How to Grow Your Audience
Being in the Fringe programme and on our website and app does not in itself guarantee you an audience. It is easy to underestimate how hard you need to work as a performer or artist to ensure that you gain a large crowd - and that can go for big names as well as unknowns. The following is a list of tips from Fringe organisers. It is by no means definitive. If you have your own tips that you would like to share please contact us. This page is designed to complement our publicity page.
- Make the most of your 50-word programme entry to really sell your show. Give the audience an idea what your show is about or what you are playing if it is a music event. If you've won an award, say so. If you've had a good review, quote it. If you are from outside the UK say so as it means you are international!
- Don't assume you will have an audience. However good you are, you will need to sell yourself in a crowded Fringe. Some days there may be 50+ events - you need to make yourself stand out.
- Consider having more than one performance if possible. Be aware that audiences tend to grow thanks to the impact of our Fringe reviews and word of mouth. In the past Underground has offered discounted 'preview' tickets for shows in the first week of the Fringe to help this process
- Use our community links scheme to generate interest in your target group eg children. Maybe you could offer discounted tickets to particular low wage groups or put on a relaxed performance suitable for people who might welcome a less formal theatre experience.
- Know who your target audience is
- Make the most of any local contacts - don't be shy about spreading the word amongst friends and family
- Get publicity material to Fringe Desk or Fringe Chair in time - or to Underground Venues if you are performing with them
- Don't forget to hold back enough flyers and posters to distribute yourselves around the town in cafes, shops etc (NB NOT street furniture). Try to find the best places for your target audience
- Once Fringe has started take time to talk to staff on Fringe Desk. If they know what your show is about it is easier to answer questions from the public and point them your way.
- Try the personal touch in handing out flyers yourself or performing extracts for free, either outside or in sympathetic venues in the town.
- Take any opportunities to talk to prospective audience members, e.g. upstairs at Underground Venues in the Fringe Club. Also talk to other performers, the more people in the know who can talk about your show the better.
- Make the most of Fringe Sunday, Carnival day, Fringe social events, busking opportunities and Fringe on Friday bandstand events to give out flyers, dress up in costume and attract attention
- Think about involving local people in the performance itself eg dance companies in the past have held workshops in local schools, then had a curtain-raiser involving those students, thereby securing themselves an audience of the students' families and friends
- Be accessible. Even if doing something avant garde or challenging, meet the audience halfway by offering some explanatory info with your publicity and programme notes
- Consider an unusual, characterful venue eg Shakespeare in a cave is always a winner or comedians may choose to use a café venue to create a cabaret atmosphere
- Consider adding extra value and something different eg free snacks, workshop element, promenade performance, interactivity, something that makes it seem like an event. Audience feedback has in the past included a plea for after-show discussions with the theatre company, especially when there are issues to explore.
- Do masses of publicity using the media list provided by the Fringe - see How to write a Press Release Consider advertising in the press.
- If you have an attractive cast, costumes or sets show them off in publicity pictures.
- Think of an interesting angle for the press - eg the first time... a new collaboration... return of an award winner... local angle... youngest performer... oldest performer... human interest story... anniversary
- Consider doing something topical or newsworthy
- Use digital marketing/social media. The Fringe has a thriving presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Make sure you tag the Fringe in your posts @buxtonfringe.
And remember, if your show is a purely online people are likely to find you mostly via online channels.
- Talk to us about being featured on one of our Fringe podcasts - we are here to help! The podcast is called It's a Fringe! - The Buxton Fringe Podcast and can be found on most podcast providers including Apple and Spotify. [Note - the podcast is under review for 2024]
- Watch timing of show - eg beware the impact of the Carnival on the first or middle Saturday afternoon and evening. Don't put a children's show on late in the evening.
- Watch pricing. Some audience members can feel short-changed if charged a lot for a half hour show. Rightly or wrongly they tend to equate length with value for money. If your event is free you may still wish to ask for donations - we now include an optional donations link in your programme listing for those offering free events
- But... shows over 90 minutes may be difficult for audience members to fit into a busy Fringe schedule
- Be sure to submit a photo for the programme. The Fringe website now has a Gallery feature so that if you enter more than one picture, they will all be featured in an online gallery linked to from your listing. More pictures also means more options for the press when they are writing about you. Be sure not to infringe anyone's copyright.
- In 2024 there is a tiered entry-procedure. The fee is £55 if you get in before the end of February. Remember is you enter early your details are on website and app for longer and you get picked out in early press and magazine articles as well as Fringe blogs.