Recently, I have been searching for platforms on how to help artists build new audiences for their respective shows. I have been speaking to many actors, directors, producers, and theater ensembles for several months, and to my surprise there is a very important group of potential theater goers that are not being targeted as much as they should be (in my opinion): High School Students. They are the next generation of supporters of the arts, yet most theater productions and cultural events are not accessible for young audiences in terms of budget and awareness.
There are programs which partner with arts groups in order to encourage students to attend cultural events by facilitating low-costs tickets specifically to teenagers. These programs are invaluable and often serve as a magnificent promotional tool. How does this work and how is it effective? For example, museums, theatres/plays, concerts (any institution hosting a cultural event), donates tickets and the program offers them to students for a significantly reduced price. In turn, most programs launch some comprehensive marketing action to ensure the events are promoted among the student community. The events are listed on the website, placed in e-blasts and phone apps, social media, given cultural spotlights, promoted to the public schools, YMCAs, after school care and youth arts programs, and special interest clubs (such as drama and glee clubs). This kind of effort easily reaches thousands of young people.
The marketing services I described above are worth a pretty penny, yet they are included at no charge by simply partnering with one of these fantastic programs. These programs are usually available in most large cities and sometimes are a part of the county’s cultural affairs department. In Miami, Florida (where I am from originally) for example, they have Culture Shock Miami, and I had the pleasure of working closely with this program, in my five-year tenure serving as the Communications Director for The Roxy Theatre Group, a non-profit performing arts organization for children and youth. I saw the immense difference in exposure and audience expansion when the organization collaborated with Culture Shock for their in-house musical productions such as West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, Once Upon a Mattress and the list goes on. Sometimes the tickets donated to Culture Shock would sell-out within two days and I would receive a request for more.
I currently live and practice publicity in New York City, and in my search for a program that offers low-costs tickets to students, I found High 5 Tickets to the Arts, a non-profit organization dedicated to making the arts affordable for teens. Students 13-18 (from anywhere in the world), can purchase tickets for $5.00 to hundreds of dance, music, theater, film, museum and spoken word events year-round. Additionally, this fabulous program has Teen Reviewers and Critics that cover events. It’s a wonderful way for teenagers to delve into New York’s thriving arts scene, as well as, an exceptional opportunity to develop their writing and communications skills. And at the same time dozens of events obtain some coverage and insight from a brand new set of audience members.
For more information on Culture Shock Miami, please visit: http://www.cultureshockmiami.com/. For details about High 5 Tickets to the Arts, check out: http://www.highfivetix.org/splash.aspx
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