Starting Your Audience Development Process After a Festival Season

Congratulations to all those participants of the 2016 Melbourne Fringe Festival.  It was a wonderful 17 days of wonderful magic, compelling storytelling, engaging interactive experiences and laugh-out-loud exchanges.

Like any festival ending, I suspect many participants are asking themselves, ‘what next?’  Now is a perfect time to switch your focus from marketing to audience development.  Grab a notebook and following these three simple and achievable actions to or maintain your audience development process

CELEBRATE

Congratulate yourself!  Pat yourself on the back, or give yourself a big bear hug recognising all you have achieved throughout your festival experience!  Most importantly, it is important to give yourself credit for committing to sharing your gift with the world.  It is a brave step towards a successful career in the arts!  Remember that you have worked long hours throughout the creative development phase perfecting the narrative of your event, spent countless hours adjusting your project within a new space provided by festival organisers, spent another set of countless hours watching and analysing the audiences’ experiences.  No matter what the numbers show (financially or tickets sold) your hard work should certainly be acknowledged.

SUSTAIN YOUR FESTIVAL FRIENDSHIPS

All festival participants are feeling and experiencing the same emotions and thoughts: exhausted, elated and buzzing with ideas for their future.  It is important to keep in touch with these individuals because you share a strong bond.  Organise a group coffee catch-up within three days after your last performance or event with participants of other shows within your venue space.  Share and ask the following questions within the group: how was your festival experience?  What is your creative next step?  What other festivals might you be participating in this year?  Sharing these answers will keep your dreams buzzing close in your mind and excite the flow of your artistic ideas.  Don’t forget to exchange numbers and email addresses to keep in touch for long-term relationship growth.

 READ THE REVIEWS

Some artists restrain themselves from reading reviews until after the conclusion of their event run.  I believe this superstitious act protects the artist from affecting their performance or event flow to cater to a few subjective opinions.  However, reading reviews now is a great next step in the creative development process.  Reviews from any source (either from online sites or print publications) provide context clues to the audience experience.  As you read, ask yourself if your creative goals were clear and understood.  Did any technical elements (sound or lighting) enhance the experience?  Were there any specific moments throughout the narrative mentioned by the reviewer?  Record any specific phrases or adjectives used in the reviews that say something about your event.  The positive words or phrases can be stored and used in future marketing materials; record the negative remarks in your project notebook to revisit in the rehearsal room in the near future.  And always remember: reviews are subjective and NEVER personal.