Digital allows us to be responsive on a budget

This year Theatre Centre have embraced the opportunity that digital presents us to be responsive. Being a small touring theatre company working with young people, with a team of just five core staff, keeping up with digital can often be a struggle and it’s easy to feel overshadowed by the slick production values mightier budgets proffer larger arts organisations. Nevertheless, with over 60 years experiences touring to schools and venues across the country, often where there are little access or no to the arts, the size of our organisation is no representation of the scale and reach of what we’re able to achieve.

Working in schools and venues since 1953, we have widespread connections across the UK with teachers, students and audiences which allows us to quickly get projects off the ground and get participants engaged. Our mission is to empower young leadership and youth activism, so when the snap election was called in April, we had a small window of opportunity to swiftly get into classrooms and youth groups and talk to young people about the role they play in shaping our country’s future. The project aimed to encourage young people to register and vote, ignite an interest in politics and democracy and promote Theatre Centre’s mission and work with a wider audience.

Over one week we worked with renowned Spoken Word artist Mr Gee (presenter of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Bespoken Word’ and ‘Rhyme and Reason’) to develop a crowdsourced poem, showcasing the voices and opinions of young people across the country. Working with two schools in Durham and a youth theatre group in Stratford, within 5 days we were able to run the spoken word workshops, film and edit the poems and share our work online. The result was #BallotBeats https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzcW1xgjg3w

The subsequent engagement and reaction was phenomenal. Our video and tweets from our account during the week garnered over 40,000 impressions, compared to our usual 1,000. Modest for some but remarkable for us, bringing attention to our cause and introducing Theatre Centre to new audiences online. The video was shared by the likes of poets Hollie McNish and Sabrina Mahfouz, previous Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and even by Russell Brand to an astonishing 12.2 million followers.

Why the contribution is important

As a touring theatre company, without a real life ‘venue’ of our own for audiences to visit, it’s useful to see digital platforms as our stage. We can make this digital space as fun, exciting and welcoming as our physical venue might be, where our doors are always open - a place for our audiences to gather, converse, be engaged and get an instant sense of what we’re about and how they can be a part of it.

For very little spend, #BallotBeats put Theatre Centre on the radar of hundreds of new audience members, helped elevate the voices of the young people we work with, as well as giving us the confidence to forge forward with projects that have a digital focus

by TheatreCentre on July 28, 2017 at 12:06PM

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Comments

  • Posted by DeeIshani July 28, 2017 at 14:34

    This is of course fantastic but it's worth saying that it worked because it was a well devised project. It's just a warning that without the good planning and well chosen partnerships shown here, a repeat or copycat may not have similar success.

    The key takeaway for me is that this helped build confidence and that will both help and allow more experimentation. The only trouble is if the same results are expected time and time again.
  • Posted by willpsaunders August 09, 2017 at 16:00

    I'm keen to understand what you learnt from this project and how you might now want to scale that success. Are you planning other digital first projects soon?
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