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?

62 62 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Apart from Performances: Digital Engagement, Engaging Audiences in Acts of Co-Creation

63 63 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination On the Boards OtBTV - Online video on-demand, pay- per-view programming - Full-length, high-definition contemporary dance - Extra features Include podcasts, audience blogs, and artist voices

64 64 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Berlin Philharmonic Digital Subscription - Major effort to attempt a new business model - Produce high quality audio/video recordings of concerts - Sell them as a subscription experience - philharmoniker.de/en/media/digital-concert-hall/ philharmoniker.de/en/media/digital-concert-hall/

65 65 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Steppenwolf Theater Online Customer Center - Planning a new website that will allow customers to log in and build a micro site for themselves - Accumulate memories (images, videos, personal comments) - Access educational materials - Profile themselves - Interact with other audience members - Invite friends -

66 66 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination The New Frontier: Engaging Audiences in Creating Artistic Content, and even in Program Planning 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

67 67 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Hannah Rudman: Organizational Porosity and User Generated Content (video) Rapidly evolving landscape New forms of co-creation - “It’s not about giving up control” Culture cannot be ‘provided,’ but is generated together - ‘Open source’ artistic direction Return of the amateur See online references at: For more information about Hannah Rudman, see:

68 68 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Audience as Co-Author of Meaning

69 69 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Summary of Case Study Research

70 70 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination What lessons have we learned? Engagement occurs when audiences participate actively in designing and interpreting their experience Transparency invites engagement 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 is a key success factor Drawing a line between audience engagement and community engagement is unnecessary and ultimately limiting Accepting audiences where ever they are in their arc of involvement with the art form It is extremely difficult to reach alignment around engagement as a philosophy when you have inflexible conceptions of how the art form should be experienced

71 71 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination How do arts groups move towards an engagement orientation?

72 72 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

73 73 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

74 74 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Where do your engagement practices fall? Audience Departmental Organizational Cross-Functional Community

75 75 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Beginning Map of Engagement Practices 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 Visual Enhancements Embedded Interpretation Education is integral to every production Critical dialogue encouraged Holistic view of the art form Artists are teachers, interpreters Alignment Educational enhancements

76 76 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Assessing audience engagement activities

77 77 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination What does success look like? What are the outcomes of engagement programs? How would you know if you’ve successfully engaged someone? What’s the evidence? Focus on intrinsic impacts - Captivation - Emotional resonance - Spiritual value - Aesthetic growth - Intellectual stimulation - Social bonding

78 78 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination Lunch Break

79 79 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination

80 80 Audience Engagement – A Close Examination


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