Australian Theatre Forum: Audience Activations

Griffin Theatre's thousand wooden spoons around Sydney: a viral momentum.

Who are our audiences?  How to we connect with them?  How do we grow them? How do we talk to them?

At Activating Audiences, we were given four very different takes on growing these audiences, and what it means to really connect with an audience beyond an exchange of money for tickets and spending an hour or two together in the dark.

The four people who spoke are trying to connect and activate with different audiences, and through that expand the people they are talking to.

Sam Strong talked about Between The Lines, “a venture that puts events and activities around [their] core events”, which are the four or five theatre works Griffin Theatre Company produces a year.  Bring different types of art into their theatre, and bringing parts of their work and audience interactions out of the theatre, Griffin has seen a measurable increase in interaction with the company – both online and in seats.  “Different art forms equals different audiences.”

One of the ways the company has done this over the past couple of years has been changing the nature of the idea around marketing: “Not seeing marketing as this necessary evil you have to put up with when you’re making your art, but discovering the art in your marketing.”

For Kyle Morrison and Yirra Yaakin, “it’s the community you want in the theatre, it’s your community you want to talk to, it’s your community you want to connect with.”  Kyle told us of “one of the most beautiful moments [he’s] ever had in the theatre”: performing with the company he is now artists director of when he was nineteen, he saw two young Aboriginal girls with a school group in the audience, and he delivered one of his lines in their language directly too them.  They were the only two people in the audience who laughed, and “they were there, they we with us, they were following the community.  It really was the most beautiful point in my theatrical career.”

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