A large scale survey of Toronto’s creative performing arts companies about motivations to attend and what helps them connect more deeply with the work they see on stage.
We are pleased to share the results of Creative Trust's Audience Engagement Survey - a first-time, collaborative initiative by Toronto's creative performing arts companies to hear directly from their audiences on what motivates them to attend and what helps them connect more deeply with the work they see on stage.
It is an initiative that brought 20 cross disciplinary companies together to learn how to design and plan programs and activities - both individually and collectively - which intensify the impact of their audiences' experience and stimulate attendance. The survey, which was developed as part of Creative Trust's Audiences Project, also provides an in-depth picture of performing arts audiences in Toronto with a special focus on their engagement preferences.
The Audience Engagement Survey was undertaken by Lead Consultant Alan Brown of WolfBrown Consulting and Research Associate Kelly Hill of Hill Strategies Research. Their expertise and guidance turned a primary data collection process into one of inspiration and active learning, which is assisting a core group of companies to interact with their audiences in a deeper, more fulfilling way.
In the spring of 2010, 20 of Toronto's mid-size and small music, theatre, opera and dance companies emailed an online Audience Engagement Survey to approximately 30,000 of their audience members. These Creative Trust organisations had actively participated in compiling email lists of their recent attenders and personalising the survey invitation; they subsequently crafted reminder messages and fielded questions from audience members who received the survey.
In addition to general demographic information, the survey protocol (developed by Alan Brown and Kelly Hill with input from Creative Trust) asked questions relating to attendance at participating companies' events, companions they attended events with, motivations for attending, and preferred activities before, at/during, and after performances. Answers were given in a variety of ways, including check boxes, drop-down boxes, radio buttons and blank comment fields, allowing the respondents to give diverse and accurate information.
We are grateful to Thèâtre français de Toronto who helped Creative Trust translate the survey into French for Francophone audience members.
The survey had a total of 3,662 respondents, whose detailed and generous responses reinforced the fact that 57% of those who completed the survey indicated that attending live performances is "a vital activity for me".
The results and implications of this study, which gathered both company-specific and aggregated results, were discussed at a Summary Presentation by Alan Brown in June 2010. They are now being used by the participating companies to review, revise and create new programs to engage their audiences.
We believe that the survey's results will also be of value to any organisation or individual interested in audience development. It is our hope that this study will serve to stimulate discussion and innovation, ultimately creating a more meaningful audience experience in our own city and elsewhere.