In a picturesque canalside spot in Brecon, South Wales, sits Theatr Brycheiniog, a 477 seat arts venue rooted in its community. It’s been delivering audiences a varied programme of Welsh and English language theatre and music since 1997.

The Challenge

Like many, the theatre weathered recent years thanks to a necessarily flexible approach to forward planning and a strategy combining tentative experimentation with audience monitoring, community feedback via surveys, and keeping a sharp eye on sector evidence. In summer 2021, working with Theatr na nOg, the Brycheiniog hosted one of Wales’ first pilot events on behalf of Welsh Government to inform the easing of Covid restrictions for the cultural sector in Wales.

The Approach

The next year, Theatr Brycheniog became one of the first venues in Wales to apply Audience Spectrum Licensing directly within their Ticketsolve system - a service The Audience Agency also offers for other leading ticketing platforms. Essentially, this meant tagging each customer in the database with one of 10 segments (and 20 subsegments), unlocking a catalogue of background information on that customer, based on likelihoods from a number of evidence sources and trends from cultural datasets – used in a specific, applicable context.

Now, following a significant refurbishment to welcome its returning visitors, the theatre continues to develop its data-led approach to meeting its audience’s needs and mitigating the impact of challenges the cultural sector has faced, past and present.

We spoke to the team leading the theatre’s ambitious evidence-led audience development programme - Anna Wormleighton, Marketing, Comms and Audiences Manager, and Lynfa Protheroe, Marketing & Sales Data Analyst, about how they’re putting the the UKs most powerful cultural segmentation tool into practice.

The Successes

Objective #1

To take a targeted, evidence-led comms strategy over a one-size fits all approach.

The intention being to develop a deep understanding of current and lapsed audiences, and the factors impacting their return to live events e.g., Covid impact, cost of living and work-from-home effect.

Using a combination of Ticketsolve reporting and audience insights from the Audience Finder Data Tools (now Audience Answers), it’s been possible to identify some clear patterns in audience trends.

Since Covid it’s been like going back to ground zero, comparing audiences from 2019 with now is simply a very different world. There are a lot more first-time bookers appearing at the moment, but we also know there are bookers who haven’t returned.

Although we’ve always been led by our data, Audience Finder has made the process less longwinded, and being able to see national benchmarks for the various audience behaviours is useful, particularly now when so much is changing for everyone.

The Audience Spectrum profiles of our audiences helped us to see the overall strands of our audiences that need looking after, and it’s these strands we’re trying to encourage to either come back or to increase their frequency.’

Anna Wormleighton, Marketing, Comms and Audiences Manager

The profiling shows that 4 key segments made up nearly 87% of their total audience base in the last 12 months.

Having examined the in-depth behavioural and attitudinal characteristics of these 4 segments, Lynfa and Anna have created bespoke season launch comms for each – highlighting the events most likely to appeal and using evidence on preferred tone alongside contextual information to their advantage. Then, via mailing lists based on the same segmentation within their Ticketsolve system, the appropriate version has been delivered to each audience member via email and in some cases mailout.

‘For two of the segments we’re looking at, we know a general good night out is top of the agenda. They want to go and have a memorable experience with family and friends, to have a good time, a good service, a good quality show. These are the kinds of areas we look at emphasising in our bespoke comms.’

Lynfa Protheroe, Marketing & Sales Data Analyst

Objective #2

Increase reach within the local community – identified as a 20-minute drive-time.

Postcode analysis of existing audiences is one thing, but identifying potential locations to focus on new audiences can be more difficult. Using population mapping by Audience Spectrum Type, Theatr Brycheiniog have begun looking at the postal sectors with the greatest potential in terms of existing populations.

‘We're trying certain postcodes for certain shows. We have been able to use the audience segmentation to look at the way that might happen, for example targeting postal sectors where we know high numbers of a particular segment are living.’

Anna Wormleighton, Marketing, Comms and Audiences Manager

Objective #3

Monitor audience trends and return on investment for targeted campaigns, in order to learn and adapt our plans to accommodate what’s working and what isn’t.

The team continues to monitor insights such as booker frequency, drop-off rates and return on investment to see how the new strategy is playing out in practice.

‘Of course, with so many other external factors in play, it’s quite a difficult one to prove. We’ve begun monitoring trends by segment, but we’ve only tried this approach for the last 2 seasons, so until more time has passed we won’t see how the patterns play out. We also don’t have the baseline data to compare with yet, and we’ve only limited data showing what the take up from our original comms was by segment – a good lesson in planning ahead!’

Lynfa Protheroe, Marketing & Sales Data Analyst

With support from The Audience Agency, Theatr Brycheiniog will continue to monitor progress and share findings with the wider sector when the data is in.

‘Until we have a full year’s data it will be a very difficult thing to quantify because we're talking about completely different set of events and a completely different time of year. At the moment we’re trying to compare apples and pears, but we’re looking forward to the picture becoming clearer going forward.’

Anna Wormleighton, Marketing, Comms and Audiences Manager

Interested in what Audience Spectrum can offer your organisation? Contact our team to find out more.