Use Full Buildings…

This week we held our third “programmers day” – which, unlike the first, isn’t just for our venue programmers anymore. In fact, Tuesday’s day had the widest range of attendees from Programmers, Operations Managers, General Managers, Front of House Managers and Administrators. From here on in, we plan to refer to them as house ‘venue network meetings’.

Our title was “Use full buildings”, a [hopefully] clever pun for the venue’s audience as well as their spaces. I knew what it stood for! This was the first of the days where I have solely organised it, so it’s safe to say I was a little bit nervous about things going wrong. In the gorgeous Saloon Bar at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, we gave everyone a badge and a coffee, and got ready for the day to begin.

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We had a keynote speech from Lisa Baxter, talking about the audience experience in a venue and charting that journey. She also ran an afternoon breakout workshop for us, going into more detail of the audience experience plan.

Alongside Lisa’s breakout, we also had Maddy Costa from Dialogue talking about audience discussion groups, the audience as the critic, and James Turnbull from somewhereto_, talking to our venues about the spaces they don’t use on a daily basis, and how young people might be able to use them to be creative in different ways. He snuck in a bottle of Smirnoff for his session… although not to bribe the attendees!

What I like about our days – and I’m not just saying this because we run them – is that there’s a real feeling of a collective, and we are able to bring these people together in a room. Some probably think we have too much ‘unstructured’ time in the day, but give people a cup of tea or coffee – or some sandwiches – and it’s nice to watch them talk and take part in the conversations.

We ended this day with a trip to the pub… and a well-earned glass of Sauvignon Blanc for me!