As the field has gotten better and better at marketing, it has gotten worse at audience development,”
argues Tory Bailey in this thought-provoking talk. And because marketers have become so good at traditional modes of marketing, audiences keep looking the same. One could ask: if the theatres are full and we are achieving the results we need, does it really matter?
“To me it matters a lot. It matters because there are lots of people not in the picture — and everyone has a right to be there. It matters because the arts are for everyone. It matters because everyone needs to hear stories of the other.”
Beyond the drive for broader storytelling, current research shows numerous practical reasons to seek to diversify audiences.
TDF has built several programs to engage new audiences. The Wendy Wasserstein Project, which started 20 years ago, now serves 24 groups of eight people every year, with nearly 2,600 alumni. The Autism Theatre Initiative offers five-sensory friendly performances a year. TDF Create NY works with one community organization per borough, one cohort per year, for three years; at the end of the program year they self-curate an event in their community.
Participants in an education program for the show Mean Girls.
Start small, she advises. Don't go it alone. And make it last.
Click the play button above to watch the full talk, recorded live at the Tessitura Learning & Community Conference in Orlando in July 2018.