Chris Peterson / Editor in Chief Let be honest, after putting in weeks of rehearsal, the last thing you want to happen is walking out on stage and seeing a more than half empty house? For an actor, try as we might, it can be deflating and hurt your performance.
When audiences don't show up, the fault is always on the theatre company itself. It shows a lack of ability in publicizing their shows effectively.
So if your theatre company is suffering from low ticket sales and might even be on the brink of closing. Here are five ways to boost your attendance to the point where you might have to turn people away.
1. Fire Your Publicity/Marketing People
The harshest but most logical action to take is replacing those who just aren't getting the job done. The sole purpose of a publicity/marketing staff is to get butts in your seats, if that isn't happening, then these people either can't or worse, don't know how to raise interest in your productions. If this is a pattern with your theatre company, it's time to clean house.
Bringing in new people means bringing new ideas. They could have some wonderful resources and tools to spread the word and get people interested in your theatre. Getting rid of people is never a fun task, but if your theatre's future hangs in the balance, then you have to tear that band-aid off.
2. Promote Online Beyond Just Facebook & Twitter
Anyone who thinks that Facebook is only effective way of promoting your upcoming show is delusional. There are a ton of other ways to spread the word online about your show. Post videos to Youtube and Vimeo, post photos to Instagram. Create Tumblr and Google+ accounts. Don't hesitate to use the gold ol' Discussion Boards. There are even ways to market yourself on SnapChat. Stay on top of the social media landscape, especially if your theatre can attract younger audiences.
3. Putting Funding Towards Publicity
If you're relying on free publicity for your productions, your countdown to closing has begun. You have to spend money to make money. But there are affordable ways to do this. One way is if you have a Facebook page, you can "boost" your announcements to that they reach beyond those who have liked your page. There are a ton of other ways you can put money into social media, your own website, local publications, etc. But you have to set some funds aside of publicity. The good news is that all it takes is maybe 15-20 more audiences members and you've made that money back.
4. Rethink Your Seasons
It's very likely that the reason people aren't coming to see your shows, is because they have no interest seeing those shows. Poll your audience, ask what they typically come out to see. If it's well-known chestnuts or avant-garde, model your season around the interests of your audience. It's also never a bad idea to produce a show with children in it. Why? Because it's likely that not only will their families come to EVERY performance but also their extended families as well. Doing an Annie or a Sound of Music is not a bad idea. Also, try to do larger cast productions. The more in the cast, the more people who will come out to support them.
5. Do More Productions
More is More when it comes to theatre. If your company only does three shows a year, you're putting too much risk into your audiences sizes, By providing more opportunities for people to come see you by doing more performances, it's likely you'll have people show up more often. That doesn't mean they have all be full scale productions bu give your audience both quality and quantity.