Case Study | Tricycle Theatre

How survey data can provide a clearer picture into audience behaviour

Located in Brent, the Tricycle is a local venue with an international vision. They have a theatre, an independent cinema, a vibrant bar and café, plus three rehearsal spaces which are used for productions, workshops and creative learning projects. They present high quality and innovative work, which provokes debate and emotionally engages. With Indhu Rubasingham as Artistic Director, the Tricycle Theatre continues its reputation for world-class British and international work, reflecting the exceptional diversity of its local community.

This case study shows how they used a tagged survey to combine quantitative and booker data to better understand their audiences.


The marketing department at the Tricycle Theatre are continually working to understand more about their audiences; who they are, where they live, why they attend, how they find out about activities and what they think of the organisation and its programming. Like many arts organisations they collect a variety of audience data, including audience surveys and box office patron data, however these can often feel quite separate. The objective of this project was to try and bring the booker data and audience survey information together to form a better overall picture of audience behaviour.

The Tricycle sends an annual e-survey to all bookers in their system from the last 12 months who provide contactable e-mail addresses, to ask them about their experiences at the theatre. While this is a useful way to measure what kind of audiences they attract and how they found out about the events, the theatre wanted to know more about how audience opinions correlated with their booking behaviour.

In summary the goal was to track whether bookers do what they say they do, in what ways and why; and to analyse the relationship between attendance and opinion.

The process

The analysis and processes used are most suited to performing arts organisations due to the comprehensive box office data available. By working with The Audience Agency and Spektrix they were able to tag an e-survey link with a unique booking reference number. This unique reference number can be appended manually, in Excel, or within a supported email client, such as Spektrix.

Using the Tricycle’s 2013/14 Audience Finder survey to pilot the process, customer IDs were appended to each survey link using a function in Excel. Through this process it was possible to understand people’s opinions in terms of their booking behaviour, as well as spend and programme choice.

All linked box office and survey data is only reported on at the aggregate level and all data handled is in accordance with the 1998 Data Protection Act.

Findings and outcomes

The theatre received 1,147 survey responses giving a margin of error of 2.8% at the 95% confidence level. Of the 1,147 survey responses, 790 were matched to the Tricycle’s 2012/13 box office records.

Correlated and analysed audience survey responses were analysed together with their most recent booking behaviour. Booking behaviour of the survey respondents was reported at the most recent transaction level.

Some key findings included:

  • Those encouraged by ‘word of mouth’ on average spent nearly £10 more than those who were engaged through digital information sources.
  • Respondents encouraged by ‘digital’ sources, booked their tickets on average 9 days later than those encouraged by ‘word of mouth’.


Implications from this include the Tricycle looking into how they target promotions to increase digital spend per head and a further plan to include questions on in-venue ancillary spend linking this to booker behaviour data.

Wider analysis saw the theatre segmenting audiences in two other ways:

1. Geographically by residence – locals (defined as residing within a 2 mile radius) and ‘non locals’. This was to test whether there was a difference in perceptions of the Tricycle, depending on how close people lived to the venue.

Work within their local community is very important to the Tricycle, particularly as they receive local authority funding. Whilst the Creative Learning and outreach work may not resonate with someone who has travelled across London to see a specific production, the theatre specifically wanted to explore levels of awareness amongst immediate local audiences.

It was significant that 80% of local audiences agreed the Tricycle helps to enhance a sense of community in Kilburn, 30% higher than non-local audiences. This demonstrates a much clearer picture of how the venue is perceived in the local area than just relying on survey responses as a whole.

2. Frequency and motivations: high frequency and low frequency attendees’ motivations for attendance (which elements of the production/organisation had the most impact on their decision to engage).

The Tricycle’s reputation and themes of their productions were considered the most important driver for everyone surveyed. However, high frequency attenders also considered the director and writer to be an important motivation to engage. This insight will be used by the theatre in their communications when planning and targeting different audience segments in the future.


For the Tricycle this pilot study has added valuable motivational and experiential context to booker data and greatly assists in their understanding of the relationship between audience box office data and reported behaviour. It demonstrates how data can segment audiences to a higher degree to inform marketing planning and contribute to customised communications, delivering greater insight than booker data alone.