Separating your cats from your dogs: audience development at This Way Up Morning 1

This Way Up 15 is well and truly underway, the morning sessions are over and the atmosphere is alive and buzzing with conversation about what we’ve covered so far.

We kicked off with a welcome and introduction to this year’s venue, the fantastic HOME, from Director and CEO, Dave Moutrey, followed by an overview of the days ahead from this year’s lovely MC, Gaylene Gould, who talked about her decision to leave the film industry previously and her excitement at the new and innovative thinking that is emerging as the exhibition sector and the world around it continues to change.

Next, our keynote provocations offered some serious food for thought around the theme of audiences. First up, Anna Higgs, (executive producer High Rise, Duke of Burgundy) urged us to consider the audience as smaller sections or individuals, rather than one block that lumps everybody (all cats and dogs) together, and looked at the risk and reward involved in ‘crossing the streams’ to cater for this.

Following Anna, National Theatre Scotland’s Marianne Maxwell considered priority, necessity and what’s really important in developing audiences. When the usual audience development tools just aren’t available, what should be done?

BBC’s Nick North closed the provocations with a reminder that while audiences still value traditional platforms, piloting new approaches are key, and asked how the exhibition sector can adopt this – could cinemas actually be used to premiere premium TV content?

Next up was the first of the day’s panel sessions, running simultaneously. In Critical Condition, the panel considered the relationship between the critic and the sector – do critics still have the power to influence audiences and film distribution? Or with more and more platforms for debate with critcs and audiences becoming bolder in calling out critical opinion they don’t agree with, are their powers being eroded? Meanwhile, in F-Rated, our all-female panel discussed the role of women in the sector, questioning how we can work collectively to improve women’s representation on-screen and in audiences, and how to include men in doing this.

There’s lots more to come this afternoon, when we’ll be examining audience loyalty, what our baked goods are saying about us, and the neuroscience behind cinema. As always, you can follow the discussion on Twitter via @thiswayupcon / #TWU15, and if you can’t be in a session or have a question after the fact, don’t forget you can always submit questions and comments via slido.com.

See you this afternoon!