Identifying the Potential

Identifying the Potential, – a major research project into drama audiences in Wales is published today. Arts Council of Wales commissioned Audiences Wales, the arts marketing and audience development agency for Wales, to prepare the research on the development of theatre audiences in Wales.

Identifying the Potential is the most comprehensive piece of research on the theatre sector undertaken in Wales with detailed analysis of ticket sales from theatres across Wales, interviews with 22 theatres and 8 production companies, and focus groups and interviews with over 120 members of the public.

With nearly a million tickets for drama events sold in Wales across a three year period, 2005-2008, the report shows a healthy and successful sector with even greater potential to reach audiences.

Nick Capaldi, Chief Executive of Arts Council of Wales, said:
“Theatre in Wales is one of the country’s cultural glories, and it’s clear that many people are already experiencing a range of drama activity. However, there are still people who are missing out, and we’re very keen that the widest audience possible has the opportunity to enjoy what’s on offer. This important piece of research sets out the challenge, and we look forward to working with our partners to grow the audiences for the future.”

Nick Beasley, Chief Executive of Audiences Wales, said:
“There are some significant issues highlighted by this study and some positive things to say about drama in Wales. Around 20-25% of the population in Wales is going to plays.

“However, nearly two-thirds of audiences attend plays very infrequently. Within a context where available programming is seen as limited and theatres and audiences are both seen as ‘risk averse’, the sector faces some important challenges.

“If Arts Council of Wales and the sector can develop co-operative strategies to increase the frequency of current attenders and reach new audiences, drama in Wales will flourish and support the development of theatres and arts centres throughout the country.”

The research has been presented in a two part report. The first part presents a summary of the research findings, the conclusions and recommendations, and a framework, with associated resources, to support theatres and companies to deliver the potential identified in the report. The second part of the report includes the detailed research findings, audience profiles and analysis that have informed the conclusions and recommendations.

The impetus for the project came from Arts Council of Wales drama strategy which expressed the concern that audiences need to be developed for drama, particularly in light of the new English language National Theatre Wales. There had also been in-depth discussion about current and future audience levels at Creu Cymru Drama Consortium Meetings over the past three years.

The project benefited from a steering group including Creu Cymru, the Wales Association for the Performing Arts, and Arts Council of Wales to support the project and maximise the benefits to all theatres, arts centres and production companies in Wales.

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