Survey bid to boost numbers

ORANGE Civic Theatre staff face a moral dilemma after recording a $30,000 loss on contracted productions.

Contracted productions are those included in the subscription season, which are paid to come to Orange.

They do not include productions by Orange theatre companies.

In 2012 there were 15 contracted productions. 

Overall the theatre finished 2012 with a profit of $46,827, raised from events such as the City of Orange Eisteddfod, conferences and receptions held at the venue. 

Council provides about $238,000 annually to operate the theatre. 

Theatre staff aim for about 70 per cent attendance for contracted shows, but only received an average of 58 per cent attendance in 2012.

Events manager Michelle Pearce said the figures presented a challenge for the staff.

“It’s the shows we bring here that are the challenge. Do we just bring the mainstream ones that we know will have good attendance?” she said.

“We had 19 shows last year and, out of those, 15 we brought here and took that risk.”

Mrs Pearce said the theatre wanted to book shows straight out of production, which were a little challenging or on the fringe.

She said you could not put a dollar value on a production.

Mrs Pearce said she did not know where the losses occurred, but encouraged people to complete a survey throughout the year so they could better manage the situation.

“We can consider booking fewer shows, but is that what our audience wants?” she asked.

“Should we be buying commercial product? Is it the cost?”

Mrs Pearce says staff try hard to book shows that are edgy and dynamic.

“Wouldn’t it be sad if we didn’t present it?” she said.

Despite the loss on contracted shows, the theatre is still economically viable.

However, Mrs Pearce said it was important council was  made aware of the issue so they could have an opportunity to have their say.

“How can you measure the value of a program?” she asked.

“I encourage everyone to contact us to have their say on the survey.”

* The survey was mailed out over the last few weeks to a snapshot of people who bought tickets through Ticketek last year.

Every fifth person received one, however, any person who wishes to respond to the survey can contact the theatre and one will be sent out.

The survey is based solely on the theatre.

“For example, would you prefer to spend money to go and watch live music at the pub rather than see a show at the theatre?” Ms Pearce said.

“It’s about how Orange Theatre Company rates as a level of importance in that spend.”

The survey also asks participants to compare the theatre with others across the country.

nicole.kuter@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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