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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: March 4, 2009 @ 12:13 pm

    Ask the audience

    Fiona McCann

    In her recent interview with this paper, Pat Moylan, the new Arts Council Chair made it clear that much of her focus will be to get bums on seats, and paying bums at that. So how does she do that, exactly? Perhaps it’s time to ask the audience. As bums yourselves, what would get you on a seat in one of Ireland’s theatres? What kind of performing arts productions will you pay to see in these penny pinching times?

    • paul m says:

      I think Moylans approach of increasing box office prices is a little bit of painting with broad strokes here and a little alarming. When you have cinemas packed to the rafters, nearly on a nightly basis, with prices cheaper than theatre and queues doubling round the foyer how is theatre supposed to compete with that?

      Cinema benefits from word of mouth, trailers and a big advertising push by the distribution company. In tight-wad times there really needs to be a clear approach to effective advertising for theatre (again possibly productions pooling resources here and buying ad space together so as to cut costs).

      This bum has found a seat in Dublins theatres but I’ve also found it hard to get my head around approaching theatre purely because those productions outside of what I know of or have been recommended to me by friends with similar tastes arent worth the risk of high ticket prices or sitting through a flop.

      If we could somehow get access to reduced priced shows (weekened matinees or the last minute ticket queues similar to broadway NYC) or at least get theatre reviews into the same slot as cinema reviews on tv (i think RTE’s The View is preaching to the converted) then maybe you’ll see an increase in audiences willing to risk that cinema ticket on a trip to the theatre instead.

      but it will be interesting to see what Pat Moylan has to offer. I do like the mention of bringing some big Irish names back to get involved in productions and i think the Gate has to be the model for this as they seem to consistently push creative theatre with the draw of a big name actor to secure that sell out run.

    • Fiona says:

      Paul M: Good point. One of the issues raised by the judges at the Irish Times Theatre awards is that there is no one website, one go-to site that will tell you what is happening in Irish theatre on any given day. I am constantly missing productions due to lack of information, and that’s coming from someone working in the media in that specific area. Moylan is an interesting choice given her strong commercial success – if anyone can get bums on seats, this is the woman, though she would do well to have a word with Michael Colgan as the grand master of the sold out show.

    • Fred says:

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. A decently produced stage adaptation of Jaws is long overdue. I think with the right cast and a dingy O’Casey-tenement setting it could be commercially successful and critically acclaimed. And if they had problems transporting all of the sets and costumes to the UK for the tour, they could always get a bigger boat.

    • Sean MacC says:

      Hey Fiona, we’re just about to roll out just what you’re looking for — a single website where you can see what arts events are on at any time.

      You can search by county, by day, by art form, and so on. It also works on mobiles, and everything is listed by start-time, so people will be able to check stuff from a bar or a restaurant and go to events at the last minute, if they want.

      Fáilte Ireland are delighted about it, too, because the’re going to use it to fly the flag abroad, and drive tourists to the arts events around the country. All of this should be good for creating a bit of a buzz about what is on and hot, and, hopefully, getting more people to experience some of the best arts in the world.

      (This is true, by the way — it’s not just Arts Council propaganda! Think about it — the one area where we can say we are world class, consistently, is the arts. Name me one other country with a population of 5 million that has the sort of reputation we have!)

      Anyway, we’ve just sent all our arts organisations the login and password for loading up their events.

      You can check it out now — events.artscouncil.ie — we’ll be giving it a little facelift before we launch it properly, but it’s fully functioning now.

    • Fred Johnston says:

      I am interested in the curious reluctance of the Irish Times to engage with what I would have considered to be a decent arts’ story; to whit, the Council’s withdrawal of programme funding from the Western Writers’ Centre, Galway, partly on the suggestion of an anonymous sender of press-clippings of letters I had written to local papers critical of the Galway Arts’ scene. In spite of Deirdre Falvey’s initial interest (she went so far as to request documents, and she was given them) she never wrote the story and no one in the Irish Times has been amenable to replying to any questions upon the issue. Why so?

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