The perennial grumbling from producers about dwindling numbers in the auditorium may be traced down to a flaw in their relationship with patrons. Many theatre groups have no profile of their customers. Consequently, they have little clue of what to offer them or what it takes to keep them coming back and build on the numbers.
The occasional post-show mingling with only some patrons over a drink may be enjoyable, particularly when expressions of admiration are plentiful. But it is seldom useful in capturing the pulse of the larger audience. In this age of ICT advances, it should now be possible to relate with just about each and every one of our patrons and benefit from their insights on a regular basis. It is strange that most theatre groups do not even have an email address, let alone operate a website. Both of these tools are available for free on the internet. That only a handful of theatre groups are putting them to use is a humbling indictment of our ‘artistic’ aptitude.
Without constant interaction with patrons, development of all theatrical aspects will remain stunted. Artistes need to set themselves free from this warp, set up websites, activate discussion forums therein, send regular email updates, link up with other practitioners and catch up with e-commerce.