Auditoriums meet conference Dublin 2011
Nov 14, 2011
Transformations, amalgamations and a paradigm shift: It’s all about the experience.
The Auditoriums Meet Conference in Dublin last week convened the leaders and designers of some of the world’s latest landmark performance auditoria. Some were brand new venues like the Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin and the Curve in Leicester, both created during times of economic buoyancy and both of which have had to work hard to gain market position. And then there were the Scandinavians, dedicated to the pursuit of acoustic and environmental quality regardless, it seems, of cost or time, like the world’s most expensive concert hall, the Koncerthuset in Copenhagen and its Norwegian neighbour the Kilden Performing Arts Centre in Kristiansand.
But more of the venues were transformations. Like Cinderella’s glittering carriage magicked from a pumpkin, Dublin’s 02 is an astonishing reinvention of the 9000 seat concert venue which not only accommodates with style and comfort audiences and artists for the central performance but also pays as much attention to other parts of the experience. Mike Adamson O2’s CEO was obsessive about getting the right lighting to create ambience in the various zones of the O2, from the bars where pints can be pulled in 20 seconds, to the VIP Audi club. And Toronto’s Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, transformed from the Hummingbird Centre in the wake of an explosion of new venues, to become a multicultural arts centre with cup holders built into the seats. The overall experience is serviced through the $20 themed drink and dinner offer and a recognition that audiences will be live streaming, taking photos, checking into Foursquare and Facebook during the performance.
This attention to all parts of the customer experience in attending an event is critical to the success of performance auditoria in the 21st century. The dimensions of the ‘experience’ includes not only the real but the virtual, and not only during the concert but before and after, and not only the individual experience but the experience in relation to others, before, during after and in the hall, the club, the bar, the car park and on facebook, foursquare and gowalla.
Whereas 20th century venues put on work, marketed it to the audiences and then, when they came, sold them a drink, 21st century venues convene with their communities, audiences, affiliates and commercial partners and together create experiences.
Auditoriums Meet explored all these issues:
Venues and audiences, fans and artists connect in multiple configurations across difference timezones, so much of this enabled by social media.
Much market data was shared by PRS in England and Ireland, demonstrating the trend for increased revenues for live events, particularly festivals (at the expense of recorded).
Social media analysts shared the power of tools such as Fanshake for building communities of fans.
Copenhagen living lab went much deeper, applying an anthropological model to the live experience, analysing individual archetypes and their behaviours during the various phases of the community ritual experience. And the simple market segmentation on the Smirnoff Nightlight Exchange Project: are you a poser or a paparrazi?
Much food for marketers here.
QR codes, sony screens, http://www.intellitix.com/newsite/, queue-it … and many more.
There is an increasing separation between owners and operators of venues. Harry Crosbie owns the O2 and Grand Canal in Dublin and they are operated by Live Nation. In Lucerne’s KKL, the building is owned by a trust which receives subsidy for the core operational overheads from the local council. The trust then contracts the operations at no cost to the KKL management company.
Amalgamations increase. The Sony Centre is expected soon to merge with the neighbouring St Lawrence Centre. The Kilden is to be the joint centre for three independent institutions: Agder Regional Theater, Kristiansand Synphony Orchestra and Opera Sør (the regional opera company).
Deeper affiliations and corporate partnerships create not only a greater use of lighting, like O2 blue, but genuinely collaborative partnerships of mutual benefit. Naming rights are the flavour of the decade, with the Grand Canal about to become the Bord Gáis Theatre, the Cloudy Bay bar in the Albert Hall as the chillout bar of SW7 and the O2 and Sony Centre demonstrating that it’s easy to switch from one name to another.
For more information, please see Anne Bonnar’s blog on her own website
Anne Bonnar November 2011