There is a complex touring ecology in Australia, which works hard to bring contemporary Australian performances to regional communities. However, if ticket sales are anything to go by, these works often fail to resonate with market. Or do they? Our research is shedding new light on this important issue.

About this project

For the past three years, we've worked with Performing Lines, Wolf Brown and presenters across Australia to explore the audience response to three touring theatre productions. The productions were part of the Australia Council’s Road Work initiative, designed to enable regional audiences to engage with contemporary, original thought-provoking new Australian work. 

Although regional presenters found each of the three productions challenging to market to their communities (and many reported disappointing ticket sales), people who did attend experienced a wide range of positive impacts, like captivation, emotional resonance and importantly, aesthetic growth.

The results of the final phase of the study are now available on Issuu, and the results are well worth a read, for anyone involved in regional performing arts.

The results

Three quarters (72%) of the 1,640 respondents said they were exposed to a new style of theatre they didn’t know about previously and 77% said show exceeded their expectations. Almost all of those surveyed said they are likely to attend theatre in future (89%), and those that had positive experiences are the most likely to. 

The results show that what happens before and after a show could be important. Across the three tours, factors associated with above average experiences included reading a review or article about the play beforehand, discussing the show ‘intensely’ afterwards and attending a post-show Q&A. The results also suggest a strong association between captivation, overall experience and likelihood to attend in future.

Our conclusions

For us, the evidence collected in this study confirmed the value of contemporary Australian performance for regional audiences - and provides some solid leads for strengthening tours.  However, we believe that if such performances are to fulfil their potential in regional Australia, more work needs to be done. Greater investment is needed to help funders, tour coordinators, producers and presenters work together to engage more members of the community and build audiences over the long-term. 

What do you think is needed to help great Australian works reach their potential in regional areas? We'd love to hear your ideas.


Want more information?

Head to the full Intrinsic Impact Study to find out more about exploring the intrinsic impacts of Road Work performances on regional audiences.

Please get in touch with us via for more information about this study, the intrinsic impact tools, or our work in regional Australia. 

Image by Sarah Walker


About the Author

Tandi Williams
Managing Director

Patternmakers’ Founder and Managing Director Tandi Williams is an experienced consultant and arts and culture research specialist.