The Czech capital Prague and the charming rural town of Litomyšl, both bathed in glorious June sunshine, proved ideal locations for up to 300 Opera Europa members to renew friendships and engage in voluble debate about what needed to be done to regenerate audiences for opera.
The conference was also successful in integrating the contributions of our Marketing & Communications forum and of the newly formed Dramaturgy forum. A few insights are included below, but more detail about presentations may be found in the Documents Centre.
Marketing creates communities. It’s about the 3 C’s – Commitment, Conversation and Community. Icelandic Opera
We are working on reweaving the numbers of productions and performances to satisfy the real audience demand. Teatro alla Scala Milano
Our financial model means we cannot reduce the number of performances without incurring significant financial impact. Royal Opera House Covent Garden London
It has been an opportunity to reconnect with our cultural ecosystem. We look for experiment and bridges between art forms, multiple mediums and artists from non-operatic backgrounds. Dutch National Opera & Ballet Amsterdam
2023 proceeds as originally budgeted with no reduction on earned income. And 2023 will actually deliver a significant increase on earned income compared with pre-pandemic levels. This is because the whole Royal Theatre is in the midst of a growth strategy which seeks to grow audiences across the theatre by 100,000 per annum by 2023, from a 2017 benchmark. We are on track to deliver that, achieving record breaking sales in 2021/22 (once the pandemic cancellations due to the short lockdown are accounted for). Royal Danish Theatre Copenhagen
We do not see online programming as a means to create extra income, but as a means to expand our outreach and build our brand. Dutch National Opera & Ballet Amsterdam
We speak more about the live experience and the human contact in the theatre, more than about the production even. GöteborgsOperan
The brand conversation relies on a long term strategy and is less focused on a specific show. Théâtre du Châtelet Paris
Each Euro that is spent on marketing is spent on building and valuing your brand and means of existence – no one spreads the word for opera, we have to do that! Komische Oper Berlin
Finding new and effective ways to regenerate audiences was at the heart of the Prague conference and one session offered the unique opportunity for participants from all levels of their organisations to participate in a brainstorming session with the central question: ‘What can we do to reactivate audiences?’.
Small groups reflected on the question, who were then merged into larger groups resulting in a number of ideas including the ones below:
■ Foster closer collaboration early on between the various departments to optimise programming and communication strategies.
■ Diversify the audience experience around the performances through available channels and events.
■ Develop personal and custom contact with the audiences allowing theatres to boost loyalty and target new audiences.
■ Demystify opera for first time audiences with advance communication, storytelling and post-performance follow up.
■ Include different genres into performances (fashion, visual art, …) in order to reach audiences outside the world of opera.
■ Open up theatre spaces allowing access to the building for other purposes than opera.
The Marketing & Communications forum will continue to work on these ideas in future meetings.