I was asked to speak at the Arizona Presenters Alliance annual retreat yesterday and during one of my sessions, which I call, “Stump The Marketing Guy!” (I offer a $100 prize to anyone that can give me a problem that I can’t find at least one action-item solution for), I was asked what I would do to get more young people to the theater.
I offered some of my standard solutions like 1) create a “young patron’s circle” whose job it is to find more people like themselves, 2) offer young theatergoers a free ticket if they bring someone under 30 with them to a show, 3) program more entertainment geared for the 20-something crowd, etc.
The person who asked the question was a young one herself, so I asked her, “Why do you go to the theater?”
“I was exposed to it by my parents when I was young. I fell in love with it.”
Not coincidentally, that’s my story too. And it’s a lot of people’s stories who love theater . . . golf . . . fashion, whatever. Hook ‘em as a kid, and you might have ‘em for life.
So, while my above suggestions were potential quick fixes to their problem with the young’uns, I also gave them a bigger long term solution that I suggest for every single theater out there.
Every single regional theater should have shows just for kids at some point in their season, and as often as possible. I’m talking Cinderella, or Freckleface Strawberry or anything with Bears. The production values don’t have to be high. Kids don’t need falling chandeliers. And parents don’t care either, they just need something to do with their kids on a Saturday that doesn’t involve the television.
This is going to be some work, and some money as well (but not as much as you’d think), but the potential long-term benefits for your theater and for the theater in general are enormous. And you can put your interns on it, or partner with a local community theater, but make sure you have live theatrical entertainment for kids today, so that we have audiences for tomorrow.
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