When I walked into The Gold Coast Arts Centre in Surfer’s Paradise, my jaw hit the floor.
The complex includes the Arts Theatre, Gold Coast City Gallery, two Cinemas and the Arts Cafe. In addition, they were working on a small black-box space that they were getting ready to open and a basement cabaret space (which was where we did our workshop).
In the big world of one-stop Arts shopping, these folks have it down.
I recently had a conversation with a friend whom I don’t consider to be a “theatre person” who was telling me about seein a touring production of Grease that’s currently in town. She’s someone who spends money on “going out”–which could include a concert, a movie, or the theatre, with her girlfriends or her husband. And she doesn’t just leave her house at 7:30, go to the theatre, and then come directly home. The evening is an event that includes getting dressed up, going for dinner before the show, and then out for drinks and possibly dancing after. For her, “going out” is a 6-hour, multiple-event affair.
What I loved about the Gold Coast Arts Centre is that it made making an evening out an event incredibly easy. If you were going to the theatre, you could arrive there, have dinner, browse the art gallery, see a show, and have drinks afterwards all without leaving the premises. How smart is that?
We need to think about how we can apply this model to North American theatres and arts events. If you are produing a show, for example, can you partner with a nearby restaraunt to offer your clientelle a more rounded experience? Can you find them parking in advance? Pre-order intermission drinks when you sell them a ticket? Make it easy and welcoming for them to hang out after the show at the bar, without rushing them out the door?
What can you do to make your next art event more of a capital-E Event?