That’s it! No more surveys about THIS!

Usually, I love a survey.

I’m a big-time tester when it comes to understanding what our audience wants.

I survey theatergoers about all sorts of things.  I ask if they think a book or movie would make a good musical.  I ask what they thought of Act II. I ask whether a logo makes them want to learn more about a show.  (Side note about this last one.  Note that I didn’t say “whether a logo makes them want to buy a ticket.  Because logos don’t do that – so stop stressing.  But good ones can make people lean in and want to learn more.)

I even got this write-up in the New York Times years ago for being the first Broadway Producer to incorporate dial testing for a developing show. (Shocker – some of the old guard didn’t like this approach.)

So what am I so peeved about a certain type of survey that has been circulating every month or so?

Because it’s a survey in a vacuum.

The offending survey . . . you know the one . . . asks audience members IF they feel comfortable returning to the theater NOW and if they are not comfortable WHEN they will feel comfortable?  (By the way, I’ll admit – even I’ve asked this question every so often . . . so I’m blog-spanking myself here as well.)

I’m sure it does NOT surprise you to hear that a majority of the people in the country are NOT comfortable returning to the theater right now.  And they are not excited about returning anytime soon.

Of course they aren’t!  Because the majority of big theaters aren’t open yet.  Because it’s not safe to open them yet!

We, as human beings, live in the now.  It’s hard for us to imagine in the future feeling a different way than the way we feel right now.  If we are anxious and worried . . . it’s hard to imagine that going away, no matter what someone says (especially if it’s an online survey!) . . .

So these surveys are not realistic attitude-checks on when theatergoers will return.

You want to get a more accurate assessment?  Survey ONLY the vaccinated people.  Ask them how comfortable they are to return.  Something tells me you’ll get a different response.

It’s like . . . well . . . when all those surveys in the fall announced a high percentage of hesitancy for the vaccine.  When the vaccine wasn’t approved yet!  Now?  Websites are crashing under high demand, vaccine sites are overrun when excess supply rumors abound, and more.

Unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to rely on surveys to ease our concern here.  Because everything is changing so fast . . . and it’s literally life and death. We have to give in to the fact that it’s going to be a white-knuckle ride as we get Broadway back up and running.  Will the audience come?  Will they come quickly?

My feeling?

Get them vaccinated.  Put proper protocols in place.  And entertain them like they’ve never been entertained before.

And look out, Telecharge and Ticketmaster, because your websites just might crash under high demand too.

 The Nutshell Technique Workshop for TheaterMakers is Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 10th at 7 PM – 9 PM EST (Live “Nutshelling” from 9-9:30) Sign up here.

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.