Advertise with us
Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   JOIN
Backstage: The TBA Blog
Blog Home All Blogs
Welcome to Backstage: The TBA Blog! This is the place for Theatre Bay Area announcements, info on upcoming events, grant deadlines, ticket giveaways, shout-outs and special profiles of featured members. Visit early and often!


Search all posts for:   


Top tags: Featured Member  Acting  Annual Conference  Community Events  #tbacon15  ATLAS Program  TBA Awards  TBA general auditions  actor  Membership  advocacy  BOB14  playwright  audience development  Auditions  casting  casting director  Director  Executive Director's Note  Gender Parity  volunteer  #tbacon14  arts education  auditor  Glickman Award  Intrinsic Impact  Titan Award  BAPAS  internship  marketing 

From the Executive Director: Bulls-Eye

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, January 12, 2016
By Brad Erickson

“Free Beer Fridays.” Parties every night—on stage, with the actors in costume. These were a couple of the eye-popping audience engagement techniques that kept a packed breakout room of 130 attendees of the recent National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) Conference scribbling in their electronic notepads. Holding the room on the edge of its seat were the featured speakers on the panel I was moderating: Lisa Mallette, producing artistic director of City Lights Theater Company of San Jose (also chair of TBA’s Theatre Services Committee and a Theatre Bay Area board member) and Cathleen O’Malley, director of audience engagement and media relations at the Cleveland Public Theatre. 

It wasn’t just that Lisa and Cathleen are dynamic speakers (they are), or that the strategies they’ve launched at their companies are working (they are); it was more the subtle yet radical philosophical shift these two theatres have executed that so captivated the NAMP attendees. City Lights and Cleveland Public have made a decisive commitment to put audience engagement at the center of mission and strategy, and that change is remaking their audiences—and their companies. 

As Cathleen, Lisa and I prepared for our session (entitled “Flipping the Audience Engagement Paradigm: Transforming your Arts Organization”), I was struck by how similar the tactics are that these two theatres have developed. Hailing from opposite sides of the country, City Lights and Cleveland Public have articulated an identical goal: to more deeply engage more people from their communities in what they view as the life-changing work on their stages. With this new measure of success, City Lights and Cleveland Public have invented analogous rafts of strategies to meet their objective. 

Both theatres have realized that “audience engagement” is not an activity that can be assigned to one wing of the company: namely, the marketing department. Rather they have embraced the idea that audience engagement is the whole point and that the entire organization—from the board to the artistic director to the artists to the concessions staff (and, oh, yes, the marketers)—must be working together to broaden and deepen the impact of the art on the stage. 

Second, both companies have strategically fostered relationships with community partners, enlisting their help in reaching new communities—and, crucially, recognizing the need and the benefit of returning the favor by supporting their partners in reaching their own objectives.

Both organizations understand that they are in the business of, as Cleveland Public puts it, “brokering meaningful relationships between art, artists and audiences.” Artists and audiences are strategically brought together to connect around the work. This is the point of City Lights’ after-show (that is, after every single show) parties: to offer the artists and the audience a chance to organically bond by sharing a glass of wine and diving into conversation around the work. Cleveland Public successfully lures artists not onstage back to the theatre through $10 tickets and (on Fridays) free beer, and audiences are delighted to recognize artists from previous shows sitting next to them, both groups ready to share their experience of that night’s performance—not in a formal “talk-back”—but in the buzzy lobby after the show. 

City Lights and Cleveland Public are constantly inventing new ways of connecting with the people of their communities. Some of the innovations work, some fail. But the clear focus on audiences has not only increased attendance and enlarged their budgets, it has created a new sense of purpose shared by their artists, staffs and boards, and it has deepened the impact of these two theatres on their communities. And, through venues like NAMP, a strategic emphasis on engaging audiences has helped make these companies models for their peers around the country. 

Brad Erickson is executive director of Theatre Bay Area.

Tags:  audience development  executive director  marketing 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Updated 2015 "Sources of Publicity" Book on Sale Now!

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Updated: Monday, May 18, 2015


What do you want? Butts in seats. 

How do you get them? Publicity!

Theatre Bay Area proudly presents its newly updated summer 2015 edition of Sources of Publicity, the indispensable guide for reaching (and wooing) the media professionals who can get the word out about your show.  

The updated 2015 Sources of Publicity is the premier guide to print, web, radio, television and, now, social media sources of publicity in the Bay Area, now featuring up-to-date information on almost 300 media contacts in the Bay Area. 

The 2015 Sources of Publicity also includes a wealth of useful information for anyone with a project to share, whether you're an old hand at the publicity game or a bright new star looking for ways to shine!

Additional content includes:

• Contact info for the members of the Glickman Award committee and the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle

• Indexes by alphabetical order and by geographic region

• Advice on avoiding common publicity mistakes

• Tips on photography best practices

• Social media etiquette when contacting journalists

• And even a deadline guide (hooray!)

Don't wait - order your copy today!

Tags:  audience development  Community Events  Glickman Award  journalism  marketing  Sources of Publicity 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Stuff We Love: 15 Best Tweets from #TBACon15

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, April 15, 2015

We're still tingling from the excitement and energy after TBACon15! Relive the day with these 15 highlights pulled from over 500 #tbacon15-tagged Tweets!

1. On plenary speaker, Jesús Quintero from Tijuana Hace Teatro:

2. On that #tbacon15 livetweeting life:

3. On Mina Morita, artistic director of Crowded Fire Theater Company, another plenary speaker:

4. On Gender Parity:

5. On Triple Play,
a national project led by TBA and Theatre Development Fund reinforcing the relationship between audiences, artists and theatre organizations:

6. More on Gender Parity, behind the glass curtain:


7. On directors/stage managers acting as de facto HR reps:


8. On the lunchtime lull, from an active participant participating remotely:

9. On the Playwrights' Cabaret:


10. On Partnerships:


11. On reacting to #tbacon15!


12. On Sarah Moser, accepting the 2015 RHE Artistic Fellowship!


13. On Marcus Gardley, 2014 Glickman Award recipient, and his moving acceptance speech:


14. One of the many breathless (as far as we can infer) reactions to Marcus Gardley's speech:


15. On letting it all sink in, post-#tbacon15:


Honorable Mention:
Is it tastelessly self-aggrandizing to post one of our own? Nonetheless, one of the most engaged-with Tweets was a quote from Marcus Gardley:


That's all for this year. So many inspiring (and clever!) thoughts, reactions and conversations took place on #tbacon15—and in real life. Thank you for jumping in and speaking up. Say those changes aloud! Let's see what progress we've made next year at #tbacon16.


Tags:  #tbacon15  Annual Conference  audience development  Community Events  Gender Parity  Glickman Award  Marcus Gardley  Mina Morita 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

A Huge #TBACon15 Thank You!

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Updated: Friday, April 17, 2015

Theatre Bay Area would like to say THANK YOU to the many, many people who made the 2015 Annual Conference such a success!

Thank you to all invited speakers, panelists, coordinators and consultants, for sharing your expertise and passion. You inspired literally hundreds of people at this event.

Thank you to all attendees, for being the reason we hold this event. It's amazing to get to spend a whole day together, hearing about what excites, challenges and moves you.

Thank you to all volunteers, for helping to get it all done. Your cheerful assistance reflects our community at its best: generous, collaborative and committed. You are deeply appreciated. 

Thank you to all donors and sponsors, for taking a stand to show your support for the arts, the Bay Area theatre arts community, and a world made better through expanding the public's access to the particular power of theatre. 

Special thanks to these major sponsors:



Musson Theatrical


See you next year at #TBACon16! 

Tags:  #tbacon15  Annual Conference  audience development  Community Events  Gender Parity  Glickman Award  Intrinsic Impact  Marcus Gardley  Mina Morita  RHE Fellowship  Works by Women SF 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Special Guests at 2015 Annual Conference: Tijuana Hace Teatro

Posted By TBA Staff, Friday, March 20, 2015


Exciting conference news! Joining us for our opening plenary session will be very special guests Jesús Quintero and Ramón Verdugo, founding codirectors of Tijuana Hace Teatro (Tijuana Makes Theatre).


Jesús Quintero and Ramón Verdugo, founding codirectors of Tijuana Hace Teatro. Photo: El Sol de Tijuana


Part theatre collective producing provocative new plays, part innovative theatre service organization, THT describes itself as a movement to unite the people of Tijuana with the power of theatre. Founded in 2007, THT has emerged as a cultural force on the southern side of our border, now bringing its Escuela de Espectadores (School for Audiences) across the international frontier. Quintero and Verdugo, darlings of last summer's TCG Conference in San Diego, will share their insights and their passion for connecting people with great theatre. 


Register for the 2015 TBA Conference now to see these special guests!


2015 TBA Annual Conference main information page 



Tags:  #tbacon15  audience development 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Know Your Audience! Grow Your Audience!

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Updated: Monday, November 3, 2014



Theatre Bay Area is proud to host visionary audience development thinker Matt Lehrman for another Audiences Everywhere™ workshop on Nov. 21! 

He's bringing back his foundational, foundation-shaking workshop for theatre leaders who missed him the last time he came through town.

Here are just some of the tweets from that session:

• From The Marsh ("Thank you @theatrebayarea for bringing @MattLehrman to host his fabulous #AudEv workshop. It's great to learn meta-level ideas for the arts!”) 
• From ODC ("Thanks to @theatrebayarea & @MattLehrman for a great workshop full of new ideas to explore! #audev”)


Highlights from a recent Audiences Everywhere™ presentation for CultureSource in Detroit, Michigan.:


Event information

What: Audiences Everywhere™ workshop on November 21 

Where: Intersection for the Arts, 925 Mission Street, San Francisco

When: From 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Who: You! Theatre leaders who are hungry to take their companies to the next level. 


Are you ready to get excited about making a full-company commitment to expanding your audiences? Get your seat today!

Tags:  audience development  marketing  workshop 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)