Writers' Theatre


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Writers' Theatre

  1. 1. FAST FACTS <ul><li>Operating budget of $3.3 million – a growth of 722% in the last ten years – making us one of the largest of the 190 League of Chicago member theaters. </li></ul><ul><li>Over 5,300 subscribers/members– a growth of over 260% in the last eight years </li></ul><ul><li>Our subscribers are very loyal, with 82% renewing their subscriptions. (The industry average is 73%.*) </li></ul><ul><li>Subscribers comprise 80% of our audience. (The industry average is 25%.*) </li></ul><ul><li>We receive donations from 22% of our subscribers. </li></ul><ul><li>*TCG Theatre Facts, 2008 </li></ul>
  2. 2. FAST FACTS – cont’d <ul><li>Writers’ Theatre operates at 91% capacity. (The industry average is 72%*). </li></ul><ul><li>We have operated in the black for all of our 17 seasons. </li></ul><ul><li>Our education outreach programs serve nearly 10,000 students annually </li></ul><ul><li>We employ approximately 150 actors, designers, directors & production staff each season </li></ul><ul><li>Recently named “best drama company” in America by The Wall Street Journal </li></ul>
  3. 3. Key Findings of AMS Research Survey (2009) <ul><li>STRENGTHS </li></ul><ul><li>The artistry at Writers’ Theatre is seen as comparable and competitive to Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, and the Goodman </li></ul><ul><li>Intimate </li></ul><ul><li>Writers’ Theatre was still a “best kept secret” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Writers’ Theatre is like your favorite restaurant with 10 tables, as opposed to your favorite restaurant with 100 tables.” </li></ul>
  4. 4. Key Findings of AMS Research Survey (2009) <ul><li>STRENGTHS (continued) </li></ul><ul><li>Confidence and Respect for Artistic and Executive Leadership </li></ul><ul><li>Location: Subs/members find the WT spaces convenient, easy access to transportation, free parking </li></ul><ul><li>CHALLENGES </li></ul><ul><li>No amenities to compliment theatre-going (no restaurants, bars, etc ) </li></ul><ul><li>Location: Far to just drive out and “try” a show </li></ul><ul><li>Writers’ Theatre was still a “best kept secret” </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Bookstore – 50 Seats
  6. 6. Tudor Court – 108 Seats
  7. 7. Demographics <ul><li>A data file analysis of Writers’ Theatre’s subscribers revealed that its core audience members are active patrons in the Chicago cultural landscape, attending a wide variety of arts events and other forms of entertainment numerous times throughout the year including dance, museums, music, movies and sports. </li></ul><ul><li>AGE RANGE OF AUDIENCE: 37% ( 65-74); 28% (55-64); 23% (over 75); 12% (35-54) </li></ul><ul><li>GENDER: 59% Female; 41% Male </li></ul>
  8. 8. Demographics – cont’d <ul><li>INCOME: Over $150,000-52%; 16% $75,000–$99,999; 16% $50,000–$74,999; 12% $100,000–$149,999; 4% Less than $50,00 </li></ul><ul><li>EDUCATION BACKGROUND: 61% Graduate Degree; 31% Bachelor Degree; 8% High School/Some College </li></ul>
  9. 9. The Brand <ul><li>One of the hallmarks of Writers' Theatre is intimacy, which plays heavily into our branding.  </li></ul><ul><li>“ The 360 Experience” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Using aggressively cropped images and production photos gives our materials a consistent feel while also conveying a greater sense of who we are and what kind of experience they will have when they come to the theatre.  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Such images trigger emotional responses – and we connect that response to the experience in the theatre </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. The Brand – cont’d <ul><li>Our brand reflects the high-quality art that we produce.  Whether is mentioned directly, as in our taglines from this season and next, &quot;Experience the Best&quot; or &quot;Enter Excellence,&quot; or the quality of our work is reflected the care and precision we put into each piece we produce down to the paper choices.  We aim to reinforce the high caliber of the art in all of our messaging.  </li></ul><ul><li>This also helps to brand our two venues, which have an extremely limited availability and gives a greater sense of urgency to purchase tickets/subscriptions </li></ul>
  11. 13. SOCIAL MEDIA <ul><li>The use of technology combined with social interaction to create or co-create value </li></ul><ul><li>3 out of 4 Americans use technology </li></ul><ul><li>Visiting social sites is now the 4 th most popular online activity – ahead of email </li></ul><ul><li>85% of social media users believe that a company should go further than just having a presence on social sites and should also interact with its customers </li></ul><ul><li>96% of LORT Theatres are on Facebook; 82% are on Twitter; 88% on YouTube </li></ul><ul><li>Great for customer service, recruiting, contests, giveaways and promotions </li></ul>
  12. 14. SOCIAL MEDIA – con’t <ul><li>Social media gives us the opportunity to engage in non-transactional ways with current and potential audiences, deepening our relationships with the public and further ingraining Writers' Theatre into their consciousness and gives them a reason to keep coming back to our website and social media outlets.  </li></ul><ul><li>We have active Blog, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts with over 800 Facebook fans and 700 Twitter followers.    </li></ul><ul><li>We've launched a new program this season, TWEET SEATS, a day-of ticket discount program. Follow Writers' Theatre on Twitter (Twitter.com/WritersTheatre).   </li></ul>
  13. 15. SOCIAL MEDIA – cont’d <ul><li>Everyday by 3pm, Writers' will Tweet a code that can be used to purchase remaining seats for that day’s performance at a discount. Tweet Seats are available for purchase only through the Writers' Theatre website at writerstheatre.org.  </li></ul><ul><li>We have multiple Twitter accounts: @WritersTheatre, @kpuma, @stuartcarden </li></ul><ul><li>Through Twitter, I now have circles of interested parties all over the US (able to have conversations and share and respond immediately) </li></ul>
  14. 16. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT <ul><li>From a traditional marketing standpoint, we engage with </li></ul><ul><li>audiences through traditional print, online and outdoor </li></ul><ul><li>media.  We also send marketing pieces to our mailing lists, </li></ul><ul><li>traded lists and we leverage our e-marketing lists as well.  </li></ul><ul><li>All of our in-person audience engagement activities give people </li></ul><ul><li>a human connection to us and demystifies the theater.  The </li></ul><ul><li>arts can be intimidating to people who are interested but who </li></ul><ul><li>are not regular attendees, and by engaging with people in a one- </li></ul><ul><li>on-one fashion, the level of intimidation is virtually taken </li></ul><ul><li>away.  </li></ul>
  15. 17. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT- cont’d <ul><li>In-person engagement opportunities include: </li></ul><ul><li>FROM PAGE TO STAGE is a very successful audience/community engagement program.   Partnering with libraries across the North Shore, we have the opportunity to provide potential and current patrons with background information about a production to deepen their understanding of the play.  It is offered free of charge and has grown over the last five years to include over 12 events in a six week period leading up to a production.  </li></ul><ul><li>WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE THE SHOW gives audience members the opportunity to engage in a quick discussion </li></ul><ul><li>30 minutes before the performance to give them the necessary background information to get the most out of </li></ul><ul><li>the production. </li></ul>
  16. 18. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT- cont’d <ul><li>POST-SHOW DISCUSSIONS: Led by a member of the artistic staff and joined by cast members, audiences can give feedback about the production directly after the performance and can be given the opportunity to discuss more challenging aspects of the piece. </li></ul><ul><li>LITERARY LUNCHEON </li></ul><ul><li>ACCESS TO ART AND ARTISTS: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Open rehearsals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Special intimate events with artists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Copies of scripts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Actors we know and love/comfort </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Roundtables with directors and staff </li></ul></ul><ul><li>BRIEF CHRONICLE MAGAZINE </li></ul>
  17. 19. PERSONAL TOUCH <ul><li>Audiences feel like they know Michael and Kate and staff </li></ul><ul><li>Michael answers people's email and letters when they write in to comment on the shows (good or bad).  That kind of recognition and making your audiences feel heard is what keeps them coming back, even if they didn’t like a production they saw </li></ul><ul><li>Directors meet with staff to discuss show </li></ul><ul><li>Michael meets with box office staff and house managers to discuss show </li></ul><ul><li>Involved in local community (holiday gatherings, Chamber of Commerce) </li></ul><ul><li>Thank you notes on chairs </li></ul><ul><li>Staff rep at theatre </li></ul>
  18. 20. PERSONAL TOUCH - cont’d <ul><li>Box office staff and house managers are trained so that there is courtesy, professionalism and consistency in every interaction with the public face of WT. </li></ul><ul><li>Reminder postcards and emails to audience members a week before show </li></ul><ul><li>Wait list for sold out shows </li></ul><ul><li>Post show emails to STB’s, thanking them for coming to show </li></ul><ul><li>Easy access on website </li></ul><ul><li>Personal calls to ticket buyers ahead of show to discuss changes (i.e. Streetcar, Oh Coward) </li></ul><ul><li>One Stop Shopping (tickets, parking, maps, dinner reservations, etc.) </li></ul>
  19. 21. TWO WAYS TO EXPERIENCE WT <ul><li>SUBS: keep the same seats </li></ul><ul><li>MEMBERS: guaranteed seats, but flexibility to choose perf dates during a priority booking period </li></ul>
  20. 22. IN PROGRESS <ul><li>SURVEYS : Traditional surveys give us a baseline of demographics, use and media preferences.  Next step: surveys that assess the audience's emotional response to the work, the theatre, the experience.   </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Questions are along the lines of whether audiences felt challenged, moved or engaged by the show and whether they noticed time passing during it, levels of interest in terms of themes, attitudes about new work, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>SECRET SHOPPER program designed to enhance customer service and satisfaction </li></ul>
  21. 23. IN PROGRESS – cont’d <ul><li>LOBBY HOOK-UP to TWITTER and FACEBOOK </li></ul><ul><li>Having Director of Audience Services attend customer service workshops to keep up on most current trends in customer service. </li></ul>