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.