Take the Leap Online

New website brings arts organisations together online

Whatever you’re looking for, whether it be holidays or books, clothes or food, you can find it on the internet, and often at a better price.

Now thanks to the Nerve Centre and their Leapfrog Project you can now buy tickets to theatre, cinema, music, and comedy acts all across Northern Ireland. By logging on to www.thebigtickle.com/leap/ some great nights out are just at your fingertips.

With the support of Invest NI, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, venues province-wide are beginning to sell their tickets online. For many of them it’s a far cry from their previous systems when tickets were sold manually. Online, tickets can be sold 24/7 with the minimum of effort. Many organisations have noticed an increase in sales.

Mary Trainor of the Ulster Orchestra comments, ‘Twelve per cent of sales were online in the system’s first year. Many of these patrons had never bought tickets from us before.’

Niall McCaughan of the Playhouse in Derry is also a fan of online ticketing, ‘A large proportion of tickets sold for this year’s Big Tickle Comedy Festival were sold through the website. Our patron’s have had no problem adjusting to the changes.’

Selling tickets online is not only convenient for members of the public it also provides the organisations with a valuable insight into their audience.

By asking customers to answer a few questions online, venues can understand their audience better. Northern Ireland’s Audience Development Agency, Audiences NI, can profile the customers using software called MOSAIC.

Belfasts’s Old Museum Arts Centre has already benefited from the service. OMAC’s Aine McVerry says, ‘The audience profiling put the flesh on the bones of the audience. We were interested to find out that people were attending OMAC from North Belfast. We’ve also had people attend from as far away as Newry and Coleraine.’

The venues also hope that by getting to know their audiences better they will be able to market to them more effectively. Organisations such as OMAC offer a wide range of events so they have more than one audience and it’s important for them to make sure they’re marketing to the right one.

Online questionnaires also allow audiences to feed back to the venue and tell them what they want. Belfast Children’s Festival place great importance on this kind of information. Box Office Manager Caroline Martin explains that as parents bring their children to the festival to educate them, there is an extra incentive there to offer their opinions.

‘The customer that we have likes to give us feedback and we take that very seriously. People want to tell us how we can improve the festival. We have to keep asking questions and patrons will have to keep giving us the answers.’

Each of the 15 organisations associated with the project have their own reasons for taking their box offices online. Similarly, they have chosen whichever system best meets their needs. The one place to find them all together online is at the Leapfrog site.

To find out more about the venues and buy tickets for their upcoming productions log on to www.thebigtickle.com/leap/ and take the leap.