Reversing the aging process: How theatres can engage young patrons
Lovejoy, Kristen Elizabeth
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This dissertation looks into ways theatre marketers can attract college students to meet long-term audience goals. It uses the Galileo System, an approach to looking at social scientific phenomena using the methods of physical scientists, to compare the attitudes of college-aged individuals to current theatregoers and evaluate what can be done to alter these attitudes. In doing so it also uncovers inaccuracies made in previous explanations of the Galileo System and makes suggestions for fine-tuning the method. The pilot study evaluates the views on different entertainment options: live theatre, going to sporting events, and going to the movies. It uses three groups: college-aged students who do not attend theatre, college-aged students who do attend theatre, and adults currently involved in theatre. The groups were predicted to have differing views and illustrate the full spectrum of opinions on theatre. Study 1 compares the attitudes of college-aged students to adult theatregoers on theatre and the other entertainment options, as well as collecting actual attendance behavior for the different activities. It uses a list of terms generated by the pilot study to create a Galileo Survey to measure these attitudes and finds that college-aged students have a much different and less positive attitude towards theatre than theatregoers. Study 2 tries to use this information and the Automatic Message Generator in the Galileo System to bring live theatre closer to the self-concept of college-aged students. Although the message failed to move these concepts closer together, Study 2 uncovered interesting findings about the stability of the attitudes of college-aged students towards theatre. This dissertation suggests strategies marketers can use to target this group as well as areas for future research.