This is the first in-depth theatre specific report on audience attendance in Northern Ireland, a valuable initial step in building up a clear picture of theatre audiences across the country. Using multiple different methodologies to help accommodate the variety of product on offer and data available, it provides the statistical analysis required to give theatre producers and venues a better insight into their current and potential future audiences.
This report identifies the following priorities moving forward:
- Enhancing the available picture with improved data collection: Filling existing gaps in data collection, ideally by processing as much information through computerised ticketing systems as possible.
- Building a picture of audience behaviour over time: Expanding the scope of any future research beyond a single year would enable the use of re-attendance year on year at theatre as an additional measure, allowing the issue of genre and venue loyalty to be explored in more detail.
- Further exploring geographic reach in the context of customer behaviour: Additional understanding of the extent to which audiences remain loyal to local venues, or are attracted to other venues, is required.
- Improving frequency of attendance rates: More frequent attendees at the arts generally in the short term are more likely to become re-attendees in the long term, suggesting that the starting point for building an audience in the longer term is increasing frequency of attendance in the short term.
- Measuring and articulating value and impact: If success and value are only measured in terms of tickets and revenue, then much of the valuable work carried out by theatre producers and programmers in Northern Ireland remains unseen.
- Further investigation into how value and impact can be measured and articulated consistently across the sector, in a language which suits the needs of both the sector and its funders, is recommended.