Your show is coming together nicely. You’ve got your cast and crew ready to go. Costumes are in progress. Rehearsals are running smoothly. But you’re forgetting one critical component – a program! Perhaps you think it’s an unnecessary addition or something that can be put on the backburner, but a strong program gives your audience a professional experience and makes a strong first impression. Not sure where to start? On The Stage has you covered.
What’s a Program?
Let’s get the baseline question out of the way first: What, exactly, is a show programme? Simply put, it’s a booklet available to your audience members. Filled with important show information and advertisements from your sponsors, the program is essentially your guests’ first look into your production.
Why You Need One
Some say art should speak for itself … but programs are a necessity when it comes to spotlighting your show. Here are a few reasons why you should invest the time and energy necessary to create a great one:
- First impressions: A program gives important information to your audience members about the show itself. Dropping patrons into a production with little to no knowledge of the show may lead to an inability to follow along. Your goal should always be to ensure the audience connects with your art, and a program helps to do that.
- Up-leveling quality: A program quickly and easily makes your show feel more professional. You don’t see a Broadway show with a program – so why should you go without?
- Credit where credit’s due: A program helps the cast, crew, and other staff feel appreciated and recognized for their hard work and accomplishments.
- Fundraising: Your program can be one of your strongest tools for raising capital. From selling advertising spots inside the program to creating a QR code to push merchandise sales on your website, the program can be your No. 1 ally for fundraising.
- Promotion: Along the same line, a program can further promote the great work your program is doing. That small but mighty booklet serves as a way to showcase previous and future works, as well as to promote your social media presence and website – driving clicks and creating a strong digital footprint.
- Old time’s sake: From a sentimental standpoint, a program can act as a souvenir for cast, crew and audience members after the curtain closes.
What’s In It?
- Basic show information: This should be front and center in your program. These tidbits include the show’s title, the dates the show runs, the location of the show, and any credits necessary – including the names of the original writers and composers of the work.
- Solid show artwork: Your choice of graphics is crucial to a solid program. On The Stage offers a vast library of photographs to make the process as easy as possible.
- Cast and crew credits: How much information you want to include about your cast and crew is up to you … and the size of your program. You can opt for simple descriptors of the person and their character, splurge with long biographies, or land somewhere in the middle.
- A quick summary of your show: Whether that’s a brief two-sentence synopsis or a more detailed look into the production (without giving too much away, of course), your program should act as a small teaser for the show.
- A spotlight on your sponsors: As previously mentioned, the program is an integral tool for fundraising. Your program should include paid advertisements from community partners. Additionally, supportive families may want to put out an ad congratulating their actor or crew member on a job well done.
- Self-promotion: Your program is a strong vehicle to get the word out about your theatre. You can also use your program to grow your audience by promoting your social media presence, website and merchandise,
How Can You Create a Program?
The great news about programs? They can be easy to make as long as you have the right tools. So, what are some ways to create your own?
In-house: If you’ve got a marketing team at your disposal, the job falls to them. If you’re part of a show’s leadership, make sure you collaborate with the team about decisions regarding cast and crew information, imagery and general content. Remember – a program can be as simple as a one-page flier, or it can span numerous pages. The choice is yours!
Outsource: If creating a program just isn’t something you have the time for, it’s easy to outsource the work to a freelance graphic designer or a near-by print shop. Remember to ask for bulk discounts if you’re ordering a hefty amount!
Do-It-Yourself: If you’re working on a smaller budget or without a team, there are a variety of ways to create a DIY program. Options abound for do-it-yourselfers, including the utilization of Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Docs..
Use a tool: A combination of doing it yourself and consulting the pros, an online tool can take elements you offer up and combine them together to make a top-of-the-line program in little time at all. On The Stage’s Showgram is a premier option that does just that and it’s free to our Empower plan customers.
Need Some Help?
If time’s ticking and you’re looking for an easy option that yields professional results, turn to OTS’ Showgram tool to create your next program.
Showgram, available as part of the On The Stage’s Theatre Empowerment platform, uses the information you already have available to easily create a program. Using the content of your already created OTS Show Site, Showgram will populate your program with your pre-picked artwork, merchandise and cast biographies.