Audience survey 2014

A     Introduction

1            We decided to develop a survey whose aim would be to give us a much more systematic and complete picture of concertgoers’ behaviour, likes and dislikes than we at present have. The survey was about how to maximise numbers at concerts: it did not address ways of increasing our annual income, other than by selling more tickets and by attracting more Members and Patrons.

2            We administered the survey to all audience members at the final concert (the Elias String Quartet on Sunday 14 September 2014). We came away with 146 usable responses (including 71 from Ms & Ps), about 75% of the roughly 195 people in the church that day. This is a very high response rate, itself a good sign. The data itself gives us a richer and more precise store of information in facing the future than the shared (though probably well-informed) guesswork we have used until now.

B     Areas asked about

Home postcode

*If any concerts missed this season, how many, and what were the reasons?

*What features of our concerts do you specially value?

*What kinds of music do you like to hear at Cratfield?

*What was the main way in which you found out about our 2014 season?

How many Concerts at Cratfield seasons have you now attended?

Are you a Member, Patron or neither?

[Questions marked * gave a list of possible responses, from which each respondent could select one or more]

C     The key results

3            Most of our audience members come from an area of not more than an hour’s drive from Cratfield; only small numbers are keen enough to come further. Efforts to reach potential new audience members beyond that area may not be fruitful, though of course our website has a universal reach already, if more could find us by that route.

4            A quarter of all respondents attended all 2014 concerts, 40% of the Members & Patrons in the survey having done so. When we asked those who had missed some concerts this year for their reasons, these seemed overwhelmingly to do with concertgoers themselves (busy that day or not in the area). Very few reported that they were not attracted by the music or by the type of ensemble of any concerts. Encouragingly, not one respondent mentioned ticket prices as relevant to their views on any of the issues in the survey.

5            We have an audience which reports a broad liking for almost any type of classical or post-classical chamber music which we could think of offering: more than half the whole pool of respondents said they ‘specially liked’ most types of concert in the list. Our audience also has commitment and staying power: almost two-thirds of respondents had attended more than six previous seasons’ concerts.

6            The survey responses also seem a strong vote of confidence in the key considerations which guide the construction of each season’s concerts:

  • A significant number of young performers
  • A wide variety of composers and of ensembles, every season including at least one string quartet and piano trio – piano quartets and quintets are liked almost to the same extent
  • Occasional concerts of other ensembles: violin or cello and piano duos, solo piano, vocal and early music
  • Some works in most programmes which will be unfamiliar to many or most concertgoers, including by living or not well-known composers
  • Better-known ‘core repertoire’ works by ‘big names’ to provide the glue to hold each concert together.

7            The overwhelming majority of respondents had found out about the 2014 season by being on our mailing-list. However, of those for whom 2014 was their first Cratfield season, word of mouth from those who are already regular concertgoers seems to have worked well – though we do not have easy ways of mobilising this ourselves. The other methods we use, hoping to reach potential new audience members, do not seem very effective, though at least we are not spending significant sums annually on these.

Philip Britton

19 October 2014

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