Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Cheung Fai. I’m the Associate Artistic Director for Franco Dragone Entertainment Group.

You are in EARS on Shanghai to talk about making the connection. What is your topic about?

I’m trying to give insight and tell about my experiences on how to connect with new audiences. I’m working with performing arts, theater, music and dance and I think that the existing audience in the field is too narrow. If you keep on connecting with the existing audience only it’s not enough. More people should see your work. We need to expand the audience base. We have to find the ways to get new people into the theater. It’s very difficult but I think it could be done.

What, do you think, is the most important target audience for theater?

Young people. I think it’s very important to get really young generations especially into theater. Particularly when they are aged between 20 to 25 they are open to new things. Most of them are students, so they have free time, some money and they want to do something new. If they start going to the theater at that age it may become a habit and they may do it for the rest of their life. If they don’t go to theater at that age, after they graduate and get a job, they are busy and might never go to see theater. I think that it’s very critical that we get in touch with them early.

Theater people could learn a lot from business people

How do you get the new audience in to theater?

There are many tricks actually. I think theater people could learn a lot from business people. Performing arts used to be very artistic and was seen that it had nothing to do with business, management or marketing. But the times have changed. If you are selling tickets, it’s a business. Nowadays also in the performing arts field you have to think about your market and your marketing strategy, pricing and promotion. We need a lot of innovation in marketing for theater. You have to find your target audience and find the way to promote to them. You need to shape your product for your target audience in the way that it’s attractive to them but so that you can still keep your artistic vision in it. Unlike writing a poem in your house or doing a painting by yourself, theater is something that belongs to the community. When you are on stage, you have a group of people in front of you and you have to speak to them.

We need more innovations to the marketing of performing arts in order to connect with new audiences

I think we need more innovations to the marketing of performing arts in order to connect with new audiences, particularly in China. In other big cities, like in New York, a good portion of the population are theater goers. They go to cinema, they go to see a dance performance. They might do it once a week or once a month, but it’s a part of their life. But in China there is a very low percentage of the population who are theater goers. We really need to expand this percentage and that’s why we need to connect with the new audience. In business terms that’s the blue ocean, within those people we see that new market. The hardest part is to get the first new customers come.

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