Black Theatre Live end of 1st year

1 December 2015

Black Theatre Live aims to effect a long-term transformation for Black and Asian theatre through national touring, audience and sector development. This is the driving ambition of the Black Theatre Live consortium. pre-requisite of the Black Theatre Live programme is rigorous 360 degree evaluation focused on the artistic excellence of the tours and the impact of the shows on the varied regional audiences and the wider theatre sector.

The 8 FOUNDING REGIONAL THEATRES in Black Theatre Live was set out to be purposefully eclectic, a mix of:

  • urban and rural locations
  • producing and receiving houses
  • ACE NPO-funded and non-NPO theatres
  • mid and small-scale theatres

theatres located among predominantly White populations and diverse Black and Asian communities.

The Black Theatre Live theatres in Northumberland, Suffolk, Derby, London, Margate, Peterborough and Poole each have something to say and offer their audiences about the excellence in diversity of Black and Asian touring theatre.

The key question of the evaluation centres on what impact the BLACK THEATRE LIVE TOURS will have on audiences and for the national touring sector over the initial 3 years? If we aim to be at the vanguard as an exemplar of excellent practice how will we know we have achieved this? This is the function of the comprehensive 360 degree evaluation.

To clarify each of the productions commissioned by Black Theatre Live is chosen jointly by the Artistic Directors the 8 venues commit programme dates before opening out to the wider touring sector.

The Black Theatre Live cohort of venues long-term commitment and investment is backed centrally by a range of tailored audience development strategies:

  • Community participation workshop residences and outreach distribution through Street Teams
  • Support of a press agent & target marketing campaigns and budgets
  • Accessible performances including Stage Text
  • Digital distribution including live-streaming and in time cinema relay
  • Data capture, analyses and audience intelligence
  • Independent academic research and reports

The audience development is delivered in partnership with a range of industry SPECIALISTS: Mobius PR, the Audience Agency, Hardish Virk, Stage Text, Pilot Theatre and Kings College (London).

The 360 degree evaluation framework focuses on the impact of the tours across 3 critical areas: Artistic, Social and Economic.

Focused on the long-term aspiration of Black Theatre Live and each touring show in turn, the framework uses quantitative industry benchmarks (including AUDIENCE FINDER, UK THEATRE sales report statistics and the ONS 2011 CENSUS demographics) as comparators to validate and challenge what the tours box office and audience demographics report.

The evaluation will be matched alongside each of the venues own objectives.

The statistical evidence will be coupled with qualitative feedback from regional audiences, the Artistic Directors, the artists and companies, press and academic researchers.

Taken together the mix quantitative and qualitative approaches will be crucial to enriching our understanding of the impact of the Black Theatre Live programme over the short, medium and long-term.

As we come to the end of the first years programme, there are some initial early quantitative headlines.

  • 2 national tours commissioned: Macbeth on the mid-scale; She Called Me Mother on the small-scale
  • 84 performances nationally
  • 11,782 tickets sold
  • An additional 14 regional theatres programmed the 2 Black Theatre Live commissioned tours because of the 8 consortium venues collective support
  • 71% aggregate capacity across both tours at Black Theatre Live theatres (*66% national average)
  • 53% aggregate capacity across both tours at all other theatres (*50% national average)
  • Over 70 Black & Asian tours and 90 companies profiled with Black Theatre Live
  • 40 emerging Black and Asian companies engaged at the first tour development symposium *UK Theatre report 2014

As the ongoing story of Black Theatre Live evolves and the evaluation is enlarged we will continue to share the FINDINGS HERE, making it freely available for others to draw from. This is just the beginning of the story.

Jonathan Kennedy, Executive Director, Tara Arts