At the Broadway League Conference: Day 1/Kids ‘R Theatergoers Too

One of the hippest long-term audience development initiatives the Broadway League came up with over the last few years was the establishment of a Kids Advisory Board.  The Board is made up of thirty kids, ages 11 – 16, from all over the country.  What do they have in common?  They love the Broadway!

By tapping the minds of these young avid influencers, the League is able to learn the simple answers to a host of questions that could help secure the health of the Broadway theater through Generation Z (aka The Net Generation), Generation Ai, and beyond.

At the first day of the Broadway League conference, the League put six of the members of the Advisory Board on a panel and grilled them about their theater habits, their friends’ habits, and more.

Here is a bullet point list of some things that I learned from our next generation of audiences, actors, and producers:

  • The entire panel said that it was their parents who suggested which shows to see.
  • 5 of the 6 panel members said that their #1 internet destination was Facebook.  The 6th member didn’t have a Facebook page, but she did have a blog.
  • 5 of the 6 panel members did NOT visit any theater websites (e.g.,, etc.).
  • All of the panel members said their parents paid for their tickets.  One piped up and said, “That’s what they’re for.”
  • All of the panel members preferred musicals.  Half of the panel said that music was important for keeping not only their attention, but the attention of their younger siblings who couldn’t sit still for too long without the excitement of a musical.
  • One panel member was a pretty regular playgoer, but she said she didn’t start seeing plays until she was 14.
  • All of the panel watched the Tonys, but said their friends didn’t.
  • When asked what the #1 thing they enjoyed about Broadway was, a survey of these 6 plus another 700 revealed that the “performers” were the most exciting part (translation – expect more star casting in the future).
  • One of them read reviews, but none of them let the reviews influence their decision either way.  As the only boy on the panel said, “It doesn’t matter what they [the reviewers] say.  What matters is your opinion.”

There’s a lyric in Bye Bye Birdie that goes something like, “Kids!  Who can understand anything they say?”

Well, we better start trying to understand what they say, because these kids, and the thousands of others around the country just like them, are the premium ticket buyers of tomorrow.

A giant lollipop to The League for letting us listen.

Stay tuned for Day #2 from The League Conference tomorrow!


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  • Will says:

    Are these kids meant to be a representative sample?

  • Rachel says:

    When the kids said “performers”, I don’t think they meant star names. I think they were referring to meeting the actors at the stage door and getting pictures and autographs.

  • I should have been more specific. The kids did clarify that they loved stars on Broadway, and specified that their friends would be more inclined to go (new audiences) if there were stars involved. Not revolutionary info, but still interesting.

  • How does one become a member of the Kids Advisory Board?

  • Tom Hoefner says:

    Last summer at Fringe, we were surprised to find (and we really shouldn’t have been) how enrapt kids from the ages of 7 to 14 and beyond stayed in “Race McCloud”, even at it’s 2+ hours running length. My point? Kids don’t need “music”, per se, to keep them engaged. There is just little else being put on a Broadway or Off-Broadway stage to engage them. There’s plenty of young-adult targeted theatre, there’s plenty of theatre for the thirty and older crowds, and there’s even a lot of children’s theatre… but theatre for those aged 9 to 14 is largely ignored (particularly boys of that age group), and that’s a mistake, because that’s when kids are deciding what they are going to love for the next fifty years. That’s part of the void we hope to fill with “Race McCloud”.

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