Ticketsolve gets used in some pretty unique ways. Falmouth University’s integration of Ticketsolve is no exception.
We spoke to James Randell, production assistant for the Academy of Music and Theatre Arts (AMATA) at Falmouth University, and learned how Ticketsolve is helping their students get real world experience on an industry leading box office solution.
Based in Cornwall, Falmouth University offers an extensive arts degree programme to over 4,500 students and is the Number 1 Arts University in the UK. AMATA or the Academy of Music and Theatre Arts, runs nine speciality undergraduate courses in: dance; acting; theatre and performance; technical theatre arts; music, theatre and entertainment management; creative events management; creative music technology; popular music; music and offers a masters programme in creative events management.
AMATA’s ultimate goal is to equip students with the necessary skills for their professional life in the arts.
AMATA: For the Student Body and the Cornwall Community
But AMATA provides much more. Besides their comprehensive degree programmes, AMATA showcases events and shows for general public audiences. These events include student run performances, but also, as James explained, touring performances.
“With only one other major venue in the area, AMATA’s public programming is just as important to the wider community as it is to our student population. We ensure that touring shows that might not otherwise make it to Cornwall – do.”
But being both public and academic, means AMATA faces a constant balancing act. The multi-use space (finished in 2010), provides space for public and student performances, as well as space for class lectures and workshops.
All told, the AMATA arts programme covers six dance, six theatre, and six music shows a year, plus workshop style shows, exhibitions, as well as events and activities that relate to those shows or are linked to student engagement. Shows run all year, though the concentration of work is presented from autumn to spring.
Bringing on Ticketsolve
Prior to Ticketsolve, AMATA’s management team was working with limited resources and limited time. Their approach approach to box office and ticketing was, as James noted, “not streamlined”.
For example, neither the students nor the public could book online, and season tickets were managed through physical paper. Payment for tickets had to be done through the university’s financial system. All of this translated into inefficiencies and lots of wasted time. Moreover, there was big disconnect between the experience of buying a ticket to an event, and actually attending the event.
Clearly, AMATA needed to create a better customer journey.
“It became very obvious that we needed a new box office system to help us as we ramped up the public facing part of AMATA’s work,” said James. “This was especially important as our programme developed further and our audience sizes grew.”
WANTED: Rich, Real World Experience for Students
Being able to start from scratch as such, also meant that AMATA could define specifically what they needed for their unique venue and situation.
Since AMATA’s public programme is already linked to course work, the next logical step was to integrate the box office. This had the dual advantage of allowing AMATA to capture much more data for audience development analysis, but also to give students real world event management experience.
During the procurement process James and his team found that many systems they looked at were:
- Cost prohibitive (license fees or per seat costs). Cost was extremely important, because AMATA needs to accommodate staff as well as students on the system.
- Not flexible enough to allow students unsupervised (e.g., no staff present) use of the system.
- Lacking control or freedom to use system as AMATA required.
Integrating Ticketsolve into Student Learning
Ticketsolve was implemented at AMATA in autumn 2015. The first stages of the implementation focused solely on AMATA staff learning how to use the system. In tandem, James worked to create lectures and training for students as part of their live event management course work.
At AMATA, 2nd and 3rd year students (focused on creative management) are required to develop a series of live events; one major one and several smaller shows. As part of this coursework, AMATA trains students on box office management, including using Ticketsolve, an industry leading box office platform.
“By integrating Ticketsolve into the live event module, students get hands on experience working with an industry standard box office system. They are able to really see what a professional box office system can do for their management of an event.”
Students are given training workshops and lectures on how to use the system, after which they are then encouraged to use the system unsupervised. Students can access AMATA’s online learning platform if they to refresh themselves on any aspect of the system.
Why a Professional System?
Using Ticketsolve for their event management projects gives students the opportunity to really think about sales, marketing and audience development for their events.
Interestingly, James explained how pricing of their events also impacted students learning.
“We instituted a minimum £5 price for all tickets. In the past students would grossly underprice tickets, leading to budgets getting completely blown. With the minimum ticket price (and no booking fee), students learn how they need to create value perception of their work (and not kill their budget). This perception of value is important not only for themselves, but even more so, for their audiences.”
In addition to learning how to use the system, James also presents lectures on the procurement process, as well as the implementation process. This aspect of the lectures is an excellent way to help students really understand how to evaluate systems they may encounter at various arts organisations during their careers.
Using Ticketsolve also, gives students a much more in-depth look at how various functions loop together to run an entire venue, from front of house teams to box office.
“In end, students leave university with real world transferrable skills on an industry standard box office system. They have a picture as to how a system like Ticketsolve needs to be procured and implemented. We are setting then up to be able to hit the ground running in their careers.”
Where to Next? Analysing and Interpreting Data.
Ticketsolve is now integrated with Audience Finder. This is important for AMATA, because the reporting tools within Ticketsolve are great, but AMATA’s location make it a slightly unique cultural landscape. With only one other large scale venue and many small and rural venues, not very many venues are set up like AMATA. Being able to see the landscape broadly will be helpful in audience building.
In addition, AMATA is now looking at how Ticketsolve can be brought offline and help deliver off site events.
To see more of AMATA and their student led events, check out Stitch (click the thumbnail below) their student led, managed and run fashion event.