Growing Your Theatre Audience – By Understanding Your Target Audience on Social Media

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Knowledge about promotion in the theatre industry is of high importance to me this summer, since I am interning with a theatre company. Part of my job includes outreach. Many people consider theatre audiences to be particularly made up of upper-class society. This is the image depicted in movies and, in some cases, it is a fairly realistic representation. I did some digging into the demographics of theatre-goers.

According To Broadway…

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Broadway is a central hub for the performing arts. It is the home of large-scale productions, famous actors, and enamored audiences. So, clearly it is a good place to look for a picture of the theatre world. Here are some Broadway demographics, retrieved from a research report by The Broadway League:

1. The average age of audience members was 42.3

2. The average yearly income of audience members was $261,000

3. The average ticket price was $145.60

4. 81% of audience members aged 25+ had finished college

5. Most audience members did not attend the theatre alone

One interesting fact when it comes to the world of marketing is that, “twenty-two percent [of theatre-goers] said that they relied primarily on word-of-mouth from people they knew” to hear about Broadway plays.

*This information is from the 2018-2019 season

Overall, these statistics would support the Hollywood image of well-to-do couples attending the theatre with their equally rich friends. However, the world of theatre has room to accommodate all sorts of audience members.

Mixed Company Theatre

Image from Mixed Company Theatre Production

Mixed Company Theatre, the organization I am currently interning for, caters to a different collection of theatre-goers than Broadway. While wealthy patrons are welcome, Mixed Company Theatre focusses on serving the community. Each production serves to “inspire social change”. The topics they cover are sometimes controversial, such as how to handle the pandemic. After watching the show, audience members are able to join in and voice how they would handle the situation.

The current production explores the topics of suicide, mental health, and Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). The target audience for this production is seniors. A major source of promotion for this production is connecting with community organizations that may have interested members/visitors, such as retirement homes and seniors centers. The event is also promoted through social media and an electronic newsletter.

In Conclusion…

Theatre audiences vary. Usually, they are made up of middle-aged and slightly older members of society. However, that is not always the case (I first started attending outdoor theatre as a toddler). People also tend to visit the theatre in groups, it’s fun to have someone to share the experience with. Word-of-mouth plays a large role in promoting performances. Social media is also crucial for spreading the word. The Broadway League states that Google Searches are often used to discover plays. Therefore, using Search Engine Optimization Strategies, such as using popular industry-related keywords, would make performances easier to locate. Overall, it important for theatre promoters to be aware of who will be interested in their productions. The demographics provide guidance, and the content of the play will play a role in who may be likely to attend as well.

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