SURREY — It’s almost spring. It’s a calendar thing that happens regardless of the weather front. We might get rain, wind, storm, snow or sun. Schools have spring break time, and just to keep the calendar full of other things, March also has International Women’s Day (on the 8th), International Happiness Day (20th), and World Water Day (22nd). These special days may not add to your busy schedule on your to-do list, but according to a National Endowment for the Arts Research Report #59 (from January 2015), “parents with young children overwhelmingly cited lack of time” as the most common barrier to attendance of arts exhibitions and performances.
I looked at this report carefully because it is vital for theatre clubs to understand and embrace why people attend an event – or not. Not surprisingly, non-attendees interested in performances had 44 per cent citing cost and 33 per cent indicating the difficulty of getting to a venue as reasons for not attending. And this is Surrey, where we want easy access, free parking and Walmart prices. What a struggle. For any live theatre presentation, the cost of renting theatre space is the single most expensive item on the budget list. The cost of the ticket to attend has to reflect the costs of the production. So what else will motivate you to attend a live performance if cost is a factor?
According to this report, only 20 per cent of respondents to the survey attended a performance event. In the performing arts, the top motivations were to socialize with family or friends (76 per cent of performance attendees), to see a specific artist or performer (65 per cent) and to see a performance at a specific location (62 per cent).
This report also reveals that rural and suburban residents cite supporting community as a major motivation for attendance. Yes. Support your community! The report also finds that “attending the arts presents individuals with opportunities both to define their own sense of identity, and to socialize and deepen bonds with others in their families and in their broader communities – whether they be communities of geography, communities of shared cultural heritage or communities of common interests.”
The report concludes that “organizations providing opportunities for attendees to socialize, meet new people and experience new art forms, in a flexible format that combines the arts with other activities these individuals enjoy, may be better able to attract and retain audience members.”
You know, I really do believe that our community theatre clubs do offer all of the above. Add dance festivals, recitals, music events, school productions, as well as plays and musicals offered all the time in this city, and wow! We are doing a great job of sharing cultural experiences for everyone.
The Arts Council of Surrey developed the Youth Arts Council of Surrey (YACOS) in 2004. By working on the youth council, young people have the opportunity to meet people from other backgrounds and to learn new skills. At the same time, the events organized by YACOS open up the opportunity for the youth of Surrey to show off their talents to the community and contribute to the community at large.
Surrey Shines, the annual youth extravaganza organized by YACOS, with help from mentors, is just the opportunity we need for our whole city to be more involved in the performing arts. YACOS invites all youth (ages 13 to 23) to audition for Surrey Shines. This is your opportunity to show off the results of all those music lessons, dance classes and practice sessions. Good news for all young musicians, dancers, singers (soloists or groups): You have another chance to audition for the show. A second round of auditions is scheduled for March 12 and 13 at Newton Cultural Centre, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Interested? Register by e-mail (email@example.com) or call the Newton Cultural Centre at 604-594-2700.
The Surrey Shines performance will be on April 30. This is not a competition. There are no awards or trophies. It is real, and your opportunity to contribute to the community at large.