Bacon Theatre: Vibrant Events in a Unique Venue

Bacon Theatre is a medium-scale venue on the site of Dean Close School, Cheltenham, providing a teaching and leisure resource for the school. In addition the theatre is available to hire for local community groups and providing a full programme of professional events. As a school based theatre, Bacon faces some unique challenges. We chatted with Bacon Theatre about their move to Ticketsolve.

What prompted you to review your ticketing solution? 

We felt our previous system was outdated and inefficient, and our online booking facility was ridiculously expensive. We needed a way to offer a modern, online booking facility to our customers at a reasonable cost to us. As a professional venue running in conjunction with the school calendar, meant we needed a fully functioning, modern system – at an affordable cost with no minimum ticket sales imposed.

What features attracted you to Ticketsolve?

Our first impression was how current and user friendly the interface was, providing all the functionality we needed, as with other professional box office systems, without the fee guarantee. We could comfortably recoup our costs via reasonable booking fees to our customers.

What features/elements have you found to be particularly beneficial – specifically as a school based theatre?

As a school based venue, the ability to provide an occasional online box office facility to the school with no extra charge to us is a huge asset.  The Ticketsolve system works efficiently and effectively and our customers are, very impressed. We are also able to analyse data a lot more accurately and, thus, make our target marketing more immediate.  Equally, there is no need to manage our e-marketing mailing list because it is already integrated into the Ticketsolve database. We are also extremely happy with the selected e-marketing with MailChimp.

How has working with Ticketsolve impacted on your overall sales?

Since April 2013 our online sales have increased.  August 2013 our online sales were 42% and in August 2014 these had increased to 53%.

Final Thoughts?

I couldn’t recommend Ticketsolve to other venues enough, especially school venues whose event calendars are likely to be more sporadic. They can experience the same quality ticketing solution and yet not be financially penalised by a the need for a monthly guaranteed fee.  It’s affordable, accessible and raises the quality of the booking experience for our customers, as well as our internal clients within the school. I would be happy to speak to other school venues considering Ticketsolve as a future investible product.

 

 

 

 

Best Wishes to Waterford’s Red Kettle Theatre Company

The Irish Times Culture section ran an article today about the demise of Waterford’s Red Kettle Theatre Company. The company goes into liquidation after 30 years on the go due to trading difficulties.

The Irish Times reported that while the company has toured throughout Europe, it has been mainly performing in Ireland for the last while. While the theatre has not made a public statement about the details of the liquidation one thing for sure is that a lack of funding has not helped.

From the Irish Times:

“As with many other arts ventures, its funding declined in recent years. The Arts Council gave €226,000 to Red Kettle in 2008 and this was down to €145,595 by last year. The latter amount was to fund youth projects and a tour by the company’s last major production.”

Funding is vital to every theatre. But especially those theatres outside of big cities. Those regional theatres, rely on funding to provide cultural activities and entertainment that are vital for communities throughout Ireland.

We extend our best wishes to Red Kettle.

Arts Council England and NPO Funding

Arts Council England (ACE) announced this morning which arts organisations will be funded as part of NPO and those that will not. It is a tough bag to hold for certain, and not an envious position in the least, especially with the limited funds available and the amazing and deserving organisations.

On the back of the funding announcements today, John Tusa author of Pain in the Arts wrote for The Guardian Here is What a Wise Arts Policy Might Look Like.

His piece is very well written, we’ve summarised it so forgive us for being very, very brief here.

  1. Arts budgets should not be linked to national prosperity. They ought to be ring fenced and protected.
  2. Forget about the calls for “value for money” regards the arts. So many studies have proven the multi-pronged impact that arts has on communities, and people. (From Mr. Tusa: letter to the Guardian in June 2013 from 20 economists from John Maynard Keynes’ Political Economy Club. They grossed up the sums attributable to the creative economy and tourism at 16% of the national economy and concluded: “These are the most obvious multiplier benefits of the arts to the economy.”)
  3. Government arts spending is 0.5%. This is a tiny amount, so why the microscope? Why the constant need for micromanaging arts organisations, when they prove they are efficient and provide benefits? It is akin to companies going on cost cutting measures and taking away all the morale boosting initiatives – turns out to be a really bad idea in the long run.
  4. Understand what the arts really are – it isn’t just about London. To truly understand arts impact, we need to look to the wider national framework and leave behind the “prejudices of London” behind.
  5. Embrace and own the English arts funding model (the mix of box office, donors, public funding). The American model is not necessarily better or going to work here.

The underlying issue that Mr. Tusa raises is about trust. Trust that arts organisations know what they are doing. Trust that they are delivering “value”. Trust that they are delivering benefits to their communities. And trust that they are running efficiently. There are plenty of studies that met this out.

After all if arts organisations are not achieving, their patrons will certainly let them know.

We know that not everyone in the arts community got what they needed from today’s funding announcement, and for that we are gutted for you. For those that got funding today – congratulations!

Here’s to smarter thinking about arts policy and funding for the future.

Live Streaming Shows: Opportunity for New Revenue Stream?

I would admit to being a bit of a purist when it comes to streamed live events. I absolutely love going to live events. Theatre, circus, comedy, festivals, events, sports, exhibitions, music, cinema – you name it. There is a real rush when the curtain goes up, when I pass the ticket gates, or the first strains of music start. Maybe it is because I have been on stage (a long, long lifetime ago), but there is something about the act of seeing something live – in the present moment.

So, live streaming left me with a “meh” feeling if I am being honest. Consider the positives for a moment.

1. Streamed theatre and events have the benefit of reaching a global audience. It has the added benefit of allowing for subtitles if your show takes off in say, Japan.

2. Streaming means you can offer another level of ticket prices, giving greater access to people who may not otherwise attend your shows.

3. It is a great way to archive shows.

4. There are a lot of avenues for audience engagement, increasing social media reach and building a new loyal audience.

Live streaming or digitally accessed shows can be an additional, valuable revenue stream. Some argue that digital shows, encourage people to attend live shows. For example, schoolchildren who may not otherwise get to live theatre, can get a taste of live theatre through digital media.

But (there is always a ‘but’), the risks:

1. Digital shows will kill live shows. As patrons start watching streamed events, live audiences dwindle. This might become especially true with regional shows.

2. Funding gets funnelled to digital media, from live productions.

3. Watching live streamed theatre may not actually encourage patrons to attend live events. They may end up opting for streamed shows rather than live.

Will digital media kill live shows? I don’t think we can really know. Seeing a live show is an entirely different experience to digital. While I think we should certainly be careful about streaming’s impact (especially on regional venues), I think being afraid of streaming is not practical either. All audiences are different, and tastes and desires change. Ultimately, technology is a tool – a powerful tool – that we can use in arts, culture and sports – as we need.

Have I seen a live streamed show? No. Would I go and see one? Probably. But I will continue to go and see live theatre and live shows as much as I can. What about you?

Do you live stream shows? Have you used Ticketsolve to sell live streamed show tickets?

 

 

 

 

Using Technology in Arts Fundraising

The Guardian Culture Professional had a great article this week about arts fundraising. You can read the whole article here. In it, Kate Romano outlines her experience raising funds for the opera Tokaido Road, opening at the Cheltenham Festival on Sunday 6 July 2014. Her top 5 tips included:

1. Consider fundraising a creative act – fundraising is essential to the development of the project, and can even help frame the project, and tighten it up.

2. Don’t fear the pros – be focused and passionate about what you are trying to achieve.

3. Don’t be vague – be precise and if you can, put the work into empirical context.

4. Social media – follow and be followed. Social media is a key tool for arts fundraising.

5. Setbacks don’t have to be failures – from the article,” I had many setbacks: 62 corporate letters, no replies; 5 unsuccessful applications. But I learned things that don’t work out as planned can often take a project in a new and surprising direction”.

I liked that she saw fundraising as a journey in itself. The journey she was describing was clearly about the larger scale corporate donations, grants and trusts. It got me thinking about the role of technology in arts fundraising. I was curious about how much technology helped or hindered her fundraising for the opera she was involved with (it raised an impressive £20K) – on both the larger scale fundraising efforts and smaller donations.

A 2011 study from the Pew Charitable Trusts in America noted that 65% of organisations believed technology was “very important” for fundraising (81% for promoting arts, and 78% for audience engagement).  Interesting stats, but have things moved on in three years? Organisations like Culture Hive and Donor Finder are great assets in linking technology and fundraising, as are crowdfunding sites like Indigogo – especially on the smaller donation level.

Technology as an enabler for fundraising seems to be the future. Imagine mobile scanning at the door, where a patron could give a donation at the door via their mobile phone? Ms. Romano’s first point is dead on: consider fundraising a creative art – and use technology to enable it.

What have your experiences been with using technology and fundraising? Have you tried using Ticketsolve’s fundraising tool? Need help or a demo to see it in action? Contact us.

 

My Theatre Matters!

Local and regional theatres have an important role in our communities. Read The Guardian blog post “Why Regional Theatre is Something to Be Proud of,” for a taste of why. But even still, the national arts budget keeps dwindling. Since 2010 the national arts budget has been cut by over 30% and in some areas — Westminster and Somerset — arts funding by the Councils has been cut by 100%. Just think on that – their arts budgets have completely evaporated. These cuts are the single biggest threat to the arts industry – and it is happening across the country.

In March 2013, My Theatre Matters! launched a nationwide campaign aimed at galvanising public support for local theatres across the UK in response to extreme pressures on local government funding.

Led jointly by Equity, The Stage and the Theatrical Management Association (TMA), My Theatre Matters! gives local audiences a chance to voice their support for their local venue and to encourage politicians to do the same. It features a website – www.mytheatrematters.com – where audiences can sign up and be kept informed on action they might take. Audiences can also follow the campaign via twitter @theatre_matters #mytheatrematters.

To date, the campaign has attracted thousands of supporters and over 130 theatres.

Janet Morris, an audience member who volunteered to be a campaign associate, explains why she felt it was important to get actively involved. “I am a theatre enthusiast, but I have no professional or even amateur connection to the theatre. When I heard about the campaign, I asked myself and others “Does our theatre matter?” And the more I asked the question, the more it was apparent that our theatres matter hugely – not just to individuals but to communities, large and small, around the country. My Theatre Matters! suggests simple steps we can all take to get that message across where it can make a difference. I’d encourage anyone who cares about local theatre to sign up on the website and take whatever action they feel able to take. The more of us who act, the more likely we will have an impact on ensuring our local theatres survive and thrive.”

I don’t envy local authorities having to balance budgeting concerns right now. They are facing extremely tough choices. Some local authorities have warned that by 2018 they will not be able to meet statutory duties, let alone discretionary ones such as arts. Still, they need to know that the arts are a public service and central to community development. Arts funding should not be seen as an easy target for cuts.

Several Ticketsolve customers have joined the effort including Trinity Theatre, in Tunbridge Wells. Artistic Director, John Martin explained why they got involved with the campaign, “My Theatre Matters! is important to us as it gives our audience a voice, and an opportunity to remind our councilors and local politicians that we are valued and important to them. In a time of increased pressure on funding this is vital if we are to get the right message across and secure our future”.

Want to mobilise your audience? Visit, MY THEATRE MATTERS! to add your support and find out what you can do.