The Topic With Staying Power: Patron Behavior

The New York Post published an article on 11/4/2017 by Michael Riedel titled Actors say rude audiences are destroying Broadway. Although the focus is Broadway, all the complaints are nothing new; it’s like a crewing a well-worn cud of dissatisfaction.

Adaptistration People 153Ticket buyers:

  • talk during the performance.
  • unwrap candy.
  • cough incessantly (but never leave).
  • drop programs.
  • drop purses and bags.
  • drop cell phone.
  • answer cell phones.
  • neglect/ignore turning off cell phones.
  • etc., etc., etc.

None of this is to belittle the negative impact thee distractions inflict on both performers and fellow audience members.

At the same time, I have yet to come across a genuinely effective measure capable of both marginalizing without simultaneously creating an off-putting concertgoing environment.

Identifying and classifying levels of distracting behavior is certainly a good first step and although shaming rude audience members, like this story from China about using laser lights, may seem cathartic, it doesn’t exactly refute the stereotype that performing arts events aren’t repressive and stuffy.

What I’m particularly interested in are studies that quantify behavior problems then measure efforts to design and implement a mitigation program.

I’ve been search and communicating with a few colleagues but outside of a few one-offs that have little to no follow-up.

If you’re aware of anything, please take a moment to share in a comment or reach out with a direct message.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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