Empathy mapping in the performing arts

Empathy mapping can be a very valuable tool, especially in the performing arts business. It is something I tried for years to apply at the performing arts venue I used to work at. There were two main things I was always advocating for, cheaper student tickets for shows that we knew were not going to sell out and bringing in shows that were geared towards people under 40.

Every time I asked, I was told that the reason we never brought in shows geared towards people under 40, aside from the occasional kids show, was because this age group does not pay to come to see shows. Being a concert goer under 40 who knows lots of other people my age who pay to go see shows, I always was a little offended by this statement. I also knew no research had been done to back up the claim. Even though I suggested that I would be happy to do the surveying, I was never taken seriously and therefore, it was never implemented.

To collect the information, I would have surveyed a few different customer segments. The first group would be those who already came to the theatre, but were younger attendees, aiming for those patrons who are under 40. The second group would be those who go to shows at other venues downtown, the same area that our theatre was in, again under 40. Third, I would survey those who went to the coffee houses and cafes downtown, of the same age range, assuming they are of the customer segment that has money to spend.

Here is a list of questions that could prove to be very helpful when assessing if a younger audience is willing to go to see a show:

  • Age
  • List 5 shows you would like to see at this theatre.
  • How many shows have you seen in the past year, where did you see them?
  • How much do you normally spend on shows?
  • What is the most you would spend to see a show?
  • If there was a cheaper ticket available, would this entice to you come see a show at the theatre?

After doing an initial round of surveying, I would assess the information and come up with another set of questions. Some examples of questions for round two are as follows:

  • Rank the following shows according to your interest, indicating if you have no interest (Do some research and find 5 shows that are within the price range the theatre is willing to spend, were of interest in the first round of questions and the theatre is interested in bringing in)
  • Who much would you spend to see these shows?
  • Are you likely to bring other friends of your age range with you to see one of these shows?
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