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Been to a Show Lately? The Flynn Wants to Hear About It

State of the Arts


Published March 18, 2009 at 9:22 a.m.

Surveymonkey is popping up all over these days. And no wonder: The online tool is a handy way for those with a modicum of web savvy to design and analyze their own surveys — for free. For anyone who needs to find out what their customers, clients, patrons or friends are thinking, it’s a godsend.

Even so, Flynn Center subscribers may have been a little surprised to receive a sudden invitation to this year.

Since January, Flynn marketing director Leigh Chandler has been emailing ticket holders after every show they attend, asking them to click a link and answer a few questions. “We wanted to get feedback on what people think of our shows — and to get a handle on who the audience is, too,” she explains. “We sort of guess at who’s coming to which genre.”

Soliciting reactions to a performance helps the Flynn decide whether to bring back the show, or something like it. Basic demographic data on audiences — such as gender, age and income bracket — also help Chandler target her marketing more effectively. Specifically, she hopes to “send out fewer pieces to the people most likely to buy” rather than bombarding everyone with repeat announcements of each show. Sending fewer mailers is more eco-friendly — and, more to the point, cost-effective. Especially during an economic downturn, arts organizations need to conserve every penny.

So far, a satisfying number of patrons have answered Chandler’s questions, even though “there’s no incentive,” she points out. “Anything over 25 percent is good, but we’re getting as much as 50, 75 percent.” She notes people generally “seem happy to share what they think.”

While most of the feedback has been favorable, people do sometimes send negative comments. “Not everyone understood Cirque Eloize,” Chandler admits of the somewhat Fellini-esque show Nebbia, performed last month by Montréal’s circus-arts group. The Flynn might think twice about booking Eloize again, she says, “or at least think about how we market them.”

Chandler notes that the demographics for certain shows are predictable, but she’s most interested in examining “the cross-genre stuff.” Say, females of a certain age and income who like fado, Shakespeare and puppets? Good luck analyzing that data.