Spektrix Conference 2019

Theatre is not a fridge: reflections on 'product-ing' theatre in arts marketing practice

Theatre is not a fridge: Reflections on 'product-ing' theatre in arts marketing practice

4.15pm - 4.45pm

This energising, thought-provoking session will challenge how theatre is ‘packaged’ in dominant marketing and communications practice in the arts sector. Arts marketer, audience researcher and academic Emma McDowell will explore the tendency for theatre and performance to be treated like white goods from a marketing, sales and fundraising perspective, and what this means for audiences.
Drawing on the latest thinking in cognitive science, marketing and audience research and her own professional experience working in theatre, Emma will reflect on how audiences make meaning from theatrical experiences. This session will ask questions like: How and why do we treat theatre like a fridge? How might arts marketing help to (re)connect the audience and artist? Should we reconsider the role of marketing in arts and cultural organisations? There will also be the opportunity for further discussions on how we might develop a more reflexive and creative practice as arts professionals and leaders.


  • Emma McDowell - PhD Researcher, School of Performance & Cultural Industries, University of Leeds & freelance producer/arts marketer

Key Takeaways

  • Space to challenge some of the assumptions we make on behalf of our audiences in our communications activity

  • Key findings from the latest research on how we make meaning from our cultural experiences

  • Ideas on how we might reframe our thinking about marketing in arts and cultural organisations