South East venue network launches ‘Take Your Seats’

In response to a need from venues for more budget and resources to promote contemporary theatre and new writing following the pandemic and during the cost of living crisis, house – a South East venue network – has launched new initiative Take Your Seats. The initiative aims to engage local audiences with their theatres, and provides venues with a strong programme of shows along with the tools and resources to promote them.

‘The Rest of Our Lives’ courtesy of Sara Teresa.

House spoke to a number of venues in its network about their programming. They found that:

  • Of all the genres*, venues agreed that their most difficult sells were new writing and dance/physical theatre.
  • Whilst other genres have returned to a similar level of audience attendance as before the pandemic, audiences for new theatre are remain lower than pre-pandemic levels
  • Venues have less capacity to sell the shows, with more than half of venues spoken to saying they had a smaller communications team than before the pandemic

In spite of this, when asked what prevents them from programming more new theatre, the overwhelming answers was budget to promote them with none saying lack of demand. Half of those asked said they would like more time and help developing new audiences, and a third said they needed more or better resources from the shows.The initiative caters for the top three needs that venues said would best support their marketing efforts for new theatre: more budget, more time, and an external marketing campaign.

House has offered its network a ready-made programme of contemporary theatre: The Rest of Our Lives by Jo Fong and George Orange, Fatherhood by Altered Skin, and A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings by Collapsing Horse. To support them, house are providing:

  • a subsidised two-for-one ticket scheme
  • a broad regional marketing campaign aimed at encouraging audiences to try their local theatre
  • a robust pack of resources to promote the initiative and the shows

Jonathon Summers-Mileman said, “The Take Your Seats ticket scheme comes at a vital time for artists and theatres wanting to programme and tour the best new contemporary theatre productions and will be a significant incentive for audiences affected by the strains placed on the cost of living. Venues throughout the southeast support some of the most exciting artists to perform in their spaces and it is something that needs celebrating alongside their local audiences. It’s a great time for venues to be attracting new local audiences and house hopes to provide the extra capacity and support the local venues need through this campaign’s activity. We hope this scheme will remind audiences of what great community assets they have on their doorsteps and invite them to bring along someone who was unaware of the venue or the joys that live theatre can bring.”

house is a venue network and touring initiative based in the South East of England. It is delivered by Farnham Maltings, with support from Arts Council England, to improve the range, quality and scale of theatre presented across the region, and exists to develop audiences for contemporary theatre.

To find out more about Farnham Maltings, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop