Audience development for the arts – #Auddev chat 3/23 – Professional/Amateur audience perceptions

For our Monday Moment, take a moment to look at the #auddev chat we had on Friday, 3/23.  We were having a discussion about professional/amateur audience perceptions.  Do audiences perceive the differences?  Are they willing to pay more for “professional?”  How do we define “professional” vs. “amateur” anyway?  Why are some amateur companies funded as well as professional groups?  If “professional” means being paid, how do we factor in “guest artists” into the equation?  There were other questions and issues that came up as well.  One of the questions that didn’t come up is why are some “amateur” groups doing better than “professional” groups in terms of audience and funding? and Why are they considered in the same pool for various grants?  Should they be separately funded?  They are all “non-profits” despite “professional” or “amateur.”

What is your stance on these issues?  Please feel free to comment in the reply box below!

From User Tweet
AudienceDevSpec Welcome to #auddev chat! Today I am here with @maricarjagger events organisation and marketing professional out of Portsmouth, UK.
AudienceDevSpec Hi @maricarjagger #auddev
AudienceDevSpec Please use the hashtag #auddev to chat with us.
RachealMc MT @audiencedevspec: Welcome to #auddev chat! I’m here with @maricarjagger events organisation & marketing profess. out of Portsmouth, UK.
AudienceDevSpec The main question is: Do people differentiate going to professional vs amateur performances? #auddev
RachealMc RT @audiencedevspec: Please use the hashtag #auddev to chat with us.
AudienceDevSpec RT @maricarjagger: Yes. The question is whether we should differentiate between amateur and professional events through pricing. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger So, meaning that the price of professional should reflect a higher price? #auddev
RachealMc RT @audiencedevspec: The main question is: Do people differentiate going to professional vs amateur performances? #auddev
AudienceDevSpec Right now I think there is all sorts of murky blur lines happening between “professional” and “amateur”. #auddev
THEATREtc RT @RachealMc: RT @audiencedevspec: The main question is: Do people differentiate going to professional vs amateur performances? #auddev
RachealMc @audiencedevspec That’s recently come up here in Toronto with a vengeance. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @RachealMc Can you give me an example? #auddev
RachealMc @audiencedevspec Our Actor’s Assn attempted a protest of one of our largest production companies over bringing in a non-union tour #auddev
Silagh Yes, audiences do have different perceptions between professional and amateur productions. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @RachealMc Yes, the Union issue comes into play in this discussion. Were they charging the same ticket price too? #auddev
maricarjagger RT @AudienceDevSpec: Please use the hashtag #auddev to chat with us.
AudienceDevSpec What also gets blurry is who is to define who is professional and who is amateur. #auddev
RachealMc @silagh they do have different perceptions, but the question is what classifies amateur vs. professional? #Auddev
JessieRelephant RT @AudienceDevSpec: The main question is: Do people differentiate going to professional vs amateur performances? #auddev
maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec @RachealMc I didn’t event think of the Union as part of the equation! Interesting #auddev
AudienceDevSpec There are companies that say they are professional, but the quality may not be. Will the audiences know the difference? #auddev
Silagh Some audiences expect lots of parents with video cameras at amateur performances. Even if not kids in show. #auddev
RachealMc @audiencedevspec In the US being non-union does not automatically mean amateur, but it does here and the stigma’s huge. #auddev
RachealMc Absolutely. RT @maricarjagger: @AudienceDevSpec Should we price a professional show more than an amateur show? #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @RachealMc Wow, so in Canada there actually is a standard based on “Union”? #auddev
RachealMc @audiencedevspec 100%. #auddev
maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec @RachealMc We were discussing recently whether a ‘professional musician’ necessarily one who has a degree in music #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @RachealMc The lines completely blur in the US. I have been to amateur performances in one city that are professional in others #auddev
RachealMc @audiencedevspec Yes, they were charging a comparable ticket price. #auddev
RachealMc @audiencedevspec It becomes trickier because it was originally a US union tour & got downgraded before it arrived here. #Auddev
AudienceDevSpec @RachealMc How does one get into the Union then? Are there quality standards or just a fee to pay? #auddev
RachealMc @maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec @RachealMc some of the most gifted & skilled musicians I know don’t. #auddev
maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec @RachealMc I suppose there lies the difficulty with pricing! #auddev
AudienceDevSpec Will an audience member choose a higher price ticket for the perceived extra quality? #auddev
RachealMc @audiencedevspec When I lived in Miami it was like that, same for my experience in Houston. #Auddev
AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger @RachealMc I have seen the same pricing for amateur/professional. #auddev
RachealMc Great question. RT @audiencedevspec: Will an audience member choose a higher price ticket for the perceived extra quality? #auddev
AudienceDevSpec This also relates to grants and other funding as well. #auddev
clydefitch Pivots on what “extra quality” is, no? MT @audiencedevspec: Will audiences choose higher price tickets for perceived extra quality? #auddev
RachealMc @audiencedevspec It’s much easier to get into CAEA than AEA. I got in with a letter. Many ADs won’t even look at a non Eq resume. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @clydefitch So defining quality is an issue as well. #auddev
RRCreative RT @AudienceDevSpec: Will an audience member choose a higher price ticket for the perceived extra quality? #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @RachealMc Union is a matter of having a company claim they are professional? #auddev
AudienceDevSpec I do feel a professional company has the choice of pricing higher than their local amateur company. We pay more in other industries. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec It gets tricky when amateur companies price on the higher side, then the professional company may be pricing too high for audience. #auddev
maricarjagger RT @AudienceDevSpec: Will an audience member choose a higher price ticket for the perceived extra quality? #auddev
AudienceDevSpec I know that professional companies that I consider professional get frustrated when amateurs call themselves professional. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec RT @maricarjagger: A concert by a world renowned chamber group £15 & last week a local piano teacher charges £15 for her concert. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger Was the chamber group upset by this? #auddev
maricarjagger A concert by a world renowned chamber group is £15 here and last week a local piano teacher charges £15 for her concert. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec Some Unions require an audition to get in, but some are fee based from what I am seeing/hearing. #auddev
maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec As a promoter, I was! We were careful to make sure the prices are affordable, but what is affordable? #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger Most reports point out that $25 or under is “affordable”. People will pay more for what they want. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec What is also interesting is sometimes the amateur groups get more of an audience than the professional ones. #auddev
RachealMc MT @maricarjagger: @AudienceDevSpec …We were careful to make sure the prices are affordable, but what is affordable? #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @clydefitch An amateur group can have a star show up too. #auddev
clydefitch @audiencedevspec Also, wouldn’t you agree “extra value” varies (or differs) by genre, setting, time of year, magnitude? #auddev
maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec That begs the question whether less people will want it if the event is more expensive? #auddev
RachealMc @audiencedevspec @maricarjagger That is a key question. #auddev
RachealMc @maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec I’ve worked with companies where the gross over spending & wastage is sickening. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger That is a major question to consider. People will spend money on what they value. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec I think it is about asking your audience for their perceptions before you price. What is worth it to them? #auddev
RachealMc @maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec The costs are then passed on to the audience & they wonder why people complain of high prices. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @RachealMc @maricarjagger So some professional companies don’t have to price as high if not wasteful. Good point! #auddev
maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec I’m sure they will value something they know well and that means ‘touring’ artists cannot win #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger Great point, which is why #auddev is so important so they get to know!
maricarjagger In the case of the local pianist I do realise there’s an element of ‘who you know’ determining attendance. #auddev
RachealMc @audiencedevspec @RachealMc @maricarjagger I think we all need to be realistic about the economy & spending patterns. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec So the audience needs to perceive as valuable to them and see the value in the extra cost of the ticket. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec I do wish there were more standards for “professional” “amateur”. Being subjective, it may never happen. #auddev
maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec Are we saying that cultural offering need some longevity to afford time for audience development? #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger I’m not sure I completely understand your question. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec Join us for #auddev chat!
maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec Audience development needs time, right? #auddev
dloehr @AudienceDevSpec The reason my theatre co. uses “professional” is simply to distinguish between hobby & vocation. We also tour. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @melissaimpact Interesting, so now we have more labels in the mix. LOL! #auddev
RachealMc RT @audiencedevspec: I do wish there were more standards for “professional” “amateur”. Being subjective, it may never happen. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @dloehr Do we have a list to define professional vs. amateur though. Couldn’t an amateur company tour. If they get a little pay…#auddev
melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec While not a fan of over-labeling, I think this one fills a definite need & eliminates some confusion. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec I see some professional companies say they are community oriented, which also gets a little tricky. #auddev
maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec @dloehr So your definition is if this is your job (not hobby) then you are a professional? #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @melissaimpact Semi-pro is a label in the music world that is similar. #auddev
dloehr @AudienceDevSpec We tour outside of the region, though. Our community group is largely shop owners, people with day jobs… #auddev
melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec The trickiness lies in the polyvalence of the word “community,” here used in a diff way than “community thtr” #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger @dloehr Right now, people piece together their income, so if they are paid, could be one of their jobs. #auddev
dloehr @AudienceDevSpec …who can’t afford to take the time away from those jobs. #auddev
RachealMc RT @dloehr: @AudienceDevSpec The reason my theatre co. uses “professional” is simply to distinguish between hobby & vocation… #auddev
melissaimpact @dloehr @AudienceDevSpec Other issue is that many working at small thtrs of our own for no/low pay are pros working at larger thtrs #auddev
AudienceDevSpec MT @clydefitch: Often I feel amateur vs. professional = issue for professionals, not amateurs. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @clydefitch Really great point! #auddev
dloehr @AudienceDevSpec But we try to work with them whenever possible; there’s no class warfare here, just different goals. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @dloehr I know professionals that can’t afford it either. LOL! #auddev
melissaimpact @dloehr @AudienceDevSpec “Amateur” and “professional” are inaccurate when tied only to pay grade in the arts #auddev
AudienceDevSpec Here’s a monkey wrench, a professional could (and does sometimes) work for an “amateur” company. #auddev
dloehr @AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger I’m only talking about my town’s community group in terms of touring, btw. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @clydefitch You can use the #auddev hashtag. You have great points for everyone!
dloehr @melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec Right. #auddev
maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec @clydefitch It’s money and income, it’s close to everyone’s heart! #auddev
RachealMc RT @melissaimpact: @dloehr @AudienceDevSpec “Amateur” and “professional” are inaccurate when tied only to pay grade in the arts #auddev
AudienceDevSpec RT @clydefitch Also, what defines amateur/professional? Most professional actors don’t live off their work but never ID as amateur. #auddev
maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec @clydefitch If you trained for years and pay lots of money for college, do you want to earn less that the hobbyist? #auddev
AudienceDevSpec There are some groups in my town that claim to be pro, but quality wise, they really are not in MHO. #auddev
dloehr @melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec Tho I didn’t–and don’t–use the term “amateur.” #auddev
maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec I this case I have no quibble with them if they charge less for tix #auddev
AudienceDevSpec I think it is some of our perception that amateur are “stealing away” from professional that is the basis. Am I right? #auddev
melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec Not sure you can tie “professional” to quality-All it covers is whether this is your career as opposed to a hobby #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger We would need to first establish who is pro and am and then figure out pricing as an industry. #auddev
RachealMc @audiencedevspec as “Guest Artists” I would say almost all performers have done it here. #auddev
clydefitch @maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec Obviously not. I’m not celebrating the amateur vs. professional divide, I’m acknowledging it exists. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @melissaimpact However, there are “amateurs” that can produce professional work. #auddev
melissaimpact @dloehr @AudienceDevSpec Me neither–I think most thtr pros do not. It’s “professional,” “professionally-oriented,” and “community” #auddev
RachealMc @maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec @clydefitch When I interviewed Brian Dennehy, he said theatre school was… #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @melissaimpact I have performed in some “community” groups that were as good if not better than “professional” #auddev
maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec and that is difficult to establish and also regulate #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @melissaimpact Don’t they deserve to charge more then? #auddev
dloehr @melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec Yup. #auddev
RachealMc @maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec @clydefitch … the absolute worst thing an actor could do. #Auddev
AudienceDevSpec @melissaimpact Oh I agree about the label, but they could charge more because they are awesome! ;O) #auddev
maricarjagger @RachealMc @AudienceDevSpec @clydefitch In a sense you’re right, going to school doesn’t prove you have talents…#auddev
AudienceDevSpec @melissaimpact We were talking about ticket pricing in all this as well though. #auddev
melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec Pricing isn’t just abt quality or value–often we price low b/c we’re trying to remain accessible. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @RachealMc So the price of that “guest artist” ticket for the amateur group would go up. #auddev
melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec Pricing is about accessibility more than quality for most of us, I think #auddev
AudienceDevSpec RT @melissaimpact: @AudienceDevSpec Pricing is about accessibility more than quality for most of us, I think #auddev
melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec Big pro thtrs make a minority of income as earned, majority as contributed #auddev
RaymondMcNeel @clydefitch @AudienceDevSpec Per the Latin, an amateur does something for “the love”. (Oh, and Charlie Sheen is a professional.) #auddev
RachealMc @audiencedevspec generally, the prices would be the same. The company would budget for the extra costs. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger @melissaimpact So true! But then, this could make the ticket price equal to the amateur price. #auddev
maricarjagger @melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec Our prof concerts are accessible by ticket price, but not covering the full cost of the musicians #auddev
melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger Pricing more abt marketing than abt income for nonprofit thtrs–majority of their $ is contributed #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @clydefitch @rachealmc @maricarjagger Plus, amateur companies can be non-profit too. #auddev
melissaimpact @maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec That’s the case for almost every 501c3 arts org in the country. High price isn’t a marker of quality #auddev
melissaimpact @maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec Low price isn’t marker of amateur. Big co.s use a plethora of price pts, some very low for outreach #auddev
RachealMc @audiencedevspec @clydefitch @maricarjagger As can professional companies up here. #auddev
melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger Big LORTs use lprice pts equal to smaller co.s as part of various outreach efforts all the time #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @melissaimpact @maricarjagger So if the price isn’t an indication, which we have established, will the audience get it? LOL! #auddev
melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger Will they get what? #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @melissaimpact @maricarjagger The price is the same for both pro and ama. So, will they understand who is who? #auddev
clydefitch @rachealmc @AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger Curiously, it’s theatre that forever thrashes these issues. Er, amateur folk art, anyone? #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @melissaimpact @maricarjagger We may not see price as a distinguishing value, but our audiences might. #auddev
melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger I think that’s true to a certain extent, depending on the marketing & culture of the producing org #auddev
RachealMc RT @audiencedevspec: @melissaimpact @maricarjagger We may not see price as a distinguishing value, but our audiences might. #auddev
melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger Big co.s offer luxury exp at high price pt- better seats, etc– outreach at lower price pts. I think #auddev
Becca_E_Smith @RaymondMcNeel @clydefitch @AudienceDevSpec love that, but what abt pros? Is a pro in it for the $ or just some1 who gets paid? #auddev
melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger the marketing of the experience is key. Are you there for a luxury exp? Or are you there to #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @Becca_E_Smith @RaymondMcNeel @clydefitch That’s a new kettle of fish there! #auddev
maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec @clydefitch @rachealmc Ego aside I think the important issue here is whether a pro can compete in the marketplace #auddev
clydefitch @audiencedevspec @RachealMc @maricarjagger No more than boiling complex, nuanced socioeconomic trends to 140-word tweets. #auddev
RachealMc @audiencedevspec @clydefitch @maricarjagger @clydefitch I think ego plays in any industry. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger I think you just rang the ding, ding, ding bell with that one! #auddev
melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger see something cool you can share w/friends? The same big co can offer varying experiences #auddev
clydefitch @audiencedevspec @RachealMc @maricarjagger More seriously, for some it’s totally tied to ego. Others don’t fret about labels. #auddev
melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger A GREAT example of this kind of varied experience/varied price point is @berkeleyrep #auddev
melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec @maricarjagger This convo is so interesting, but I have to go teach! Loathe to leave you brilliant ppl. Thank you! #auddev
AudienceDevSpec I think @clydefitch is right. All labels aside, it is going to come down to what is great & what is good. #auddev
clydefitch @becca_e_smith @RaymondMcNeel @AudienceDevSpec I don’t think pro = monolithic mindset. Tho most people don’t turn down $, generally. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec It’s been a quick, intense and interesting hour at #auddev chat.
AudienceDevSpec Thank you to: @clydefitch @melissaimpact @RachealMc @maricarjagger @Becca_E_Smith @RaymondMcNeel @dloehr for stopping by! #auddev
maricarjagger @melissaimpact We can reconvene the conversation another time with @AudienceDevSpec #auddev
AudienceDevSpec Feel free to keep chatting at #auddev
AudienceDevSpec I will have a transcript of this conversation on my blog Monday morning. #auddev
maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec @clydefitch @melissaimpact @RachealMc @Becca_E_Smith @RaymondMcNeel @dloehr Thank you all for the eye-opener on #auddev
maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec Thanks for hosting! #auddev
Becca_E_Smith @AudienceDevSpec thanks for hosting! #auddev
AudienceDevSpec We know that professional and amateur are clearly challenging to define. Price is not the indicative factor either. #auddev
AudienceDevSpec What will ring true is not the labels, but the quality of the work. Everything else is merely technicality in MHO. #auddev ;O)
RachealMc @audiencedevspec @clydefitch @melissaimpact @RachealMc @maricarjagger @Becca_E_Smith @RaymondMcNeel @dloehr Thank you all! #auddev
AudienceDevSpec Whew! That was a fantastic conversation. We now return to our normal #auddev hashtag.
AudienceDevSpec .@maricarjagger Thank you for the topic! #auddev
AudienceDevSpec If you have a topic for #auddev chat, please contact me.
clydefitch Thanks to: @AudienceDevSpec @melissaimpact @RachealMc @maricarjagger @Becca_E_Smith @RaymondMcNeel #auddev #FF
maricarjagger @AudienceDevSpec Fascinating subject and I look forward to more #auddev sessions

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

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~James Stewart

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3 Comments

Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development

3 responses to “Audience development for the arts – #Auddev chat 3/23 – Professional/Amateur audience perceptions

  1. For my email subscribers, I did have a slight snafu with the original table format. Please click on the link to view online to see the complete conversation. Thank you for understanding!

  2. I agree that trying to define Pro/Am by qualitative outcome is futile, and as a consequence ticket pricing cannot be determined by pro/am status. There are some pretty awful ‘pro’ orchs out there and some brilliant ‘am’ and youth orchs. Years ago I began defining pro/am according to means: Pro = your full-time income from a full-time job, Am = you have something else that provides your primary income and consistently requires dedicated time. As a result I expect a lot more from pro’s but pay the same top $ for top quality, regardless of pro/am status.
    As for ego… well!

  3. Thank you for stopping by, Stephen.

    I know how difficult it would be set standards and quality control. The audience will find out rather quickly if the price of the ticket is worth it in either case (pro/am).

    However, the definition of professional is still murky since many musicians are now piecing together their lives to make a living, which means some outside work of some nature for the most part. Yet, I would still consider these musicians to be professional. Is there a percentage of pay scale set up to work out this definition?

    Here’s the bigger issue, which I mentioned in a past blog: https://audiencedevelopment.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/audience-development-and-quality/

    The perceived quality of a “professional” organization can actually play a part in ruining the arts experience for an audience member. If the quality is not there, they may feel that “professional” is a bunch of malarkey, and this perception could carry over to the arts in general. When organizations dub themselves as professional, people expect a higher quality to go with it. It is sad when some of these “professional” organizations/artist do not deliver, which ruins it for the ones that do.

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