What Free Can Do For You!

Now entering its fifth year, the Free Night of Theater program has been a big success across the country. Check out what the American professional not-for-profit theatre community, as well as the new audience members, have to say about the value of Free Night.

National Managing Partners

Austin Circle of Theaters – Austin, TX

We are so proud to be part of this program. Knowing that Austin is playing a pivotal role in shaping the theatre experience for our country is very exciting! Opening the doors of our theatres here in Austin and creating new audiences is an important part of ACoT's mission.

Latifah Taormina, Executive Director

League of Charleston Theatres – Charleston, SC

The League of Charleston Theatres has been very pleased with the Free Night of Theater program over the past two years. We increased the number of tickets available this year, all of which were reserved in less than 10 minutes. We were especially thrilled to collect contact info for those wanting to be added to a waiting list. We experienced very few complaints and many theatres have already begun to see the results – Free Night participants with positive theatre experiences are now willing to buy full priced tickets!

Emily Wilhoit, Executive Director

Connecticut Statewide Theatre Collaboration

Free Night of Theatre rebounded in a big way in Connecticut in 2008. We increased the number of participating venues, doubling the number of tickets, and took advantage of the many tools that TCG provides for a successful program. Over 1,000 tickets were snapped up in under an hour. Of the participating theatres, 92% have indicated satisfaction with the program and are looking forward to participating in the future. Many theatres are already reporting new ticket sales and subscribers from first-time attendees. So, mission accomplished!

Jacques Lamarre, TheaterWorks (Hartford) and Free Night 2008 Connecticut Coordinator

City of Dallas, Office of Cultural Affairs

Dallas' inaugural Free Night of Theater was a resounding success. The awareness of, and excitement for live theatre that the program generated, reached well beyond those lucky enough to claim one of the 4,700 available tickets. Free Night was the perfect opportunity for Dallas to celebrate and build upon the contributions the theatre community has made to the city's cultural landscape.

Greg McPherson, Cultural Programs Coordinator

LA Stage Alliance – Los Angeles, CA

LA Stage Alliance is very pleased to continue to participate in TCG's Free Night of Theater program. We support any initiative that brings new audiences to our member performing arts organizations, and allows our members to unify, inspire, educate and entertain patrons through the unique shared experience of live performance.

Terence McFarland, Executive Director

Theatre Bay Area – San Francisco/Sacramento, CA

Since the campaign's pilot year here three years ago, we have seen an extraordinary response from theatres, audiences and the whole community. The demand for live theatre—when it's made accessible to all—is overwhelming. We're bringing in new audiences—young people, people of color, people from all walks of life—and the research tells us they are going back for more. Free Night of Theater has thrown the doors of our theatres open wide.

Brad Erickson, Executive Director

Theatre Puget Sound – Seattle/Greater Puget Sound

In Seattle, Theatre Puget Sound (TPS) – which joined the program in 2006 – has used the momentum of Free Night to launch a broader week-long festival in the Greater Puget Sound area. Live Theatre Week has succeeded in attracting newer and younger audiences while significantly raising the visibility of theatre in their region through a comprehensive media campaign. The program has also increased TPS' visibility, thus attracting sponsor, foundation, and in-kind support well beyond previous years.

Karen Zeller Lane, Executive Director

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Participating Theatre Companies

ACT Theatre – Seattle, WA

In the greater Seattle area, we've been able to leverage local efforts to increase visibility for our theatres by including TCG's Free Night of Theater as part of "Live Theatre Week," a region-wide program. It's a great opportunity to celebrate our vibrant theatre community and to combine the efforts of many theatres to build audiences."

Kevin M. Hughes, Managing Director

Alliance Theatre – Atlanta, GA

Mark Shugoll's national research on this program is truly dazzling in its evidence that the philosophy behind Free Night of Theater really works – that people who never thought of theatre as an art form for them are invited in and that first-time experience translates into a practice of theatergoing. That's a radical event and one we're thrilled to be a part of.

Susan Booth, Artistic Director

Arena Stage – Washington, DC

Arena is proud to include TCG's Free Night of Theater in our repertoire of community outreach programs. It provides the opportunity for a broader audience – one that may not attend theatre on a regular basis – to be introduced to the excitement of live theatre. Free Night has been a foot-in-the-door for many new audience members, and that's something that benefits us all!

Molly Smith, Artistic Director

American Conservatory Theater – San Francisco, CA

Free Night of Theater is an exhilarating opportunity for A.C.T. and the entire Bay Area theatrical community. It's a chance to not only reach out to new audiences, but to engage the audiences we share in a cohesive and welcoming way. For those who attended their local community theater for the first time, or those who were introduced to a company they'd never explored before, Free Night is an example of how, as a community, we work towards the collective goal of providing access to the arts throughout the Bay Area.

Randy Taradash, Promotions Manager

The Colony Theatre Company – Los Angeles, CA

ANYTHING that exposes our theatre, and live theatre in general, to new audiences is worth doing and we will forever participate in that mission. We placed materials specifically for the Free Night patrons in our programs, and incorporated Free Night into our nightly curtain speech. Having more than half of the audience be brand new to our theatre was very important!

Trent Steelman, Managing Director

Dallas Children's Theater

The acquisition of new customers is vital these days and most of the people who came had never been to the DCT or Rosewood Center before – many had not even heard of us! … Being able to gather contact information for those new folks, and knowing that they fully understand what we do, is a boon for growing our data base. Also, being given the opportunity to work together as a true theatre community in Dallas, along with the exchange of ideas and help between theatres, was very beneficial. In addition, the flexibility of programming made it possible for us to participate.

Lisa Schreiner, PR Director

Indiana Repertory Theatre – Indianapolis, IN

As the largest theatre in the state, the IRT is a critical member of the League of Indianapolis Theatres and were happy to participate in the Free Night program. We were delighted at the speed with which the tickets were claimed after they went "on sale" and looked forward to finding out the mix of people who'd be attending. It turns out most of the people who came to the performance had not been to the IRT before. The reaction to the show was wonderful and we're so happy to report that with the help ofthe 2-for-1vouchers for Tuesdays with Morrie that we handed out when people claimed their tickets, 66 of the 144 who attended the Free Night have already come back!

Megan McKinney, Senior Marketing and PR Manager

Florida Stage – Manalapan, FL

At Florida Stage we felt we had a very positive experience with the Free Night program. We had a very low no-show rate and in conversation at the act break with many of the attendees they seemed very excited and wanting to talk about our next play and how one becomes a subscriber. I could not have asked for more.

Michael Gepner, Director of Marketing

Milwaukee Repertory Theater – Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee Rep has loved welcoming new customers to our three theatres during each of the Free Nights, and we believe it's a great way to introduce The Rep to those who haven't yet come to a play at The Rep. From our own research, we know that we reach a much younger and more diverse audience than those who already attend ... and that's great. We've managed to entice many of them to return to the Rep for more – Free Night of Theater is a success story."

Tim Shields, Managing Director

New Leaf Theatre – Chicago, IL

The results so far in participating in this program at New Leaf seem to be INCREDIBLY encouraging. We've been allowed to choose the nights where we make these tickets available and the tickets got snatched up almost immediately. Best of all, the data being collected by TCG means we've already been able to start building a relationship with these patrons before they come to see the show. I can't remember a marketing initiative that allowed us to connect with so many new patrons already interested in theater with a single effort. The proof will be in the pudding … but if we get even 50% of the folks on the books to show up, we'll be clamoring to do this again next year."

Jessica Hutchinson, Artistic Director

Oregon Shakespeare Festival – Ashland, OR

As a destination theatre in rural Southern Oregon, we are always faced with the challenge of creating programs to invite local audiences to attend our performances affordably. The Free Night of Theatre has become an anticipated event here in Ashland because it allows our local patrons to get excited about sharing what they love about OSF with their friends and family who have never been here before. It has been a popular and successful audience development tool for us, and a way to let all of our loyal patrons act as theatre ambassadors.

Mallory Pierce, OSF Director of Marketing & Communications

Pure Theatre – Charleston, SC

PURE Theatre spends less than .5% of our annual expenses on traditional marketing efforts. If in a single night, we are able to fill our theatre with theatre inclined, theatre participating individuals, and then over the course of the evening, 1) Celebrate the opportunity that is Free Night of Theatre, and live performance, 2) Have a handful of minutes to directly promote the work, vision, success of PURE, 3) Provide incentives to facilitate a continued relationship with PURE, 4) and last but certainly not least, have the chance to put our artistic money where our mouth is through excellence in theatre arts, for a whole new group of patrons, my only real question is why wouldn't we participate?

Sharon Grace, Artistic Director and Co-founder

Utah Shakespearean Festival – Cedar City, UT

Free Night of Theater was well received by both participants and the general audience that evening. Participants were happy to have the opportunity to attend the theatre, and several other audience members voiced appreciation of our efforts to build theatre audiences. This program will help us reach out and build audiences for tomorrow, so it is something in which we will continue to participate.

Kami Terry, Marketing Director

Zachary Scott Theatre Center – Austin, TX

ZACH Theatre has been a charter member of TCG's national initiative since 2005 and the Free Night of Theater program has been a great way to introduce ZACH Theatre shows to new patrons. It also offers an opportunity for patrons to see a show, risk free — one that they might not otherwise seek out due to ticket price or availability. Not only have we gained exposure with our local audiences, but national exposure for Austin as well. We have pride in the ongoing success of the program.

Jim Reynolds, Marketing/PR Director

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Theatregoer Feedback

"This is such an amazing program. Thank you so much for getting me back out into the theatre community." Kiran

"I attended a venue close to my home, but one I'd never been to before. The play provided a wonderful evening's entertainment…Thank you for making this exploration into such a local theatre such a surprising treat." Lynn

"Thanks for the free tickets! It was a great way to get us hooked on going to the theatre – we are planning on buying tickets to future shows!" Hung-Yee

"I took advantage of Free Night and attended a production at one of the smaller local theatres. Free Night of Theater is a fantastic opportunity to explore some of the smaller or newer theatre companies, absolutely risk-free. I've enjoyed my exploration of some of these companies in the past year!" Annie

"The Free Night of Theater promotion is great! It's a great way to check out productions at theatres you haven't been to before. My daughter and I had a great time and have gone back to the theatre since then to see other productions." Susan

"Prior to my Free Night experience, I hadn't been to a performance in many years, now I go so often that it's become a part of my regular entertainment regime. I think Free Night of Theater is a good way to introduce non-theatregoers to theatre and to revive the interest of those who stopped attending. It worked for me and I have been going ever since." Benita

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