Our Creative Director, Andrew Collier, wrote this article for this month’s UK Theatre Magazine

Audience experience is one of those buzz phrases that’s been doing the rounds lately (perhaps since audience development fell out of fashion) and I’m not sure there’s a consistent understanding of what it means. For me, it’s every interaction the audience has apart from the performance itself. It’s the website, the booking process and the emails people receive before and after the show. It’s the exchange policy, the latecomers policy and the photography policy. It’s the range of refreshments and souvenirs, and, yes, it’s the loos.

However good the work on the stage, most theatres deliver pretty poor audience experience. Buying tickets is often frustrating. It’s difficult – sometimes impossible – to find basic information like running times or parking costs. Foyers are crowded, queues are long and seats are uncomfortable. And all of these problems are amplified for family audiences. At the family arts conference last autumn someone tweeted that we should stop talking about loos and start talking about art, which would be fair enough if any of us were getting loo provision for families right. Very few of us are.

Putting the physical restrictions of Victorian theatres to one side, there’s still plenty that can be done to make families feel welcome when they come to see a show. But if we want to deliver an exceptional audience experience for families with children as young as 6 months we need to unlearn many of the […]