The future of Performing Arts is ‘digitally’ bright
Digital communications in Performing Arts can go beyond simply posting tweets during performance times and providing an online ticketing system. Improving customers’ experience in theatre venues via easy-to-use apps, online vouchers and rewarding schemes has become the norm for organisations aiming to ‘grab’ prospective customers’ attention and hold tight onto their already existing customer base. But would this always be a winning move?
Digital is there to offer the unique opportunity of optimizing storytelling and the visual arts. By taking control of sound and lighting, where technology can create an environment to advocate theatrical dialogue, the use of digital media in the arts enhances the emotional atmosphere of the whole scene as well as controlling choreography of production.
There is the actual risk of digital and physical performance not being able to blend well together. This is evident in the small handful of companies and organisations who are actually succeeding in bringing the two together. However, this wasn’t the case with National Theatre Live – the National Theatre’s groundbreaking project to broadcast the best of British theatre live from the London stage to cinemas across the UK and around the world.. What they’ve done exceptionally well is use digital technology to engage with two types of audience: theatre-goers and cinema fans. The results? Broadcasting live theatre performances across the UK cinema venues brought ‘real excitement’ to a new 84% of NT Live cinema audiences. Digital distribution has possible due to the installation of 240 digital projectors in a lot of independent cinemas.
The next generation of theatre connoisseurs is a new breed – although socially active, there is an inconsistency in approach as theatre is still experimenting with digital’s possibilities. It’s because of this inconsistency and open possibility why making a digital presence is a highly important factor for arts organizations.
A lot of theatre-goers believe social platforms bring legitimacy and reliability to a performing arts event. According to Eventbrite, 39% of Millennials wouldn’t bother to attend an event if there is no option to buy tickets online.
The secret to engaging art-lovers lies in offering interactive personalised experiences. Mobile applications that integrate augmented reality could be a way of giving visitors a better understanding of the genres and the production process, could offer an exclusive sneak peek behind the scenes before the performance has started and remind clients of upcoming events. All of this brings an element of personalisation to the theatre enthusiast making them feel privileged and valued.
Moreover, increased online activity offers theatres the benefits of maintaining a meaningful dialogue with clients via building an online community. For instance, in order to grow their online reach, some performing arts institutions in the UK have partnered with Amazon to launch a ticketing service, thus increasing the variety of digital channels and reaching a wider audience of theatre goers.
Let’s not forget creating astonishing spectacles on stage should be performance-driven and not digital-led. Isn’t this the beauty of theatre, namely human interaction and conversation? A balance between conventional theatre acting and ground-breaking digitalization needs to be set, but its exciting to see the experiments as the arts develop this integration
All in all
How to make the relationship between the physical venue and the online space even stronger? Blurring the lines between digital and physical is very much the challenge these days. In order to grow their audience, theatre names in the sector need to provide more than just a flawless onstage experience. Every touch point is vital when creating a seamless end-to-end customer journey.
Theatres are embracing and experimenting with digital media in performance. Successors such as National Theatre Live are paving the way, showing others that it can be achieved if your audience is at the center of the purpose.
Watch this space for a follow up on how the Birmingham Arts Scene is embracing digital culture in performance.
Authored by Heaven.