Item 11.2 - Attachment 2

Minutes of Riverside Advisory Committee 12 April 2012









Owen Eckford, Virginia Judge (retired 7.48pm), Luke Mackey, Julianne May (arrived 6.23pm), Keiasha Naidoo, Amanda Rose, Clr Michael McDermott, Clr Scott Lloyd,  Clr Andrew Wilson and Sue Coleman




Robert Love (Director Riverside Theatre), Pam Thornton (Business Manager), Suzanne Hannema (Marketing Manager), Nick Murphie (PCC Manager Communications and Marketing)

and Joy Bramham (Minute Clerk)




Apologies were received from Christopher Tooher and Jane Witter.


1          Welcome


Owen Eckford welcomed everyone to the meeting.  


2          Minutes


The Minutes of the meeting of the Riverside Advisory Board held on 9 February 2012 be taken as read and confirmed as a true record of the meeting.


3          Discussion Item – Marketing Riverside Theatre


Suzanne Hannema gave a presentation on Marketing at Riverside and specifically as it related to ticket sales. The main points from the ensuing discussion were as follows:-

·          Most marketing has been traditional (brochure, mail outs, banners, emails) but future focus on new media, interactive websites and email and site tracking to target interested audiences.  

·          Many people will attend one event only. The main ticket sales are not from the Parramatta LGA, but more towards the Hills District.

·          The need to improve e-communications to make a theatre experience more inclusive including blogs, discussions with producers as well as tracking interest from website clicks and being able to follow up. The new website should be completed by the end of June 2012.

·          The need to review old databases, including attendance and VIP guests is ongoing.   

Suzanne will email the three presentation questions to board members and feedback to be given to either Suzanne or Robert for comment next meeting.


The board discussed a number of issues arising from the presentation including the price of tickets in Western Sydney in general as compared to CBD prices.  Parramatta has an advantage over the CBD regarding prices and ease of access. 


Social media marketing was discussed as a way to encourage a new younger audience.  Concern was also expressed that existing, older audiences might be isolated if social media became the sole marketing tool. Nick Murphie noted that interactive sites need to be monitored and that interaction and dialog is key to making the sites work.


VIP guests and personal invites were discussed. The possibility of invitation saturation, and the need for VIP guests to bring something to the table and know why they have been invited are considered important.


The Board discussed marketing to hirers as well as ticket buyers.  It was noted that while Riverside is on the national performing arts circuit, local  hires come through word of mouth and such external  hires are a significant part of the income stream. The more interactive website will also include more information regarding hiring the venue. The Board discussed the possibility of promoting to new audiences by piggybacking on hirers’ audiences, especially hires that draw a large and diverse audience. The constraints of a single foyer were noted.


The possibility of packaging arts performances as part of a conference was discussed.   However, it was noted that Riverside currently does not have the capacity to produce small one-off performances of about 30 minutes. 


A future loyalty program was discussed. The current subscription offer is more for early bookers, but does not promote loyalty and additional purchases throughout the year. A shift towards a loyalty program would promote and facilitate repeat attendance.


4          Riverside Theatre 25th Anniversary      


Councillor Andrew Wilson noted that the there was an opportunity with the upcoming 25th anniversary to look for long term financial commitment at a State and Federal level as well as bringing together the friends of Riverside who have previously assisted (eg Bob Hawke and Ross Cameron).
The Board discussed how marketing this event needs early and using social media to reach out to the community for assistance in planning an event. 

A pre 25th Anniversary event could be used to position Riverside prior to the actual anniversary in 2013 by promoting in advance the need for new and alternative funding sources for future growth and success. The Board agreed that there would have to be careful consideration regarding the hosting of  an event and that people invited must know why they are bring invited and have something to bring to the table, or the exercise could potentially become counter-productive.


An alternative approach could be to commission an economic feasibility study for a new or upgraded theatre facility (including new employment opportunities both during the building of enhanced theatre facilities and as home for a permanent production vehicle in Western Sydney).


Riverside and Council need to produce a solid and professional business case that can be taken to State and Federal Governments when asking for future and increased financial support with an articulated vision for the future based on achievements to date.  This could build on the existing 2010-14 Strategic Plan, by developing one or more of the current action strategies. The potential for private and business support including naming rights for theatres, spaces, artworks or bricks was also noted.


The Board discussed the need to look at the current priorities of both State and Federal Governments and how any Riverside proposal would complement such priorities. It was noted that education is currently important to the State Government and Riverside could expand and use its education program to encourage attendance by younger audiences.


Parramatta has the capacity to become the premier arts precinct of Western Sydney. Parramatta is well located geographically and in close proximity to public transport. While parking is currently adequate there is room for improvement.  Parramatta is a key centre/hub for business growth in Western Sydney that will in turn support thriving and productive arts activity.


The Board discussed using the pre-anniversary period as a launch-pad for the next 25 years and for the development of future capital works project. The $10,000 allocated by Council for the pre-event could be used to facilitate the beginning of this process and present preliminary findings to Councillors and stakeholders to note the importance of Riverside Theatres. It was also noted that even if the anniversary cannot be used to assist in the capital project, that it is still a vehicle to drive future interest and participation in Riverside.




The Board proposes to Council that it support a week of 25th Anniversary activities in 2013 to celebrate Riverside Theatres achievements and focus on future audience and facilities development.


Before the next meeting, the Board requested that two additional workshop meetings be held to develop ideas for future capital projects using the 2010-14 Strategic Plan as a starting point.  Results of the meetings will be reported back to the next Board Meeting with a view to developing proposals for the Council to consider in relation to the 25th Anniversary of Riverside Theatres.


5          Operational report


There have been three good quarters with a $90,000 surplus, but the next quarter has a lot of Riverside programming and production so the budget  is still framed for a likely break-even result.


The third quarter surplus is a result of reallocations of employment costs, increased bar sales and a reduction in the marketing spend on advertising, However, these savings were in part offset by increased expenditure on systems and databases. 


The former Meat and Wine Co, now Ribs and Rumps restaurant, is being refurbished, and, as a result, Riverside has regained a room that can be used as a reception area for future VIPs and cocktail events.


ACM will be hired to do some work with graphic design for social media. They have experience with theatres and the use of social media.


Robert Love and Pamela Thornton had further discussions with the Ambassador Group that owns 35 theatres throughout the world. It is considering Riverside as a venue for future regional touring. There needs to be a feasibility study, but could generate a reliable few weeks hires in the future. 


The performance of other recent productions/hires were discussed including the James Valentine Quartet concert and upcoming shows such as Screen Café, “Behind the Lines” (the year’s best political cartoons), Dickens Women, Scooby Doo, Thanks God It’s On Stage, Parramasala and a Children’s Festival to be held in September.



Meeting ended at 8.32pm


Next Meeting

14 June 2012