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November 2011
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Connecting to your stars - audience engagement

What is the modern equivalent of the famous visiting-star photo wall in the theatrical local drinking establishment?

It has struck me that audience development dialogue rarely mentions the personalities who visit their venues and a continuing interest of what becomes of them. Is this not the gift of social connection inherent to social media, maintaining connections. Do you think of making social connections to follow visiting companies and the company members? Actors now have a community connection opportunity with each other after companies part ways like never before.

I envy the current touring community with in the entertainment industry for this digital connectivity. Sadly I'm not sure how much they are able to make use of it to it full potential. The reality is that inside the performance world of the industry there is not a strong IT savvy community. Generally if you are successful your IT skills are weak. Unless you have a technology leaning computers are a bit of a mystery. Smart phones have opened a new world of communication. That a large proportion are excellent at, communication and reflected self expression. A world of potential. The fragmented duel personality segmentation of private and public, personal and professional, the digital world demand we negotiate is familiar ground and executed with exquisite ease by the best actors working in theatre.

This is especially true of actors who work in independant theatre. By Independant I mean organisations using the Independant Theatre Council contract or should be if they of a certain size. It includes theatre-in-education companies, rural, small and mid scale touring.

What is this opportunity for art centres with performance spaces?
What promotional opportunities does this present to the theatre companies?
What opportunities does this provide actors?

Celebrity is so remote. It is distant admiration with little possibility of reciprocation. The companies booked to fill a schedule bring with them talented performers, each has a story each is on a journey perusing their chosen career as a working actor. They have a personal and professional outlook. It may not be well defined online so be respectful. Social media is about people not marketing strategy. You need a strategy to layout objectives and establish achievements but for social media content you need stories and the development of stories to maintain engagement.

While I toured, especially to art centres and village halls the organiser often welcomed back actors who had visited on previous occasions with other theatre companies. They are your celebrities. It's not only about being on 'telly', actors emerging on broadcast media have begun a career either in theatre or low budget films. A theatre company returning to a venue with a new production may contain established cast members but many actors will move on and explore artistic avenues.

Whether you develop a rappor with returning actors or follow others as they climb their career ladders it's an opportunity that can sustain a social media community, the (your) audience. You are their connection to the stars.

Indirectly you will benefit working actors you connect with connecting them to the people they perform for. It's a link I think is lacking at present from my observation with audience development professionals.

They are your venues' flesh and blood attraction.

Connecting to your stars - audience engagement

Connecting to your stars - audience engagement

Nottingham is twinned with Ghent

When I first mentioned in my Twitter stream that I was traveling to Ghent for Audiences Europe's New Technologies for New Audiences quite a few of my network responded to tell me what a beautiful city it was. That shouldn't have seemed unusual however there did seem to be a lot of business connections to the Belgian city. I discovered that Nottingham is twinned with Ghent.

"Nottingham is twinned with four cities around the world. Ghent was twinned with Nottingham in 1985. Ghent is a city in the North East of Belgium, between Brussels and the North Sea. Its population is around 244,000 people. Local football teams from around Nottingham regularly play in tournaments in Ghent."

"Modern Ghent has a thriving digital economy and Nottingham has links with the Digipolis organisation which leads on the city's ICT strategies."

Connecting globally is an important as local engagement. The cultures which divide us can inform and educate us making diversity integral to ethical thinking. Working with Audiences Europe the necessity to understand what motivates a participatory customer base for cultural reward seems to be the objective of members. The emergence of social media, social networking and mobile technologies to make cultural participation richer beyond the activity of attendance is a great tool. Audience development marketing specialists are asking questions and learning how to reach and maintain connections with their audiences.

Audiences Europe has it's own social network called AEN Audiences Europe Network. A small team use this network to collate resources and develop knowledge for the profession is in it's infancy. With EU funding it is running off line events to encourage audience development agencies and their staff from across Europe to come together and share findings.

Audiences Europe Network

Nottingham is twinned with Ghent

When a star dies... How can the show go on?

Yes the adage holds true "the show must go on". To make that happen props, costume and setting are as vital as lights, camera and action. Today I headed up to Derby Road. So many small pieces of theatre set dressing and costume accessories were sourced from TopHat and the numerous bric a brac stops that lined the street. Steep Hill in Lincoln is a joy of secondhand books so Derby Road was to dressing prop acquisitions. Devastated it's all gone.
In February next year I'm running a workshop looking at how social media is influencing the role and function of Stage Managers at the SMA Stage Management Association's first annual conference.
My thinking is starting here. As an old landscape disappears the role of the Web is both a social and professional lifeline in these modern times. Explore and discuss.

When a star dies... How can the show go on?

From a PCM point of view. Where are you coming from?

During October and November I've been working with Audiences Europe to develop their online network and social media presence. In October Audiences Central a UK audience development agency help a symposium entitled JOLT - Shake up your thinking. Last week Dec 6th and 7th the Audiences Europe partner members at CultuurNet Vlaanderen held thier congress entitles New Technologies for New Audiences.

I am continually engaged by the Audiences Europe drive. As a theatre professional my expereince is from behind the scenes and now I am taking a fresh look at what it is to be 'in' the audiences. How does an audience know what's going on and where? In this sector the main measure of ROI (return on investment) is whether the audience turn up and buy tickets.

The flow of this short video is to take you through the event from an 'on the ground' perspective. It's not an extensive overview but an isight to the event as it took place. 

A microsite solution for your events - Twoppy

When is an app not an app? When its a mobile optimised dedicated miro-site. Twoppy sits perfectly on most web enabled mobile devises. No multi-platform designing necessary just a few more steps to install than the one click 'install' command app store users are familiar with.

twoppy® was founded in 2009 and is based in Leusden en Leiden, The Netherlands. With every event you organise the possibility to offer an easy to use and affordable mobile event guide is a reality. twoppy® can be used for festivals, exhibitions, conferences, amusement parks, zoos, sporting events and more... check out the Twoppy "Dream Team"

The New Technologies for New Audiences has a Twoppy event guide. The Audience or attending delegates use the event guides for free, to modify the branding as CultuurNet Flanders has done requires a basic upgrade at a cost of £152.27 for a year. The intention of this post is to get the New Technologies for New Audiences event guide on to your devise for you to get great added value when you attend next week's events. The method my vary from devise to devise. These screenshots are from an iPhone.

This is the event guide once installed.

ETM_ghent twoppy 1Program: Lists the programmed sessions scheduled with date and times. When multiple sessions are taking place at one time the event guide enabled you to indicate 'wanna go' and builds a personal itinerary for you. Brilliant!

Speakers: Tells you who is speaking, what session they are presenting and the 'wanna go' button adds the session to your personal itinerary.

Map: Plots on a local map of the event area the venue, hotels and near by establishment the organiser wants to hi-light.

Wanna Go: This is where your personal session schedule is created and stored for a quick glace showing only the sessions you selected to attend.

Information: Everything you need to know about the event itself.

Visitors: Who is attending which sessions and doubles as a checkin service to indicate who was there.

Tweets: All the hash-tagged tweets without having to go to twitter or even have a twitter account.

Partners: Who has made the event possible? Who has supported the project? Local organisation or businesses with special offers to delegates. This is an acknowledgements board.

Here is how.

Open your mobile devise's browser and enter the URL but don't follow the instructions immediately.

Scroll down the list without cancelling the pop up box and tap the New Technologies for New Audiences event icon before carrying out the instructions starting by tapping the button indicated and 'Add to Home Screen'

ETM_ghent twoppy 3
Next you add the text to appear beneath the icon when it appears as the app on your devise. Tap return!

ETM_ghent twoppy 6

Locate the icon on your devise. Explore the Event Guide enjoy the New Technologies for Audience event. If you are in Ghent find me, tweet. If you are unable to attend join me on the live-stream, there is direct chat on the livestream viewer and there will be a chat room running on the Audiences Europe Network.

ETM_ghent twoppy 1