Charles Bailey survey results offer useful insights into minds of local theatre goers

By Contributor
September 12th, 2013

After 2 months of collecting 475 surveys, the Charles Bailey Theatre (CBT) survey results are in. As part of the Charles Bailey Theatre Business plan, consultant Nadine Tremblay and members of the Trail and District Arts Council (TDAC) collected data at community events, at theatre performances and on-line. Results will help assess the current theatre market of Greater Trail and will be taken into account when making recommendations to the theatre business plan.

Results show that 28% of theatre patrons attend the Charles Bailey Theatre 3-5 times a year and 24% attend more than 5 times a year. Tremblay explains, “This is probably due to the performance series subscription of 8 shows a year that has over 350 annual members.” The Community at large strongly support the theatre with 82% of patrons that think the theatre is very important to the community and 73% of Greater Trail public that think the theatre is very important to the community. 

Here is some of what patrons have to say about the theatre:

  • “Our theatre enables us to enjoy and appreciate national and international concerts and performances that we cannot access anywhere else locally.”
  • “Cultural activities are necessary for both children and adults, and without decent entertainment, it would affect the type of employees one can draw to the area in medicine, High-end tech, and aspiring youth.”
  • “We need access to the arts that is affordable and broad ranging.”
  • “It is important to have the arts as well as other things in town.”

Current theatre patrons have a broad programming interest with most enthusiasm for musical theatre, comedy, theatre, rock/pop concerts and dance. While most facility and service ratings are good to excellent, patrons repeatedly recommend air conditioning/better ventilation, easier access to tickets, a larger lobby area, more inspiring esthetics in general and simply more programming and variety of programming.

The majority of theatre customers are prepared to pay $40 on average for a professional art and culture experience and a maximum of $20 on average for an amateur event.

While theatre patrons are hearing about events via numerous means, 69% of patrons find out about events by reading the local newspaper.

When asked why theatre patrons participate in arts and cultural experiences, the majority say: to be entertained, to socialize and/or to relax. A few patrons explain further:

  • “To encourage multicultural awareness and acceptance.”
  • “To watch kids enjoy it.”
  • “To appreciate great talent, beauty and provide food for my soul.”
  • “Critical and creative thinking is deepened and therefore is cultivated. Attending concerts, performances, etc. of a variety of forms, over time, I believe better prepares people for work life and life in general. Engagement in these experiences is just plain good for our health! It is good for the brain and neuroscience documents the effects of serotonin and dopamine after experiencing a wonderful concert! Happy, relaxed, people are more vital and in turn contribute to the economic vitality of their communities.”

Entertainment-wise, CBT customers are also spending their money at the Royal movie theatre, the Spokane Civic Centre, on hockey games, sports activities, books, art courses, mini vacations, restaurants, beer, Netflix and cable television.  Monthly expenditures on entertainment in the region averages $50 per person.

Tremblay sums up the demographics, “while 74% of theatre patrons are over the age of 46 with the majority of those being between 56-65 years of age, this mimics the current demographics of Trail. One can only predict that the attendance of theatre patrons will decrease over time but that threat also creates an opportunity to build and market to a younger audience of theatre goers as well as maintain and keep happy the older audiences.”

Results from the theatre renters survey states that 50% of theatre renters were “somewhat satisfied” with their last rental of the Charles Bailey theatre and 50% of renters think that the theatre is too expensive to rent. Tremblay clarifies, “most theatres operate under a not-for-profit status that enable them to apply for grants which in turn highly subsidizes their operational costs and therefore reduces the cost of tickets and rental. Other theatres also have fundraising initiatives, membership drives and marketing plans that help generate income overall and while this takes money and time it also helps offset costs of running events for the community who use the theatres.”

Part of the survey process was to visit local businesses and chat with them about how the theatre and local business can work together. Of all the 19 businesses surveyed only 5 are open during theatre events. Of those 5 businesses (restaurants mostly), 3 of them see more than 20+ theatre patrons at their place of business on show nights. And while all 19 businesses surveyed are keen to work with the theatre on some capacity, whether through sponsorship, promotional help, advertising or cross-promotion, 68% think that the theatre is important to the vitality and economy of Trail however they do not necessarily think the theatre directly impacts their business.

While survey results are being analyzed, the Charles Bailey theatre is already working towards making improvements to the building and operations. With an October 15, 2013 deadline for this business plan, patrons will have to wait for the overall plan and recommendations to see what the future predicts for the largest venue in the region.

Congratulations to Mary Deering for participating in the survey and winning the draw for 2 free tickets to the 2013-14 Trail Society for the Performing Arts Season. Thank you to all citizens who took part. This project is made possible by: The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, The City of Trail, Trail and District Arts Council, Enterprising not-for-profits and the VISAC Gallery.

Theatre and Arts Industry Overview

  • According to research release by the Alliance for Arts and Culture of BC, 70.9% of British Columbians attended a performing arts event or cultural festival in 2010. Prior to that there was a 12% increase in cultural participation since 1992.
  • On average, British Columbians spend $869 annually per capita on entertainment, slightly more than the average Canadian and of which 12% is spent on events and artwork specifically.
  • In 2008, $200 million was spent on live performing arts while only $100 million was spent on live sports. In the average household, 41% reported some spending on performing arts while only 19% were spent on live sports.
  • The B.C. Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts 2009 research shows that in return for spending $9,569,009 in grants to 300 arts and cultural organizations through the B.C. Arts Council, the government received $10,040,674 to $13,008,696 in provincial taxes—a figure often referred to by arts supporters as: every dollar invested in the arts generates between $1.05 and $1.36 in provincial tax revenues.
  • The study also found that for every dollar of initial expenditure, additional spending in the range of $0.57 and $0.87 was generated in the B.C. economy; and that for every direct job in the arts and cultural sector of B.C. between 1.32 and 1.52 jobs were created in the whole economy.

Categories: Arts and Culture

Other News Stories