Audience Research Assistant – Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

With a background in drama, I was excited to be given the opportunity to contribute to the day to day running of a highly-regarded producing theatre as part of my Arts Management, Policy and Practice course.

The title of my placement role was Audience Research Assistant working within the Marketing and Communications team. Having no formal marketing experience, I was particularly interested in this opportunity because it not only gave me this exciting access to the theatre, but required  having to learn lots of new skills, especially how to use the Box Office system, Tessitura.

The main objective of my role was to assist in the day to day activities of the department. This included day to day admin tasks such as requesting and drafting actor biographies for inclusion in the programme, planning distribution proposals – using the marketing campaign to suggest where to target promotion of each show – and updating customer information and mailing list data.

Being part of the Marketing and Communications team also enabled me to observe the variety of other things that also go on behind the scenes in a busy producing theatre. I especially enjoyed getting a sneak pre-view into the more artistic side of the theatre, such as attending cast ‘meet and greets’ and design meetings with directors. Although these meetings were interesting, I could also see how it was important for the marketing team to have a fully understanding of the direction of a show in order to effectively promote it.

I also really enjoyed working press nights where I represented the theatre in the Box Office, issuing tickets to VIPs and invited guests. This was a fun task as there was always an atmosphere of excitement in anticipation of the new show, with the added perk of a ticket to the show.

I was please at the level of responsibility and freedom I was given and having been trained to use the Box Office system, I then had the skills necessary to embark on my own research project. Using the data already stored in Tessitura to establish a set of statistics that can be used to inform future marketing campaigns, such as how many new bookers came for a show last season from certain areas of Manchester and any trends in their attendance.

I have really enjoyed getting to know the people at the theatre and having gained this valuable experience will hopefully go on to working in a theatre after graduating.