Bated Breath, like most theatres, traditionally struggles to collect information about their audiences, so we embedded some simple survey questions within the auction registration process. This article shares our insights from the data about our 4 evening performances and one of our matinee performances, all of which were packed houses. (One matinee performance was for students from the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, but the students were delayed in arrival and we had to skip the registration portion of the play.)
We wanted to know whether our audience were regular supporters of our company or of the Museum, and we learned that most were new to Bated Breath and 40% were new to the Museum. And, critically, while some people traveled great distances to see the performance for a personal reason, two-thirds of the first time visitors to the Museum were Connecticut residents and therefore a part of the Museum’s target market.
We think this means – and the anecdotal audience comments back this up – that the matinee performances attracted theatre lovers and the museums’ most dedicated supporters, particularly those who were theatre lovers. This one public matinee performance introduced an audience with a deep passion for theatre to our unique brand of art and was received as a huge gift to the museum’s most dedicated supporters.
In sum, we found that when museums and theatre work together, they produce art engagement that is greater than what either can do alone. And we discovered powerful evidence that some of the subtle scheduling decisions can unlock even greater successes. We’re looking forward to applying some of these lessons to our next theatre collaboration with the museum world.