Rebuilding Our Houses: Virtual Working Groups


TCG Members may join any and all groups at your convenience.

If there is any certainty that we can name as 2023 gets underway, it’s that this year will hold very little certainty for most theatres. A major source of that precarity is that – no matter your theatre’s size – our audiences have by and large not returned to our houses at pre-pandemic levels. TCG hosted a Virtual LAB in December 2022 on Refilling our Houses, which featured a preview of more research to come from TCG, as well as perspectives from some who have been successfully experimenting with engaging new audiences, and breakout groups around different engagement-based topics. The LAB presented key takeaways for TCG: theatre people are tired, our teams are sparse, and the energy to continually reinvent our offerings to our audiences is low, at best. There is much we still don’t understand about the times we live in now, but we do know that most theatres will not refill our houses by returning to the same practices or, in some cases, programming that we offered in the “Before times.”

So, where is our solution? What is the path forward?
How can we find a balance between reacclimating our audiences to our art form, and meeting them where they are in this new world?

We’ve been running on fumes in our separate marathons, and TCG is ready to bring the field together for those longer term conversations. The LAB offered us further insight into the audience-related questions that are keeping theatre people up at night, and we’ve designed containers for different pieces of those conversations in the form of peer-facilitated virtual working groups. Each group will have a specific focus and intention, and will offer a combination of facilitated, emergent conversation between those present, and topic-relevant case studies presented by your peers and TCG partners, some shared over the course of several meetings for truly deep dives. The first groups will launch in the coming weeks, will each meet on a bi-weekly schedule for 60-90 minutes, and those groups will run through June of this year; the next round of groups will launch in September and will run through the following January. More information about the specific groups and their schedules can be found [below/here]. TCG Members may join any and all groups at your convenience. 

Over the course of this work, TCG will assess the efficacy of these groups to determine how they might evolve and how the knowledge developed between them can be compiled, disseminated, and put to use for the broader field.

Working Groups

New Audience Behavior and Redefining Loyalty

The pandemic has drastically accelerated an already downward trend in subscription sales, coupled with sharp drops in single ticket sales and unpredictable audience behavior trends, all of which has had a domino effect on the financial stability of our organizations. This group will dive into new experimental subscription,  membership, ticketing, and budgeting models theatres of various sizes are rolling out; as well as longtime practices of organizations that are seeing less decline or otherwise faring better through this transitional time. This group will also feature generative conversations with peers about shared challenges and opportunities in navigating this new terrain of audience loyalty  and attendance patterns.

Tuesdays 2-3 ET


7th / 21st

4th / 18th

2nd / 16th / 30th

13th / 27th

Data in the Driver’s Seat

There is a growing amount of data and research emerging across cultural fields about audience trends in the “post-pandemic” era. Deeper dives into these studies  can help ground new audience engagement approaches in a clearer and comprehensive understanding of what is happening across performing arts disciplines, why that might be, and what might be coming down the pike. This group will hear from a variety of researchers, data sets, and case studies and will discuss how the findings tie together and can inform the development of new practices across the theatre field.

Tuesdays 2-3 ET


14th / 28th

11th / 25th

9th / 23rd

6th / 20th


Frequently Asked Questions

What's the purpose of the working groups?

Our goal is to provide theatre people on the frontlines of the field’s acute attendance challenges a longer-term working space to build knowledge, foster solidarity, and develop new practices for rebuilding their audiences and communities in this unprecedented time.

Who should attend the working groups?
Theatre people who are either an Individual Member or part of a Member organization are welcome to attend. The first round of groups may be of most interest to executive and associate leaders, as well as marketing or community engagement staff, but anyone who has an investment in these issues and discussions may join us.

How often should I attend?
Consistent attendance is encouraged, but missing meetings here and there is expected. Organizations may decide that they should send more than one staffer, one who attends one track of meetings while another attends the other track and compare notes. There will inevitably be overlap in our speakers and conversations. We will also plan to record as many meetings as possible, and to share the content with those who have signed up for a given track, though there may be some occasions when speakers or participants would prefer not to record.

What are the intended outcomes?
Participants will build community with one another, and feel supported by their peers and TCG as they resist burnout and contend with some of the hardest audience conditions of their theatrical careers.

Participants will absorb an array of in-depth case studies and shared models that spark ideas and inspiration, and allow them to apply new ways of thinking about audience engagement to their own organizations.

How will we accomplish this together?
Virtual working groups, designed as distinct topical threads of the audience engagement conversations that feel most urgent to theatres, will meet bi-weekly in Zoom meeting spaces, facilitated in some cases by TCG staff and in some cases by peers.

Each group will feature a set timeline of 10 meetings that are scheduled on a bi-weekly basis. Formats of the meetings will rely heavily on case studies and model-sharing for practical application of new ideas, but will sometimes make space for generative conversation processing the knowledge-building components and allowing for more interaction between participants.

Two groups will be rolled out in February and sunset in June, and the learnings from those groups will be processed over the summer and applied to a new set of groups set to launch in September and to sunset the following January, allowing for a full yearlong cycle of the project.

Takeaways from the whole process will be distilled by TCG and disseminated across the field on a rolling basis and perhaps in a final report after the final groups wrap their work together.