Times are pretty tight in the arts sector at the minute and most of our venues are feeling the pinch. If you’re the sort of person who goes to concerts, cinema, theatre etc and you’d like to support local arts venues here are a few simple ways you can help them save money without actually spending any extra money yourself.
1. Buy your tickets early: Over the last few years there’s been a worrying trend towards audience members turning up last minute to buy tickets from box office. Buying tickets is always brilliant and much appreciated no matter when you decide to do this BUT if you buy your tickets early on it can often save a venue the money they’ll spend promoting the shows, which look like they’re not going to sell out but actually end up with a good crowd on the night. Venues also love people who book early as it cuts out weeks and weeks of anxiously wondering whether a show is going to have a decent audience.
2. Buy your drinks at the venue: If you’re going to buy a glass of wine or coffee before the show or afterwards plan on doing this at the venue. Wine is wine wherever you’re drinking it so you might as well drink at the in-house bar. Most venue which have a bar get a small cut of sales from the catering company which runs their drinks and snacks provision. We’re not talking about hundreds of thousands of pounds here, but it all adds up.
3. Return any free tickets you’re not using: If a venue is hosting a free event it will often “sell out” really quickly, but in Belfast this often means that only 50-60% of tickets actually translate into people showing up on the day. For free events venues often turn away lots of people who didn’t manage to get tickets. When you return a ticket you’re not using it helps the venue to ensure as many people as possible access the show, resources are fully utilised and funders etc. are not asking awkward questions about why so few people turned up for the event which they have paid for.
4. Be a pre-emptive social media user: It’s great when people Tweet or post on Facebook about a good show they’ve attended, especially if it’s still ongoing. However, it’s also much appreciated when audience members use social media to let their followers and friends know about a show they’re going to attend and are excited about. Word of mouth through social media is often a vital way of spreading information about an event and consequently selling tickets. Audience members raving about a show on social media is just about the best kind of advertising a venue can get.
5. Fill in evaluation forms: Evaluation forms are just about the dullest thing you can do with a pen. However, it doesn’t cost you anything to rate your experience and most venues require feedback from evaluation forms to improve upon their services, ensure their funders are satisfied and programme more effectively in the future.
I’d also like to add in a sixth sneaky point which is, appreciate the staff. Most of the people working Front of House jobs in our arts venues work long hours, make pretty mediocre money and are much more used to being complained at than thanked. A wee Tweet, an email or even a face to face thank you for good service or a pleasant experience is the sort of thing which will cost you nothing and very possibly make someone’s night.