Building Audiences

On her Guardian blog over the weekend, Lyn Gardner asked ‘Should theatre fund audiences and not just artists?’ Of course, the two are not mutually exclusive, and Lyn doesn’t suggest that they are. What she does suggest is that perhaps the funding system should be putting as much energy into developing audiences as it does into developing artists. After all, what use is there in developing theatre if there ends up being no one to see it?

The blog also featured a lovely mention of house, which Lyn pointed to as an organisation that is forward-looking in its approach to building audiences. As Gavin Stride explained on this very blog, one of the key aims of house is to get high quality, exciting work to bigger audiences by connecting the ambitions of theatre-makers and theatregoers. Lyn acknowledges, like house, that this is about considering more than just an immediate audience. It is not about one venue, or a group of venues, or an area of the country; it is about the entire theatre ecology.

The very nature of an ecology is that what happens in one part of it has an impact elsewhere. The hope is that through initiatives like house, which is working to build a sustainable audience base for work across the South East and Eastern England, the drive towards connecting artists and audiences might extend to and revitalize other areas of the ecology.