Updated NASAA Member Directory

Friday, August 7, 2009

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Did You Know?

Free Night of Theater Builds Future Audiences

A new study by Shugoll Research shows that Theatre Communications Group's Free Night of Theatre program is bringing new audiences to the theatre. Free Night of Theater began in 2005 in 3 cities and grew to more than 120 cities and 650 theatres in 2008. The goal of the program is to increase public awareness of the national theatre community and to attract new and nontraditional audiences by distributing free tickets during the month of October. While some theatres were concerned that giving away free tickets would not motivate people to buy tickets in the future, current research suggests this concern is unwarranted.

Major reasons for not attending more often:

  • ticket cost: 65%
  • concerned about spending money on something they might not like: 23%
  • too busy: 19%
  • hard to commit to attending in advance: 18%
  • do not hear about what is playing: 16%

People would be more likely to attend if the theatres:

  • Allow ticket purchaser to change dates when they have a conflict
  • Have information about current plays in a central location
  • Set aside tickets to sell the day of the event
  • Provide information about plays in advance

The results of the research suggest that Free Night of Theater increases theatregoing habits. Of those attending Free Night of Theater, 78% subsequently go to a theatre, including 42% of those who reported going to a theatre two times or fewer in the past year. Half of these returning audiences purchased either full price or subscription tickets, while the other half purchased discounted tickets. Interestingly, 34% say they go to the theatre more now than before the program, and nearly all of the respondents reported going because of the program.

Free Night of Theater also tries to encourage active theatregoers to try something new, such as a show they would not normally see or a theatre they do not normally attend. Research found that a significant number of participants reported that an important reason for attending Free Night of Theater was to try something new without worrying about getting their money's worth. Of those trying a new theatre, 34% have been back to the new theatre as a ticket purchaser since then, including 3% who purchased subscriptions to the theatre.

Find out more or view the full report or a press release.

If you would like to talk to a NASAA staff person about the information in this column, contact Shannah Sphar at shannah.sphar@nasaa-arts.org.