A few weeks ago “Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling” was making the social media rounds. The album was inviting and eminently repost-able, but days after reading it, one of the points was still nagging at me. “Number two: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.” A similar mantra could be useful to those of us marketing the arts.
There’s just one thing: it’s not quite right.
The problem is that it’s actually rare for those of us who work in the performing arts to resemble our typical audience members. And it’s even less likely that our interests as audience members will align with the interests of those who aren’t currently attending events at our organizations. Last year I wrote about the perceptual and psychological barriers that keep audiences away. Just as those of us who work in the arts tend not to think enough about those barriers to participation, it often doesn’t occur to us that prospective audiences might attend a performance for reasons quite different from ours.