Mayflower campaign tackles audience behaviour

Published: 30 November 2023
Reporter: David Chadderton

Mayflower anti-abuse poster
Mayflower anti-abuse poster
Mayflower anti-abuse poster

Southampton's Mayflower Theatre has launched a public awareness campaign to encourage respectful audience behaviour towards theatre staff.

The campaign uses posters and digital screens that "picture individual friendly and dedicated team members, with reminders of appropriate behaviour, with a personal touch." The message will be backed up in pre-show e-mails to patrons and notices on the theatre's web site.

Michael Ockwell, Chief Executive and Creative Director explained, “the idea for this new campaign came after observing reports of audience behaviour issues in other venues across the country—from customers causing show stops, assaulting front of house staff and creating the need for police attendance. We asked for the views of our colleagues from across the organisation, including front of house staff, artistic and executive leadership and our marketing team, as it is important that our team feel safe in their job.

"Whilst we are fortunate in Southampton to see very few of these issues on a regular basis, we decided to reinforce our dedication to our staff by reminding our customers of the friendly faces of our organisation, what they do, and most importantly, that they’re human and doing their best to ensure that everyone has the most enjoyable experience possible.”

Tasha Finch, Head of Customer Operations added, “we wanted to be proactive with this campaign knowing that customer behaviour not only within our industry, but in all walks of life is getting more and more challenging. It was important for both of our venues to involve our staff, so they are represented in this campaign—these are real people on our front line. We have had so much positive feedback from our teams with this initiative and the messaging in the campaign is to enjoy your visit to our venues but be considerate and kind to the people who are there to help you.”

This follows recent events at Manchester's Palace Theatre, at productions of Hamilton and The Bodyguard, and Opera House, at I Should Be So Lucky, when some audience members were disruptive and abusive towards other spectators and theatre staff.

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