Backstage at The Lowry: Kate Fitzgerald, Visitor Insights Manager

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I don’t think there’s another organisation in Manchester that’s even remotely like The Lowry, for the breadth of what we provide in our programme and the amazing outreach stuff that we do.

I’ve always been really into the arts. Music has played a large part in my life – as a child I played piano and flute and got all my grades. I also did music A-level but didn’t want to pursue that as a career. My parents would also regularly take me to things like opera and ballet.

I have been here since I graduated and I’ve been in my current role since March.

I went to Lancaster University and between my second and third year there I got a summer job here at The Lowry through a temping agency, as the Learning and Engagement Assistant.

I did that for 10 weeks, went back to university, and just after I graduated The Lowry telephoned me and invited me to come and manage a project. And I’ve just never left!

Instead, I worked my way around – I went from Learning and Engagement to Box Office and Group Sales, then to Marketing as the Marketing Assistant. I worked my way up, becoming a Marketing Executive, then Print and Publications Manager, then Audience Intelligent and Brand Manager, and now I’m Visitor Insights Manager. In total, I’ve been here 12 years.

“Our Lowry is a wonderful scheme and the feedback we get from Salford residents is just lovely…”

I am responsible for getting information on all of our audiences, either from the Box Office system or by doing customer research.

I help the Marketing team here, plus anybody else within the organisation who asks me.

Visiting companies also come to me with requests for information about their audiences, and I also help produce figures and information that feed into our reports to the Arts Council and Salford City Council.

I think it’s really important we at The Lowry understand our audiences.

We can serve them much better and keep on improving things like customer service. We need to know if we’re falling down in certain areas, or if elsewhere we’re excelling.

If you know what an audience makeup is then it can help with the marketing of certain performances. It dictates where you do your advertising.

For example, a stand-up comedy attender may well read completely different newspapers and listen to different radio stations than somebody who visits the opera. All that information informs our marketing campaigns, and makes them more effective.

We look at our audience in the round but we also analyse them through different lenses.That’s based on us knowing about what types of work they come to.

Years ago people would talk to audiences about only one artform – if you came to a ballet you’d only be interested in ballet.

That’s not the case. We’ve found that someone who likes the ballet also likes other types of shows, but those might be more classical, like a performance of the ballet followed by a Shakespeare play or another form of classical drama.

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In the office, Kate drinks from an ‘I Heart Spreadsheets’ mug…

We look at our audiences through three lenses – Classical attenders (interested in opera, ballet, Shakespeare and so on), Contemporary attenders (new writing, contemporary dance, productions in a foreign language) and our Mainstream audience, which is pretty much everything else. 89% of our audience sits in one of those three categories only.

There’s a small but very highly-engaged group of people who come to all three different types of work. Part of Marketing’s job is to try and encourage those who are sat in one particular type of work to crossover into another and try something new.

At the moment we’re doing just that with our three big partner companies – Birmingham Royal Ballet, Rambert and Opera North.

We want to try to encourage BRB attenders to go and see Rambert and Opera North, and Rambert to go and see Opera North and BRB etc. It’s just one example of the challenge that is my job.

One of my absolute favourite parts of my job, and it always has been, is that I was part of the initial team that launched Our Lowry, the free membership scheme for Salford residents.

That was launched in 2009 and I’ve looked after it ever since. It’s a free scheme and it’s about giving people from Salford the chance to come and see things that they otherwise might not.

It’s all about discounted or even free tickets, and also money-can’t-buy opportunities – such as a winning a place to come to a private view of one of our new exhibitions in the galleries, or be in the audience for a private audience with Annie Lennox or Alison Goldfrapp.

It’s a wonderful scheme and the feedback we get from Salford residents is just lovely.

Working here at The Lowry, you get to see all sorts of stuff.

For me, the combination of the amount of art I get to see, as well as the people who actually work here and are all amazing, is why I choose to work here. It’s so much fun.

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