Someone asked if I had built a 30 Questions exercise for anything other than universities. Most of the time I do them in my head and don’t bother to write them down. I did put one together for theaters a few years ago, though, so I’ve pulled it out and dusted it off.
You’d think the smaller scale of content would make them easier, but theaters have far more variables for their size than universities. Sometimes you have a company that uses one or more facilities. Other times you have an arts complex that hosts multiple companies. Auditions are announced and conducted very differently for professional and amateur companies.
They have diverse management methods, sales structures, fundraising strategies and levels of community involvement. Parking is less of an issue for small cities and suburban areas — and public transportation is less likely to be available.
These questions assume the theater is one company using one permanent location and that there is a degree of opportunity for community involvement. They also assume that season information is available, which may not be the case. I’ve seen theater companies go as long as 10 months between the end of one season and the announcement of the next.
For any theater, at least a third of these questions may not apply (or they do, and the answer is no). So what do you do as a content manager when the content is negative?
One strategy is to add placeholder text. The next season won’t be announced for six months? No problem. Try something like this:
“Thank you for your interest in our productions! We’ve wrapped up our (year) season and are currently working on plans for our next. Please check back (month and year), when we’ll be announcing our upcoming shows. If you’d like to be the first to know, subscribe (add a link) for latest news by email.”
Then the only catch is sticking to the deadline you’ve set. When you’re dealing with artists, include a large margin of error.
If you have a collection of negatives (no classes, no facility rentals, no equipment rentals), one possible approach is to include an FAQs page that contains this information. If you have a good search feature on your site and write the FAQs well, they will contain keywords that will get visitors to the negative information. They may be disappointed, but they will be less so than if they had just spent 15 minutes going through the site page by page trying to find this out.
And with that, here are the 30 Questions. Can you find:
- The lineup for the current season.
- Performance dates for the next production.
- Season membership packages and prices.
- Whether the theater has children’s theater productions and the date for the next one if they do.
- Information on accessibility and services for the handicapped.
- The late seating policy.
- Sponsorship opportunities.
- How to contact the box office online.
- Travel directions and public transportation options.
- Whether seating is general audience or reserved.
- Nearby restaurants.
- Online ticket purchases for a single production.
- Whether any ticket discounts are available, with details about how to get them.
- How to make a donation to the theater.
- Information about what in-kind donations the theater accepts and how to make them.
- How to purchase gift memberships or tickets.
- The link to the theater’s Facebook page.
- Parking information.
- Whether the theater offers acting or production classes, with prices and dates.
- When and where the next public fundraising event will be.
- Information on volunteer opportunities, with contact information.
- Theater rental information.
- Whether the theater has group sales, including online purchase options.
- Equipment rental information.
- The cast list for the current (or most recent) production.
- How to contact the technical director.
- Whether there are open auditions — and if so, when the next auditions are.
- Code of conduct (including appropriate attire, cell phones, recording of productions).
- Information on how to sign up to receive announcements.
- How to buy one of the theater’s T-shirts.