As I write this, an Arts Queensland sponsored tech forum 'LowFi' is just finishing up in Brisbane. I was due to attend what was planned as a day-long gathering of speakers, workshops and quick conversations on digital media and its application in the arts. I couldn't make it so I've been following the proceedings today via hashtag on Twitter. Some of the tweets sang the social-media mantra re developing relationships with 'customers,' and not just using social media as a marketing add-on. Yes, of course, but the strategies and the actual daily process of using social media for marketing - for getting the word out and engaging with potential and current audience members - are still being discovered and developed. In a time when arts coverage appears to be receiving less coverage in 'big media' there is both challenge and opportunity for individual theatre companies to change the landscape of the wider media modus operandi. (The embedded tweets below are from today's LowFi twitter stream)
#lowfi it's not just about digital marketing guys!
At a gathering of pre-show theatre barflies downstairs from !MetroArts in Verve Café (in the dark corner up the end) the conversation turned last Saturday night to the local buzz - barflies are good at buzz. One fly was heard to say how exciting it all was - that very night audiences would be able to see a couple of shows back to back if they chose to, and wouldn't more late-night theatre in the city in small, welcoming venues be a thrill? Another opined that Brisbane was a get up and go to bed early town so, maybe not. Another was quite hopeful but felt that it would take time for people to get used to the idea. It was all about building audiences - that's the challenge - all agreed. Of course, the barflies buzzed on about other things like the quality of the work being seen around the city, and so on. It was time for the first show, and then the second, but then ... Continue reading Dear Brisbane Theatre … Who’s the media?
The ongoing discussion around the labels professional and amateur, independent, pro-am etc. continues elsewhere and will, undoubtedly, go on. I've written elsewhere on this issue - here and here. Last week I noticed that Katherine Lyall-Watson revived the discussion in a post called 'Pro vs Am' on OurBrisbane.com. Along with a couple of others, I had my 2c worth in the discussion which has since petered out - for the time being. You can be certain it will return.
I also noticed from the latest MEAA Equity bulletin that A Catch of the Breath by Robert Thwaites currently playing at !Metro Arts is the first to utilise the new Equity Showcase Agreement. I was intrigued to see what these terms and conditions comprise, so I got in touch with MEAA - the Agreement isn't on the web yet - and they very quickly sent through a copy.
It's an interesting document, and one which may sort out some of the disgruntlement over labelling, maybe set to rest the 'taint' of amateurism which can linger around productions not covered by MEAA awards, but which use the talents of professional artists. More importantly, it provides a way to protect its independent members from exploitation. Should there be any disputes arising from the Equity Showcase Agreement, all parties have to agree, on signing, that MEAA will mediate. Continue reading MEAA Showcase Agreement: breakthrough?
It's return on engagement and not return on investment that Devon Smith's research shows is possibly the best way of considering social media and its current use by theatres in the United States. I'm betting it's much the same here.
Building audiences - which for many marketing managers equates to selling tickets - is really a mid to long-term strategy, and that's about building relationships - building loyalty and long-term engagement between the organisation and individuals (near and far). And for those hungry marketing managers/producers, Smith notes that you are going to sell tickets at your website, and it's social media will assist in driving the traffic there.
Theatres in Brisbane and some further afield in regional Queensland are getting the social media message, albeit slowly. Their websites invite visitors to follow via their Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and YouTube channels - to name the big three in social media. Few yet have gone the way of the blog, which is a pity, as it's a great way for a company to engage in conversation. As Smith says in this smart slide presentation (below) given this week at the TCG (Theatre Communications Group) Conference in the US, a company blog linked to your website is a surefire way of managing conversation, whether or not they are saying good or bad things about you. She notes that, of course, they will say bad things anyway, so why not manage it at a central point. It's archived too when it's on your own site.
Check the last couple of slides for further resources on social media and theatre.
And here's Leon Cain who is currently in rehearsal for La Boite Theatre's next production I Love You Bro'! Leon will be posting an entry in the company's YouTube Channel every day - this is the first. Given the ubiquity of YouTube - again see Smith's facts and figures in the slide show - this is a clever strategy to engage with potential audiences and to spread the word about just what does go on backstage. And, of course, the video blog (aka vlog) is another, perhaps even more engaging and personal way of managing the conversation. Good job La Boite!
I've known Sven Swenson and admired his work since 1996, the year his first play Vertigo and the Virginia workshopped for Queensland Theatre Company. Since then Sven's completed 15 plays, but he notes there are 33 others "in various stages of disrepair." His latest work, The Bitterling premieres next week as the opening production of the inaugural La Boite Indie program; 'opening' and 'inaugural' - a lot of firsts, and a lot of expectations. He's writer and director.
He tells me, "We know we are the indie guinea-pigs, we're all keenly aware of this. There is constant dialogue between the participants and La Boite, who are extremely supportive and available. They have a genuine and profound desire to see good indie theatre develop." He goes on, "There's a real air of excitement right now, and it's helping us to create at our best."
I'm glad to catch up with Sven, one of Brisbane's most prolific and also proudly parochial writers. I want to know more about the inaugural winner (2002) for Road to the She Devil's Salon and then finalist (2008) of the prestigious Queensland Premier's Drama Award. His play Beautiful Souls was produced Off-Broadway (2007) and also in Los Angeles. Among other things we talk about beginnings, influences, how he works, and the local theatre scene. He has a few surprises for me along the way. Continue reading Conversation with the audience: Sven Swenson (Interview 4)
The big wet continues in the south-east and west of the state. Wonder how, if at all, this has affected box-office figures for companies.
There's one week to go for Hamlet for La Boite and The Little Dog Laughed for Queensland Theatre Company; both close on Saturday. Avenue Q at QPAC has had an extension to its season.
Click the date on Greenroom's home page calendar to go to more details on each event.
Opening:Flicking the Flint by Kate Lee !Metro Arts Independents (Brisbane) - Tuesday
Macbeth by William Shakespeare Jute Theatre (Cairns) - Thursday
Continuing:Avenue Qthe Australian touring productionat QPAC(Brisbane)Hamlet by William Shakespeare dir David Berthold at the Roundhouse (Brisbane) Check the updated Greenroom reviews index.
The Little Dog Laughed by Douglas Carter Beane dir Michael Gow at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC Check the updated Greenroom reviews index.
Other:Staging Lives: in conversation with Michael Gow, Will Eno, and David Williamson. State Library of Queensland - Tuesday.
See QSE’s training program which continues throughout the month (Brisbane)
It's QPAC's 25th Birthday this year. While you're on the South Bank in Brisbane head into the Tony Gould Gallery for the QPAC 25 Exhibition.
... and check out the recently-opened Edge space further upstream - near the fabulous GOMA.
Happy New Year! It's great to be back after a wind-down, laid-back festivus season. Not that some of our colleagues have been slumming it: Shake and Stir and Circa, Harvest Rain, OzFrank and QSE are all at it during the nominal summer break with workshops as well as rehearsals for Season 2010.
Apart from the start of midsummer, today is also the beginning of the 5th month of operations for Greenroom. We launched on September 1 with the intention of providing an aggregator site for Queensland professional and independent theatre, and so far things are looking just fine. Since the launch we've had 2 744 hits on the site - not bad for a startup.
We've added 40 posts during this time, mostly interviews and commentary, with weekly posts pointing to productions and other theatre events throughout the state. We've got a 'poster wall' of Queensland theatre companies with hotlinks back to their individual homepages. This is a really useful service in our opinion, and helps to give a little bit of link love and profiling to groups around the state.
We've also got a lively Twitter stream with 55 followers. Follow Greenroom on Twitter - click the follow button up there on the right - and you'll get an update tweet every time there's a new post here; that's the way a lot of people like to get their news whether on the desktop or the mobile. We love photos, so we set up a Flickr group featuring Queensland theatre-related images; send yours in and share with other readers - that's them on the top of the home page.
There's also an RSS feed of the latest local 'proudly parochial' blog posts over there on the right, as well as a News Bites page via Google Reader with the most interesting and useful theatre and arts business posts from all over the world. And there's a hotlinked calendar of current and upcoming theatre events. Plan on seeing a continuation of these features as well as some new goodies including more reviews, and a weekly opt-in email newsletter for those who like getting their information via the emailbox.
We would love to hear from you on how we can make Greenroom work even better for you and your group. Don't forget to send in your information, logos, images and other information for us to use here. Meanwhile best wishes for sweet, midsummer nights' dreams and a wonderful season 2010 for you.