Programming is refers to the process of an Arts Centre /Theatre making the decision about what productions / concerts /events that will be presented at their Arts Centre to their community.
It is important then to have an understanding of your community (audience) and what programming has occurred in the past and then what is your artistic vision / goals going forward. As many programming decisions may be part of a longer term plan.
Example: Introducing an annual children’s season may take three years to build an audience and for the community to be aware of what this program is.
Ask yourself the following question:
- How many people in my community are in this demographic. Research data of demographics and community profile at: http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/censushome.nsf/home/communityprofiles
For many regional presenters, access to resources (human and financial) and geographical distance have meant that programming their venues is a challenging prospect.
Many Art Centres do not have the opportunity to see works first-hand or develop relationships with individual performing arts companies. Curating a program for their audiences can be daunting and confusing and often programmers don’t know where to start. Being part of Circuit West and other industry bodies can provide connection with colleagues to share information and discuss programming choices with other like minded venues.
Other useful organisations for regional presenters are:
- the Australian Performing Arts Centres Association (APACA) http://www.apaca.com.au and
- Country Arts WA https://www.countryartswa.asn.au/
Refer to Audience Connect Programming Guide for a detailed on how to program / write a program plan
Key Points to remember:
- Know your audience – survey / talk to them ask them what they would like to be on at your Theatre / Arts Centre
- Be aware of the demographics of your community (age/ ethnicity etc)
- Be aware what else is happening in your community eg does the RSL present a music program
- Ask yourself what is your Artistic Aim for your community /audience – how does this link into greater outcomes of the organisation you work for eg in the Local Government context what is in the Strategic Plan that can be reflected in the Art Centre’s performing arts programming vision
- Set a program plan (artistic vision / guideline / policy)on how you will achieve this. Even if it is not a public document this then allows you to have direction of the journey / process you want to take the audience
- Build relationships with key groups locally from dance schools, amateur musical societies, Rotary, other clubs and groups
- Build relationships / networks with other presenters / producers / companies
- Understand your budgets so as you are aware realistic what you can do – as many new initiatives take time (years) to build an audience and to become sustainable financial (and many never do but still have very strong outcomes)
- Source other funding / financial business partners / community partners if need
- Allow for you programming vision to be flexible to move with the community as the needs change and programming needs to be able to adapt.