How might we create a 21st Century theatre-going experience?

Inspirational Insight


National Theatre case study post it

National Theatre attendance grew by 24.76%


The Challenge

Culture has become competitive. Budget airlines, cinemas and department stores compete with art galleries, theatres and clubs for people’s time. With more consumers seeking different ‘cultural experiences’, the National Theatre needed to understand how to engage a younger, more dynamic audience to propel themselves into the 21st Century.

Sense Worldwide was engaged by the Executive Director to develop a future plan for The NT.


The Outcomes

We created a future strategy. The deliverable included a research synthesis, cultural industry dynamics, consumer attitudes and behaviors towards culture. From this, we delivered a detailed strategic plan.

The plan covered operational and marketing issues. From the brand, to signage, catering, merchandise and marketing. The document was debriefed at Board level to help inform and inspire the future development of the National Theatre.


The Result

By implementing recommendations from our report, annual attendance grew by 24.76% between 2012 and 2015 (from 2,347,000 to 2,928,000). A show-stopping result.

Since the first gift to the campaign, over 140,000 donations and grants have been made, raising £80 million for the NT Future project.


National Theatre Exterior


Our Approach

The approach began by developing a contextual understanding of people’s attitudes towards contemporary culture in the UK and their behaviors and experiences of consuming cultural products.

We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. To kick off the study we reviewed all existing audience research to develop a foundational understanding of the business. We then conducted extensive desk research and media scanning to understand the external factors shaping cultural experiences in the UK.

Once this foundational understanding was established, in collaboration with The Sense Network we explored the immediate and adjacent factors influencing the cultural industry. How the ‘entertainment’ landscape is composed from a consumer perspective.


How The Sense Network Helped

We invited members of the Sense Network to visit the theatre, attend a performance and use the facilities. We wanted to understand the good, the bad, and the ugly about the consumption of culture and the National Theatre itself.

We needed to understand how the building and environment were really being used from the moment it opened to the time it closed.


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