Our Commitment to Audience Development

With our Big Give campaign underway, we wanted to give you some more insight into our on-going work and commitment to audience development as we continue building towards our next festival in 2024.

Image Credit: Christa Holka

If you have read our campaign page, you will have noticed that we refer to our work with Audience Connectors. But what does this really mean? And how are they supporting our goal of making the theatre we present more accessible and affordable for all Londoners?

At LIFT, we recognise that offering £5 tickets is only part of the solution. Our Audience Connectors help us connect more with London communities who very rarely or never attend theatre, including those who cannot afford to attend.  

Jaime Lock (they/them) is one of our Audience Connectors who has been working closely both with us and Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) on the return of LIFT festival favourite, The Making of Pinocchio. Created by renowned queer artists Rosanna Cade and Ivor MacAskill (Glasgow), the critically acclaimed show and LIFT co-production had its UK premiere over five nights at BAC during LIFT 2022. Cade and MacAskill recently returned to London following a successful international tour. After conversations with the artists about who they felt was missing in the audience in 2022, we hired Jaime to reach more trans and gender non-conforming people. Audiences who could benefit from seeing characters on stage who may in some way reflect their experiences. 

Crucially, our work with Jaime has also created the foundations for a LIFT audience development model which can now be transferred to future performances. This will support our goal of building lasting relationships with new audiences right across London. 

We work with individuals with lived experience like Jaime because they have an existing knowledge and rooted connection with the audiences we want to bring closer to our work. This enables us to build further trust with new audiences, while growing our understanding of what they need and how we can best serve them. Whilst our aim is to open our festival to new audiences for LIFT 2024, we also want to ensure they remain with us for years to come. 

With support from The Foyle Foundation, we’re delighted to have recently hired two more Audience Connectors who will be working with us in the run up to LIFT 2024. Mariana Aristizábal will engage with Latinx communities across London, whilst Laura Ratling will engage with communities living within London’s Square Mile. This activity supports LIFT the City, our new two-year programme funded by the City of London Corporation. It will consist of performances and engagement work with residents, workers, and communities in the heart of London. 

This work continues our audience development strategy of working with people who are either from, or have a deep association with, a particular community or place. Our Audience Connectors connect us with people who are not usually art attenders, who are on low income and often can’t afford to go to the theatre, or who might not feel it’s open to them.  

This is what our Big Give campaign is all aboutmaking the LIFT festival open and available to all Londoners. With your help this week, we can turn our ambition into a reality. Art should be for everyone regardless of circumstance. It’s a powerful force which brings people together. One starting point – which we can achieve with your help through the Big Giveis to provide low-cost tickets for people who need them.  

Reaching our campaign target is the first step. The next step, alongside our Audience Connectors, will be to reach people who will most benefit from the £5 tickets. This will only be possible thanks to the donations we receive. To support these ambitions, please donate to our Big Give campaign by following this link. All donations made via the Big Give will automatically be doubled until midday on Tuesday 5th December. All and any amounts make a huge difference 

And finally, if you need any more incentive, hear from the expert themselves!  

Back in October, we caught up with Jaime about the work they were doing for The Making of Pinocchio and the potential impact for LIFT’s audience development work going forwards. Keep reading below to find out more from Jaime.  

Joe: What excited you most about ‘The Making of Pinocchio’? 

Jaime: This is a show which totally flips what theatre is on its head – it’s a story, but it’s also a film, documentary, memoir, and a comedy. I also love the tone of it. It’s light and playful but also speaks to some really important discussions surrounding trans people’s experiences today. I found myself laughing and shedding a tear in the space of a few minutes! 

Joe: Why do you feel that more representation of the trans community is important, not only for LIFT’s audience but also for the performing arts sector more widely? 

Jaime: I truly believe the saying that you can’t be what you can’t see. It can feel lonely and isolating sometimes being part of a marginalised group. For trans+ people, seeing people like them reflected in art demonstrates that they exist, and they’re valued, and their experiences are worth something. There is a lot of damaging media coverage about trans people in the UK. More and better representation in the arts community helps educate people about who we are, thus generating (hopefully) more compassion and less fear. 

Joe: What do you feel is the potential impact of the work you are doing for LIFT and BAC? 

Jaime: We had an amazing number of responses to our survey looking at LGBTQ+ audiences and barriers they may face to attending theatre. The impact of this work means that LIFT and BAC, and eventually other arts organisations, can learn more about LGBTQ+ audiences and how they can engage with them and ensure they feel safe and motivated to attend shows. For the LGBTQ+ and particularly the trans+ and gender non-conforming community, this work will hopefully go towards creating more inclusive, engaging, and safer live art experiences. 

We would like to extend a huge thank you to Jaime for all their amazing work over the last few months in support of our audience development ambitions – we’re incredibly excited about this next step!