The Art of Research shines its light on the Everyman!
Published on: Tuesday, 17 May 2016
CIT Masters of Business students focus on business at the iconic Cork Theatre.
A partnership in research between the Everyman Theatre and CIT brought the 2015/2016 academic year to a close for the Masters of Business Studies class. Valuable ideas and recommendations came to the fore yet again with their impressive ‘Problem Solving’ for local Cork businesses. Under the direction of Dr Angela Wright Department of Organisation and Professional Development, School of Business, CIT, the research was conducted over the last three months. Four groups of adult masters students competed for the top prize which was judged and presented by the Theatre Management and CIT academic staff. The winning team pictured are; Aengus Daly, Michael Mulcahy, Bobby McAllister and Greg Chlodniki. The work was presented to Julie Kelleher, artistic director, Melanie Kavanagh, Marketing Manager, and Anna Marie Coughlan, fundraising manager at the Everyman and CIT staff. All involved consider the work to be outstanding and at the very highest level. Extensive research was undertaken for the project which consisted of responses from 1,309 existing patrons through a detailed survey. Exit polls were also conducted at the venue with patrons of shows to gather data, along with face to face interviews with staff and volunteers at the Everyman. In 2012, there were 3.4 million attendances to the Arts in Ireland, 397,000 of these were in Munster.
Some of the findings from the research reveal that almost 40% of attendees are over the age of 45 years. Friday night was the most popular evening to attend at 67%. Drama was the most popular choice at 71%, and this was followed by live music at 52%. Even with all of the popularity of social media today, email was the most popular and preferred way to receive information about the theatre at 94%. Although the Everyman is a ‘not for profit’ theatre, 66% of their patrons did not know this. 79% of patrons like to use the bar in the theatre on the night of a show. Patrons at the Everyman loved the traditional, historical atmosphere of the 120 year old building. Venues such as the Everyman are invaluable to many of the 130 musical societies throughout the whole of Ireland and the 14,000 people directly involved with musical theatre on a voluntary basis, which currently has an audience base of around 1.2 million.
All of those surveyed ‘loved’ the theatre itself per se, with the program of events being a ‘top priority’ for Everyman attendees, but some improvements could be made to the appearance of the entrance hallway, the shop facilities and the bar area.
Some interesting suggestions from the research included retro uniforms for the volunteers who assist patrons to their seats; ideas for re-animating the exterior of the building such as new lighting and holograms at the entrance to the theatre; encouraging daytime footfall through using the bar space as a café space by day; and some wonderful ideas for transforming the foyer area into a permanent exhibition space that illustrates the fascinating history of the building.
There is no doubt but that the Everyman theatre is a well recognised brand and a well respected establishment. Its core strengths are its building, and its people (patrons, staff and volunteers). Julie Kelleher said that “my colleagues at the Everyman and I were blown away by the in depth research and analysis carried out by the CIT MBS students. Focusing their efforts on The Everyman's marketing, fundraising and programming activities, they delivered lively and coherent presentations of their research methodology and findings. We were particularly struck by the level of detail the groups brought to their task, and by the creativity shown in their proposed ideas. Many of these students come from diverse working backgrounds, and it was hugely encouraging to see them engage with the challenges and creative opportunities that exist within the contexts of running a vital and busy performing arts venue. The Everyman is sincerely grateful to the group for their hard work.”
Dr Angela Wright said that the Everyman project proved to be a very success and valuable opportunity for the adult master students, many of whom would never have had an opportunity in the past to examine a theatre business in any detail. She applauded the incredible effort that was put in by the Masters students from the inception of the idea. The students certainly delivered extensive, relevant and practical ideas for the Theatre to implement. Dr Wright said that she hoped that some of the findings could be immediately put into action and that all of study would be of on-going benefit to the Theatre.