Perhaps the most anticipated moments in the cycle of an arts venue occur at the point when a new season is announced. For us at Lincoln Drill Hall that has become a more fluid proposition in recent years.
As we continue to widen the range of arts and entertainment that we offer, we find ourselves dealing with more and more promoters wanting ever varying dates for their work, artist or company to go on sale. So is there any true date for us to announce when a season is available?
Our full autumn season, covering events from September to Christmas went on sale to Friends of Lincoln Drill Hall two weeks ago on the 3 July. It went on public sale on the 10 July and this on sale was backed up by our season listings brochure arriving at the beginning of this week. In reality though, events in this season have been going on sale throughout the year.
Jack and The Beanstalk, our stunning 10th anniversary pantomime has been on sale since Beauty and The Beast graced our stage at the end of 2016. We have Russell Watson performing with us in September. The deal to bring him to Lincoln was struck in May and an immediate on sale requested. Unsurprisingly the concert sold out in just a couple of days, so for those who’ve waited for the brochure to drop through their letterbox – they’ve missed out.
A strong programme of comedy through the autumn, featuring Phill Jupitus, Andy Parsons, Jeremy Hardy, Mark Thomas, Jason Byrne and Tom Stade has been selling well for weeks now. The same is true of much of our music programme, Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Lady Sings The Blues have been selling since the spring.
There is a range of work though, that didn’t go on sale though until the official season launch date, including amazing theatre like Sherlock Holmes and the Crimson Cobbles or hilarious (and much recommended) new musical theatre How To Win Against History, but it’s no longer possible in a modern and fast moving arts environment to save everything for one huge launch.
It also doesn’t help us to maximise audiences for that extensive range of work as we diversify how we market the programme and encourage new and existing audiences to buy their tickets.
For instance, one factor to consider in this is how we communicate with people about what we do. Those who receive our monthly email newsletter were found out about Russell Watson first and encouraged to sign up to our Friends membership scheme, giving them priority booking for their valued support. The comedy programme mentioned above was offered first to those customers who have regularly attended our other comedy – a reward if you will for supporting that art form with us, rather than simply turning out for the biggest names.
Becoming more involved with our online and website communications is naturally becoming a bigger part of our strategy and more regularly the way that we can dynamically communicate about new work on offer. For example, an event in the spring that had been in our brochure for months, but hadn’t sold many tickets suddenly saw sales jump by around 180 tickets after a simple on line communication via our Facebook page.
As we move forward there’ll be more strategy in this area. Building the incentives for customers to visit more often, to join us as members and friends will become an integral part of our sales and marketing strategies. The earlier you book for events the better the ticket price you could secure. There’ll still be print and brochures as we know that audiences still like this communication, but it is static and needs to work for long periods so there’ll be changes coming in how that looks and how often we produce printed materials.
Our audiences and artists are central to our existence, and putting in place plans to ensure we serve both to the best of our ability will be coming into action over the coming months. It’s a fast-moving process, that will change our entire approach to the work we programme. Sign up to our newsletter, or become a Member. Like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram. Join us on this exciting journey. It should be an amazing ride.