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Building audiences vital to health of arts


Date: 7 April 2003

Building audiences vital to health of arts organisations

Creative New Zealand supports audience development projects

Projects by the Auckland Philharmonia, Capital E’s National Theatre for Children and Downstage Theatre, aimed at developing new audiences and learning more about existing audiences, have received funding of up to $12,000 each in a pilot audience development initiative by Creative New Zealand.

Auckland Philharmonia’s project aims to encourage more Asian audiences to attend its concerts while Downstage Theatre in Wellington will enhance its electronic marketing tool, EStage, and research its effectiveness. Capital E’s National Theatre for Children’s project is aimed at developing audiences for its touring shows in South Auckland and in the Rotorua region.

The projects were selected from 20 proposals presented to Creative New Zealand by the professional arts organisations it funds on a recurrent (i.e. one-year or three-year) basis. Chief Executive Elizabeth Kerr says the three projects stand out because they target important audience development issues for each organisation; have the potential to lever additional resources and build new partnerships; and could provide valuable information to the rest of the sector.

The audience development initiative was developed through Creative New Zealand’s Future Strengths strategy, which is aimed at strengthening New Zealand’s professional arts infrastructure.

“Developing audiences is vital for the long-term health of any professional arts organisation,” Miss Kerr says. “Through Future Strengths, we’ve been working with our recurrently funded organisations to strengthen their capability in a number of areas. This new initiative is about developing new audiences and learning more about existing audiences. Ultimately, this will lead to increased attendance figures and box-office revenue.”

Auckland Philharmonia:
The aim of this pilot project is to increase the number of Asians, initially Chinese, attending the orchestra’s concerts and to establish an ongoing relationship with this new audience. The project will culminate in the Royal & SunAlliance Series 2003 concert in July, featuring pianist Henry Wong Doe.

Anne Rodda, General Manager of the Auckland Philharmonia, says 14 out of every 100 Aucklanders are Asian - and the numbers continue to grow.
“The Asian community has become an established part of the ethnic mix in Auckland and I am excited that we are now in a position to further develop a relationship with this community,” she says. “I look forward to seeing many more Asians attending our concerts in the future.”

For Marketing Manager Arne Herrmann, the development of an Asian audience for the Auckland Philharmonia is a long-term endeavour and an integral part of its marketing strategy. “I see Creative New Zealand’s support for our proposal as a confirmation of the importance of this market for us and for other arts organisations in New Zealand.”

Capital E’s National Theatre for Children:
Last year, nearly 70,000 people throughout New Zealand attended performances by Capital E’s National Theatre for Children. Its project has two components. The first component aims to develop a new and potentially large market in South Auckland; the second aims to boost audiences in smaller communities by researching and developing a pilot community ambassador scheme in Rotorua.

“I’m delighted that Creative New Zealand has recognised our project to develop new audiences,” says John Gilberthorpe, Chief Executive Officer of the Wellington Museums Trust. “This is a vital role for us as a national theatre company.

“We’re excited about South Auckland, an area where we currently have little presence but where we see huge potential to deliver high-quality professional theatre to the children and families living there. Our research in this area will involve building strong relationships and working with the Manukau City Council.

“The Rotorua component is a pilot activity for our company and we hope it will also benefit other companies that tour nationally. Our goal is to develop a viable and effective model for building relationships and audiences in New Zealand communities.”

Downstage Theatre:
Downstage Theatre’s project will enhance its electronic marketing tool, Estage, with a software package customised for its needs by Synergy International.

Estage allows people to sign up online to receive Downstage’s electronic newsletter. People can control the amount and frequency of information they receive - something that today’s media-discerning public demands, says Murray Lynch, Director of Downstage Theatre.

“With Estage, they can choose the topics they want to hear about and specify the time period they wish to receive the newsletter,” he says.

The second part of the project will evaluate Estage’s effectiveness in developing audiences and strengthening customer relationships - two of Downstage’s key marketing goals.

“Downstage is committed to being responsive to our patrons’ needs,” Murray Lynch says. “With this assistance from Creative New Zealand, it means we can conduct an audience development scheme and also have the resources to thoroughly test its results.”


For further information:
Undine Marshfield Iona McNaughton
Media and Communications Adviser Writer/Editor
Creative New Zealand Creative New Zealand
Tel: 04-498 0725 Tel: 04-498 0715

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