Rebels @ Malthouse Theatre 2017

2017 is the year of the rebel at the Malthouse Theatre this year with some notable productions.

In the last few days John Hurt, who played the lead in the 80s movie Elephant Man died and this years production The Real & Imagined History of the Elephant Man explores this story as it travels through ‘hospitals, circus’ and every day life.

King Noble’s You’re not Alone explores loneliness through performance and ‘guerrilla’ video.

And what could create more of a time bomb in China that spoilt and  overburdened children resulting from the single child policy. Lachlan Phillpot’s Little Emperors explores this situation with comedy and pathos of this situation.

Sydney Theatre Company Season 2017

The 2017 season is described as ‘smart, fun & …controversial’, and also harks back to the best of 80’s theatre.

Away will be a revisit for some, a popular HSC text, so those seeing it can bring to life those school studies in an engaging manner. Gow’s text allows for a myriad of interpretations, so this one is should be a delight.

Likewise, Popular Mechanicals was a laugh a minute for those who love some Shakespearean slapstick. The original Belvoir production had one of the best farting scenes in Sydney theatre, and you’ve got to love a good fart joke. A great production for all the family.

Another gem is Caryl Churchill’s Cloud 9 with humour, sexuality and obscene language this play from the late seventies is sure to confront the contemporary audience as it explores colonialism .

Yes, smart, fun and controversial are the words to describe STC’s 2017 season.

Rick Antonson: Cathedral Thinking

Rick Antonson

Marketing Summit Rick Antonson

Notes from the Arts Marketing Summit 2015. Audiences: Marketing Summit: Yours, Mine and Our. The Summit which was held in Cairns, Australia on June 1 & 2

These notes were made by Michael McCallum during the event.

Rick Antonson was the first keynote speaker.

This talk basically focused around long term vision, planning and action.

Rick made the point big things don’t happen overnight, and it might take along time to complete the vision. It may take generations, like some of the world great cathedrals.

His formula is

  1. Give the though a name then articulate your vision. It needs to be accepted by others to grow.
  2. Position your idea: Look for partners not competitors
  3. Commuicate your idea. You need to be prepared. Get hard data and use that data to drive your strategy. You need to share the data, if you hold onto your data too close your ideas will not build a broad level of support.
  4. Implement the idea,working to build and share your vision with others

Check out the full video here


Ordinary Audiences Are Doing Extraordinary Things

 The presentation by Danny Homan (2014) at the  Bristol AMA Conference demonstrated how changing marketing is about more than changing traditional selling, but changing the way a company treats its clients and programs for them.  The Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) is an organisation with a highly developed marketing sense. The charity controls some of Britain’s palaces, including the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, and Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland. The charity gave up public funding in 2004, so it needed to market its product to survive and pay the high costs associated with the upkeep of these places .


The HRP, which has a well-funded and productive marketing operation, wanted to engage new visitors to sites. The market at the moment is 3.2 million visitors, of which 60% are from overseas. This makes the organisation open to downturn if international tourism for some reason dramatically falls. Their chief aim in the operation is to increase the domestic market by 50% to 1.5 million by 2020. The gain was to be drawn by an awareness to ‘put [HRP’s] audiences first’. This switches the traditional hierarchy of seeing these places as great institutions that the public should visit. The British public have a high awareness of the places, with 89% recording an awareness of at least one venue, but only 5% would even consider visiting them in 2013.

The HRP saw it needed to develop the relationship with its audience. All this happened during the post-GFC period, where ‘our research told us that in a world more uncertain than ever, people were searching for roots, foundation and anchors’. It was not to develop the relationship between the physical places and the audience or exploit the emotional and intellectual needs of the British public.HRP-home-yeomanwarder-tour_2

The HRP came up with a new brand proposition. Homan  described it as emerging from the diagram. The drive comes from the concept of relationship as a ke y maIMG_4867rketing strategy that was going to drive not only marketing, but the events at the palaces.

The brand proposition became ‘through Historic Palaces, I can relive the drama of the nation’s past.’ What the proposition did was to open up a myriad of marketing opportunities for the houses. The places are seen as being comprised of three distinct steps:

  • ‘Step onto the Stage’ one goes where history was made and meets kings (actors), gardeners, and conservators.
  • ‘In Your Own Way’ one explores the palaces both in serious and fun ways in self-guided events and methods.

This was all completed around the theme of the 300 anniversary of the Georges taking the throne.

This is calculated by segmentation of the audience conducted with considerable analysis using segmentation devised by HRR. The HRP sees the expression of the key segment as being essential, for which the affirmation is secondary. They used the survey to gain a full perspective of audience preferences regarding how they consume media, their interests, and their concerns.


Building the Audience through a Digital Relationship

Digital presentations play a significant role in building the relationship between the public and art. Many Australian arts companies rely on social media as hubs for comments and information on their websites. Rebecca Taylor’s 2014 presentation for the AMA Conference in Bristol outlined how the arts companies can take advantage of digital media, especially social media. Taylor has experience working with some of the largest art institutions, and this experience can be transferred to many artistic enterprises.

Taylor recounted how the average adult will spend 5 hours per day online, and this is the focus of her marketing role. She outlined the three tiers of the ‘digital marketing trifecta’: paid, earned, and owned media. With paid media, one pays for advertising, which could entail boosting a post on Facebook or creating adverts on the social media site. Earned media are shared media that get talked about or liked via social media such as Twitter or Facebook. A good example of this last type of media is the retirement image of the Australian Ballet ballerina Lucinda Dunn, which received over 1600 likes and 60 shares within 12 hours of its posting. This image had a strong hero and was part of a well-developed narrative on the Facebook site. This strong narrative led to a strong Facebook engagement.

Longitude, Dublin

The Group shot, just how many links can this create

Owned media, Taylor points out, may take the form of blog posts and website links. The advantage of this form is that it is controlled by the company and not subject to the whims of social media logarithms or disappearing from a moving timeline. It can also be updated easily by the company using easy-access systems like WordPress. Taylor emphasises the importance of having a clean, simple website to convey information effectively.

The use of email newsletters is a major way to communicate with the followers of an artistic enterprise. The ticketing systems like can collect email addresses of people attending shows. Taylor noted the importance of focusing on the opening line, as systems like gmail include it in their content. Taylor reported that 35% of people open email based on this primary line. Another issue is the send time for the emails. If sent in the later part of the day, the chances of being opened are greater, as people have dealt with work emails first, allowing the later part of the day for what can be considered more social correspondence. Considerations like shareability on social media and ease of reading all help to drive traffic to the major project of the company’s website.

Taylor pointed out that one does not need to have a clear strategy for social media posts. This does not mean that everything a company needs to be planned; like any relationship, it is best alive when it is allowed to be spontaneous.

Taylor explained how different social media platforms can be used to tailor the message to the targeted audience. Facebook is still the most popular platform to deliver information, photos, and events, but more and more it is subject to algorithm issues.

Taylor singled out the Instagram platform as being particularly effective for displaying photos of events. Instagram has a higher degree of brand engagement than does Facebook, appealing to an under-35 demographic. This is a key target for arts companies as they face the ageing of their present client base. Likewise, platforms like Tumblr and Pinterest can be used effectively to visually spike interest in productions.


Arts marketing Australia’s Michael McCallum at work

The image is subject to the changes in the market. New forms like Snapchat are very effective with young people (under 25), so you must look to note how the technology is changing, being aware of what people are using technology and how social media fashions change .

The phrase ‘content is king’ is the mantra of social media promotion. Arts companies have an advantage of having interesting subjects and topics to promote that would be the envy of someone working in marketing laundry detergent. With string visuals and interesting and attractive artists, the arts company can promote its products to consumers and take advantage of high shareability without having pay for expensive advertising. Art events and occasions are also able to be shared on social media, so by being at an arts event, the people enjoy it and it fills a social need.

Taylor also advises keeping a social media content calendar so that posts can be noted. By sharing these calendars across the organisation, people will not swamp the media platform with posts. Social media websites normally have more than one administrator, and the ability to see planned posts on a calendar eliminates waste.

To gain extra followers and widen the reach of posts, hashtags have proven to be an effective way of gathering an audience. These hashtags can be used to create awareness of an event, but these hashtags need to be clearly displayed at events. Hashtags can be used over a wide range of social media platforms. These hashtags also allow an organisation to source images of events from other users. The best images are often crowdsourced from the public, which can be shared on the social media. This way, the most effective images are easily sourced to be shared by a media platform like an Artis Company website, creating quite a buzz for the original image poster.

Data analysis is very important to any social media strategy. Analysing the social media statistics will reveal which type of post most appeals to the target audience, thus allowing the company to engage that particular market segment. Australian theatre companies can access these data through Facebook Insights and through ticketing surveys.