release: June 12, 2000
The League of Washington Theatres Announces Results of Landmark Study of Greater Metropolitan Washington, DC Theatre Audience
---Study funded by Shugoll Research and The Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation---
The League of Washington Theatres has just completed Washington Audiences: 2000 and Beyond, the largest theatre audience survey ever undertaken outside of New York. The study was conducted by Shugoll Research, Bethesda, Maryland, and funded jointly by the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation and Shugoll
Research. All Washington-area theatres that mounted productions in 1999-2000 were invited to participate. Of the 35 theatres with productions running, 30 participated in the survey. A total of 6,965 questionnaires were completed.
The study was designed to provide baseline data on who attends theatre in the Washington area. Future studies will be conducted in three-year intervals to track how audiences are changing. The current study profiles theatre attendees, their attitudes towards the theatre, and their theatre-going habits, in an effort to determine whether or not they attend theatre on a regular basis, what attracts them to the theatre, if they attend with their families, and how they obtain performance information.
The collected research will help the League better understand the Washington area theatre-going public-for instance, by identifying the different as well as overlapping demographics of persons who attend Washington's downtown theatres, the theatres along the 14th Street corridor, and those in more suburban areas-and to jointly develop strategies to increase attendance at all area theatres.
A Map for the
Future of Washington Theatre
"Armed with the information gathered through this study, we can work together as a theatre community to create programs which will increase and diversify our audiences," Ann Norton, president of the League of Washington Theatres explains. "We will be partnering-as we do with our audience development program, Stages
for All Ages-to develop a new generation of theatre-lovers in the Washington area."
"When the League of Washington Theatres, supported by The Washington Post, started the Stages for All Ages program in 1999 (offering one free ticket to a young person for each adult ticket purchased dring a two-month period), we quickly realized that, as a community, we all had a feel for our audiences-but that feeling was based on intuition and observation," continues Norton.
"Many of the larger theatres had conducted market research, but even they couldn't comprehend the whole picture. And smaller theatres only had observation and anecdotal evidence to determine the nature of their audiences. We were stymied until Beth Hautple of The Shakespeare Theatre suggested that the League conduct
a comprehensive market study of the entire theatre-going population. That way, we would be able to see the big picture, and each member of the League would also learn how they fit into the puzzle. Shugoll Research, a firm deeply committed to the arts community, and the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, a Washington-based foundation also intensely committed to the
arts, joined forces to fund this study. The Washington theatre community is deeply grateful for their support. Armed with these data, we can see where our successes are and where work is needed. In fact, I've discovered that the comprehensive picture is not just a snapshot of where Washington theatre is today, but also a map of where the League has to take it in the future. Stages for All Ages is just the first step."
"Besides the composite picture of the total theatre-going community presented here today, over the next month, each theatre will receive its own audience data along with a customized report, prepared by Shugoll Research. And that report, in itself, will speak volumes to each individual theatre," concluded Norton.
A Sampling of Key Findings
Like the landmark study "The Audience for New York Theatre: A Profile for the Broadway and Off-Broadway 1997 Theatre Season," conducted by Audience Research and Analysis for the Theatre Development Fund in 1998, the League of Washington Theatres' survey encompassed theatres of all sizes, ensuring as thorough a study as possible.
- The mean age of theatregoers is 44.8 years.
- Theatregoers are 83% white; 17% non-white
- 25% of theatregoers reside in Washington, DC, 32% in Virginia, and 43% in Maryland.
- 71% of theatregoers with children take their children to the theatre, 36% of them take them to the theatre three or more times a year.
- 58% of parents with children under 18 at home say that their children have gone to the theatre with a school group in the last year.
- 56% of theatregoers say that, as part of attending the theatre, they dine at a restaurant before the performance.
- While 89% of theatregoers have Internet access either at home or work, only 5% learned of the performance they attended through the Internet. The main source of theatre information is The Washington Post (30%) and word of mouth from friends and acquaintances (24%).
- 39% of theatregoers subscribe to at least one Washington area theatre.
The League of Washington Theatres is an association of nonprofit professional theatres in the greater Washington area. The League was established in 1982 to create greater public awareness, appreciation, and support for theatre in the Washington area. For almost 20 years, the members of the League have been at the center of an exciting, expanding, nationally acclaimed theatre community. The League encompasses a total of 43 members: 37 producing theatres and 6 affiliates. The League received The Washington Post Award for Distinguished Community Service at the 1999 Helen Hayes Awards for its Stages for All Ages program.
A report of key findings and the accompanying graphs are available below in PDF format.
Note: Use Acrobat Reader to download these documents.
Graphs Study Participants