Considering the mix of Queensland presenters is an important step in preparing for Queensland Touring Showcase. Discover what presenters are looking for, which communities are they representing and what are the pressures affecting their decision-making.
Showcase is designed to maximise opportunities for productions that meet the programming needs of Managed Venues. Roadcase is an extension of the Showcase process that is designed specifically for regional councils, volunteer arts councils, and regional festivals.
Producers attending Showcase will need to come prepared to negotiate dates, fees and engagement opportunities directly with presenters. These discussions will lay the early groundwork necessary to confirm tours more efficiently in the weeks and months after Showcase.
Managed venues have varying sized entrepreneurial budgets and are sometimes business units within their local council. They generally include a diverse mix of art forms in their annual programs.
Most managed venues in Queensland are members of Stage Queensland (formally NARPACA), and so are sometimes referred to as Stage Queensland Venues. Stage Queensland is the peak body for performing arts centres in Queensland and supports a vibrant network of members to provide quality arts and cultural experiences to their communities.
Many of these venues are positioned along Queensland’s east coast and include centres such as Tanks in Cairns, Pilbeam Theatre in Rockhampton and the Empire Theatre in Toowoomba. View the full list of managed venues.
A number of these centres have large proscenium arch theatres with 800 plus seats, others are slightly smaller with 400-800 seats. There is only a handful with smaller studio spaces between 120 - 300 seats.
This broad range of styles and sizes mean presenters from managed venues are looking for:
- An eclectic mix of shows for different spaces and variety of audience types.
- A clear ‘hook’ to help appeal to their audience or council aligned strategies; whether that be affordability, great audience appeal, tourist attracting or new audiences to the region.
- Professional marketing materials that can easily adapted for local marketing campaigns.
- Significant and clear engagement opportunities that add value to the community’s experience.
- High quality cultural experiences with broader community benefit and legacy outcomes.
It's worth taking the time to look through some of the program guides from these venues to become better acquainted with their programming style. Visit their websites or check out issuu.com where many venues publish their programs online.
Managed venues generally have a small marketing team, and in some cases the venue manager handles the marketing as well as their other duties. Most managed venues launch their annual program in November or December with a launch event and printed brochure. TV is often a key part of the marketing mix as TV advertising is cost effective in regional Queensland. Publicity, printed collateral and social media are all considered a valuable part of the mix and venues actively seek engaging content to share through social media. Managed venues have good access to their audience data through their ticketing system and distribute regular e-newsletters.
Local councils are an important part of the touring network within Queensland. They are using touring productions as a way to activate local community spaces and audiences, develop skills and foster creative opportunities for local performers.
All of Queensland’s local council’s participate in the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF); a contestable fund supported by Queensland Government, which helps stimulate local arts and cultural activities. Some councils also use RADF to present touring work for their communities as long as it meets their locally determined objectives.
These objectives vary but generally local councils look for touring work that offers some or all of the following:
- Significant community engagement opportunities
- Attracts tourists and new audiences to the region
- Broader community benefit and legacy outcomes
- Affordable with great audience appeal
- High quality cultural experience
There are a few things to keep in mind when approaching local councils:
- Events often presented free or significantly subsidised
- Marketing capacity is generally limited and can be subject to various internal approvals
- Beholden to budget cycles so smaller lead times are common
- If making a significant investment in a project they may need full council approval before proceeding
- Generally lean to work that is appropriate for all ages within the community
Some of the most popular tours for local councils recently have been residency-style projects that enable locals to be directly involved in the performance outcome. These projects celebrate local characters and stories, consistently appealing to a broader base within the community.
Local Council event marketing is usually coordinated by the Arts/Cultural Development Officer and distribution is often managed by the council communications team, so be mindful to allow plenty of time for approvals etc. It’s useful to provide template or print ready artwork for collateral that can easily be printed internally at council. They have the advantage of being able to promote events in councils printed newsletter, however are limited in being able to communicate through enewsletters due strict comms guidelines or lack of audience data. There is a mix of social media access so it’s good to check what’s available. While there may not be a large marketing budget to expend councils are able to activate networks and connect with local groups.
Arts Councils (Community Presenters)
Arts Councils are committees of like-minded volunteers who organise social and cultural activities for their communities. They have been an integral part of Queensland’s touring framework for decades and responsible for many of the shows that tour to rural and remote towns.
These committees work tirelessly to raise the funds needed to buy in touring productions and are responsible for all elements of presenting the work including, marketing, ticketing, hiring venues, organising staff and looking after the artists. Generally they need to break even on every production or in order to take on the next show.
The productions they look out for are:
- High quality
- Flexible and self contained
- Affordable with great audience appeal
- Quick and easy to bump in and out
Arts Councils tend to use local spaces like town halls, community centres or social clubs to present the work. These venues vary in size, resources, staffing and production capability so touring productions should expect to bring everything they need to be self-sufficient.
Most significantly, arts councils are run by volunteers who often work on these activities after hours and on weekends. They may be unable to take on large engagement activities in addition to presenting the show and require extra marketing support leading up to the show.
For marketing Arts Councils generally rely on traditional printed collateral and strong relationships with media (particularly ABC) to promote events. There is a varying mix of Facebook activity and any pre-written posts are always appreciated. Arts Councils tend to get creative with below the line marketing such as activating vacant shop windows, themed op shop displays and calling around to drum word of mouth about an event. Tickets are almost always sold on the door so access to audience data is extremely limited. Any additional support touring groups can provide with print ready posters and flyers, actively pitching to media and promoted Facebook events is always welcomed by Arts Councils.