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Audience Demographics, Lesser Seductions

Saturday, March 13, 2010 Leave a Comment

After The Lesser Seductions of History closed, our Marketing Director Kelly O'Donnell created a power point presentation that broke down the demographics of the audience that attended. While her presentation featured some salty jokes regarding the process, not to mention some choice photos, perhaps discretion is the better part of valor here, and I will only share with you the salient statistics.

For The Lesser Seductions of History, we had:

644 total unique audience members (not counting repeat attendance)

of which
274 were first time attendees - 43%
276 had seen a Flux show previously - 46%

of which (there is some obvious overlap in these categories)
85 were family members of the cast or company - 13%
299 were friends or co-workers - 46%
38 were alumnae of past Flux full productions - 6%
93 had worked with Flux on a project other than a full production, + their guests - 15%
95 donors, + their guests - 15%
235 were involved in some way in the NYC theatre community - 36%
16 press, + guests - 2%
73 unidentified audience members

As you can see, a large part of our audience remains our friends, co-workers, family, and the larger NYC theatre community. On the one hand, this represents the traditional diagnosis of the limits of the indie theatre audience.

On the other, nearly half of our audience had previously seen a Flux show, which is a good sign. I was also excited to see that nearly half (38 out of 80) of our past show alumni attended Lesser Seductions; and we had a strong showing of donors and other collaborators. As Flux is trying to develop a creative home for our artists and audience, this show of support from our core circle is heartening.

This is especially important when looking at the number of audience members who came to us through online notices: 14 (that was a question posed online). Clearly, with almost no money to advertise, the need to empower that core of artists and audience to bring in new people is the key to sustainable growth.

One of the interesting ideas regarding audience development at this level of resources is the maxim that bigger cast size means bigger audience. Here is what our records show:

Lesser Seductions: (668/11) = 61 per actor
Pretty Theft: (597/8) = 75 per actor
Angel Eaters: (866/25) = 35 per actor
Midsummer: (715/18) = 40 per actor

As you can see, # of actors is related to audience size, but not in a completely quantifiable way. I'd be curious how this broke down for other companies.

In October of last year, Matthew Freeman called on theatres to release more data surrounding ticket sales, budgets, and more. I agree - I remember talking recently with another artistic director who said their company routinely played to a capacity of over 90% in a 99 seat house; and another who painted a very different picture of frustration with audience growth. Identifying what theatres at our resource level are growing audience successfully is the first step to identifying tactics to share and grow our field as a whole.

So, there's our two cents. Any other theatres want to ante in? I'd love to learn how others are doing, and how they're doing it.

(And speaking of breaking down statistics, Fractured Atlas has proved once again why they're awesome with this live map of their Membership. Really cool).


  • Matt A said:  

    I'd be interested to know the referring agent for the unidentified/public/non-related audience members. How many read a review? How many knew someone who saw the show early on in the run?

  • KellyO said:  

    We probably don't have the means to identify referring agents for LSH because we were only able to obtain absolute information from the 2 question questionnaire people are required to fill out when they buy a ticket online (1. how did you hear about the show? 2. is this your first Flux show?).

    We obtained most of our information by literally going down the list of audience members and identifying them based on our personal relationships with them and searching for their profiles on Facebook and finding mutual friends within Flux and the greater Flux network.

    Some people answer Question #1 as "from a friend" or "online" which is not specific enough. Perhaps if question #1 had a drop down menu of choices we could get more specific but then we run the risk of annoying people with our quiz.

    Or, for people who answer "yes" for question 2, maybe only they answer a new question 3 which says "if this is your first Flux production, how did you hear about us specifically?".

    Also, having a marketing/demographics rep at the box office would help. This person could hold a clip board and gently ask people how they heard about us, etc, as they are buying their ticket. Then the person dealing with ticket sales doesn't have to deal with this. Or we could provide a little questionnaire with a pencil like many companies do.

    Despite the generality of the questions we were able to identify referring agents for about 16 non-related ticket buyers from question 1 which was New York Magazine, Flavorpill and OffOffOnline to name a few. This was very helpful because it shows which free listings are generating ticket sales.

    thanks for bringing this up, Matt! Definitely something to think more about.