Make Dance Stick With You (MDSWY): DANCECleveland

Organization Name: DANCECleveland

City: Cleveland

Program Name: Make Dance Stick With You (MDSWY)

Time of Program: Evening or afternoon, at DANCECleveland performances

Program Length: Throughout the course of a given performance and up to 1 week after the performance to engage individuals online.

Goal: To offer the general audience a way in which to express their experience at a live dance performance in a format that allows participation at any level. To increase their comfortability reacting to dance and sharing candid and honest responses to their experience.

Time of Year Offered: During DANCECleveland Dance Performance Series

Program Description:

Make Dance Stick With you is an audience engagement program focused on being a catalyst to ignite conversation during and after a performance. Each audience member receives a sticky note attached to their program, with one of the following prompts on them, “What stuck with you?” or “In 3 words I saw…” Audience members can participate at will. There is a space designated in the lobby for audience members to attach their notes to. Following the performance, online conversations are influenced by the content shared via the sticky notes on social media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The program is intentionally branded to be easily identified and to encourage participation.

Number of Participants: A total of 500 individuals have participated to date over the course of 6 performances. MDSWY can be executed with large or small groups.

Target Audience: MDSWY includes audience members of all ages, education levels and gender. The program targets all individuals who attend DANCECleveland performances and DANCECleveland constituents.

Is the program for kids? Make Dance Stick With You sticky notes are distributed to all audience members and open to individuals of all ages. Its primary purpose is self-expression.

Private/Public Public

Nature of Audience Engagement: Participation starts right when the audience receives their playbill. Sticky notes are placed on the outside of the playbill which prompts audiences to read them as soon as they get into the theatre. Audience members anonymously write down their reactions on the sticky notes that have one of two prompts on them. “What stuck with you?” and “In 3 words I saw…” The audience members then place the sticky notes in a designated area. Audience members read the sticky notes, observe others interacting or start informal conversations while reading the posted notes. Active participation: • Written response to dance performance • Placing sticky notes in designated area • Informal conversations taking place among participants Passive participation: • Observing others participate • Silently reading the posts of others Online: • Commenting, liking and conversing about a MDSWY sticky note shared via social media—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Location: In the theatre lobby Online—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and e-blast

How Many Staff: A team of 3 staff members participated in the conceptualizing of the program. This was very important to the project’s inception in finding intention for the prompts provided. A project manager was in charge of the design and branding, coordination of purchasing materials and overseeing the distribution and set up of the program in the theatre. In order to market the program during the show, the full staff was needed to have one on one conversation with patrons to encourage participation at the performance.

Program Cost: The total cost to purchase the sticky notes for 6 performances was $280. Signage was donated by a local artist.

Marketing for Program: MDSWY was rolled out in the beginning of the season. Each playbill has 1 sticky note attached to the front. During the curtain speech, audience members are encouraged to participate and directed to where the sticky notes go. Informal conversations facilitated by DANCECleveland staff and Dance Advance Team members also encourage audiences to participate.

Cost for Program Participants: Purchase of a ticket for the performance and free for online participants.

Attendance To Date: 500 individuals and average of 10% of our audience per performance

Past Iterations: We have held 6 this year, which was the first season MDSWY was offered.

What works? There were many indicators of success, some quantitative and most qualitative. Over the course of 6 shows, nearly 500 individuals physically participated by providing feedback on the sticky notes, which is about 10% of our audience. The most successful aspect of the program was the ability to reach a broad range of diverse audience members that allowed for candid feedback and provided multiple ways in which audience members participate, actively, passively or online. We found that this program is accessible to audiences young and old with or without disabilities. When observing audiences members participating you could witness organic conversations amidst participants. “What’s your favorite?” “Did you see this?” Additionally, we saw that people would simply read the notes or even observe audience members participating. If you are planning on executing an iteration of this program, the biggest tip would be to make sure you create space for the program to happen. A space that is accessible and visible to audience members. In addition to creating space, we found in order to introduce the program to our new and current audience we need to create a brand that audiences could identify and expect. This doesn’t have to be a complicated endeavor. See pictures attached to view how DANCECleveland branded the program.

What doesn't work? Ensuring that you have enough pens and extra sticky notes accessible for audiences to participate is key. Often times individuals would want to fill out more than one or they may not have grabbed a playbill if attending with a group.

Performances Where Offered: Make Dance Stick With You is offered at all performances. Offering the program consistently gears audience members up to expect the program, generates excitement for participation and provokes thought on how they think about their experience.

Past Research on Program: No

Continuing Program? Yes, the project is relatively inexpensive and has great feedback from all areas of our audience. This is also a great opportunity to look at the language audience members are using to describe a performance and evaluating how that language could potentially impact how we communicate via marketing.

Additional Comments:

For future iterations, DANCECleveland is exploring the potential role of a facilitator within this program. Much of our experiment with this pilot program allowed us to make observations and think of ways in which we can enhance the audience experience and participation. We are exploring adding a facilitator or provocateur to the mix to ignite more conversation and participation. When asking ourselves, “What role would this facilitator play and how would he or she navigate it in the most organic and genuine way that is non intimidating.” we are exploring what types of questions could stimulate these interactions that could potentially ignite a deeper conversation among audience members participating.

Resources & Links:

We are working out some technical difficulties related to this field. Check back by late October for any additional comments provided by this EDA grantee.
Please note that Supplemental Materials for many of the grantee projects are available via Google Drive, at this link:

Target Audiences General Audiences

Online Engagement In person