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“Tweet Seats” In Audience Allow Twitter During Live Performances

Submitted by on December 10, 2011 – 4:39 pmNo Comment

Arts organizations are always trying to stay on the cutting of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, to stay competitive in an era of aging audiences and budget cuts. But some are taking the next step and encouraging their audiences to use social media too- in the middle of the performance. Could that pesky pre-show announcement about turning off mobile devices soon be a thing of the past?

USA Today reports on the phenomenon of “Tweet Seats,” seats in an audience specifically designated for members who would like to use the microblogging site during the show. Arts groups, including symphony orchestras, musical theaters, and outdoor acting companies, cite a variety of reasons for engaging social media in this way, from creating a more interactive experience to generating more traffic and publicity for the company.

The article does note that Connecticut’s Goodspeed Opera House places their tweet seats in the back of the audience, so as not to disturb other attendees.

Social media is certainly a hugely influential part of any business plan these days, but if this article is any indication, it doesn’t seem like these arts groups quite have a cohesive intention yet. There’s little proof that higher hashtag traffic will increase a theater’s viability, or that this flow of information truly enhances audience experience and brings in new members.

One spokesperson quoted in the article alludes to the artistic possibilities of social media when he says that the arts are becoming more “participatory.” And surely, some theaters could find exciting and meaningful ways to incorporate online feedback immediately into a performance; but this does not seem to be the focus of many of the groups.

Finally, at least one woman states the obvious when she complains that the tweeters seated next to her “were watching their handheld devices” so much that “they missed out on what was happening on the stage.” And it’s no picnic for the performers either, who are sometimes only feet away and are well aware when individual audience members start clicking on their phones. If audiences at least give performers a chance, they might find they have more reason to keep paying attention.

What do you think? Would you buy tickets to tweet seats? Would you want to sit next to one?

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