One of the biggest hurdles among local theater companies is attracting new audiences. How do you get someone who’d rather curl up with a good book or finish binge-watching “Stranger Things” to not only hear about a show but buy a ticket?
After all, in an overcrowded marketplace such as Dayton’s thriving arts scene, engaging the community and creating buzz is everything.
At the Human Race Theatre Company, Chad Wyckoff, 34, has become the troupe’s secret weapon. As the Audience and Community Engagement Manager, he has particularly built a stronger social media presence for the organization, fashioning entertaining previews/interviews with company organizers and cast members to generate interest with each show.
His work currently benefits the Race’s outstanding Midwest premiere of Brian Parks’ hilarious comedy “The House,” a wacky tale of a real estate feud gone haywire continuing through Nov. 19 at the Loft Theatre (visit humanracetheatre.org for additional information).
Actually, marketing and multimedia comes naturally to Wyckoff, a native Kansan and former New York City resident who also serves as Founder and President of Sixteen 37 Productions, a film, multimedia and marketing company.
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Here’s your chance to get to know this avid theatergoer, antiques lover and film buff better.
Meet our Daytonian of the Week.
Tell us about yourself?
I was born in a small Kansas town and attended Kansas State University. After university, I took additional courses and received film training at Columbia University, NYU and NY Film Academy.
What brought you to Dayton?
Dayton was more of an unscheduled layover between New York City and one of two cities I planned to move to. A good friend from New York was offered a job as head designer at a company in the Dayton area two years before I decided to leave NYC. I had been working and moving up in the film industry for many years and decided it was time to move to the West Coast or, since my passion was independent film, Austin, Texas.
My friend invited me to spend the autumn with her while I made a decision. I had visited her in Dayton a year prior and enjoyed it very much, so I decided to take her up on the offer. Four years later, I’m still in Dayton. I have lived in Dayton awhile now and I’m glad I am still here. NYC is extremely busy and truly the city that never sleeps. However, I wasn’t able to be as involved with other projects I was passionate about. Dayton allows me to be more involved with the arts and hopefully make a larger impact on the community. After a few visits to Dayton, my parents decided to move here as well.
When did you join the Human Race Theatre and what are your chief responsibilities?
I joined the Human Race Theatre nearly two years ago. I was looking to become involved with the local arts on a more professional level. I’m the Audience and Community Engagement Manager. ACE Manager for short. I develop and implement social media campaigns, organize and execute promotional video, and set up press interviews and TV appearances for the actors. My main objective is to engage and grow our audience.
What do you enjoy the most about the Human Race Theatre?
I enjoy the talent that comes through the theater. Back in NYC, I would meet and work with around 50 actors a week. I missed those connections and it’s great to have that again.
What do you feel are the best tools to secure audiences of all ages and varying demographics in the digital age? At the same rate, what are the challenges?
Securing a diverse audience is always difficult. In my experience, it isn’t what you are marketing to people — it’s how you market it. You may be pushing one product, but you need 20 ways of presenting it to 20 different audiences. That’s what we do. We break down our audience demographic and build campaigns around each one. The biggest challenge is the amount of content you compete with. You are literally swimming in a sea of digital content.
No social media platform is equal and you have to know what works for each. When you are a nonprofit it can be more difficult to capture people’s attention due to small advertising budgets. You are drawn out by ads that are backed by massive budgets. So, you have to create content that stands out, know when your audience is browsing social media, and engage with them.
What do you love the most about Dayton's arts scene?
The amount of art. I have yet to see everything. Shortly after moving here I met quite a few people who would say, “There’s nothing to do in Dayton.” In response I would name off a few places I enjoyed. They would look at me blankly and ask, “Is that new?”
In what ways would you like to see Dayton's arts scene improve?
I would like there to be more awareness of what Dayton has to offer artistically and I would like to see more support from the community. Also, as a film professional, I would love to see a film studio built in Dayton that would encourage more production companies to come here. We have the tax incentives, but we do not have all the resources needed.
What are some of your favorite Dayton spots/hangouts?
Coco’s Bistro! It’s my Midwestern P.J. Clarke’s.
Karen Wick-Gagnet was one of the first Daytonians I met and her love of Dayton and the arts is one of the many reasons I decided to stay. I also love Century Bar, The Pine Club, Ghostlight Coffee, DAI, Dayton View Historic District, Historic South Park, and Antiques Village. I’m an antiques junkie.
What do you feel is the biggest misperception about Dayton?
Some people say that there is nothing to do in Dayton. Again, I laugh every time someone says that. I moved here from NYC and I find plenty of new and exciting things to do. You just have to get out there, explore, and get involved.
What inspires you the most about Dayton?
The people. I currently serve as VP of the Dayton View Historic Association, serve on Dayton History’s Bell Board, and have volunteered with other nonprofits in the area. Every person I encounter is outrageously passionate about Dayton. Their vision for the future of Dayton is another reason I decided to stay. I want to be a part of that change.
What does Sixteen 37 Productions entail and what is its mission?
I founded Sixteen 37 Productions three years ago when I decided to start producing my own work. This is something I never would have had the time for in NYC. The name is actually the year my family, the Wyckoff family, settled in the NYC area, what was then known as New Amsterdam. I was visiting our family’s first home, which is now a museum in Brooklyn, and I thought, “Why not call it 1637?” After consulting with a design artist and brand manager back in NY, I decided to spell out half of it and leave the last half numerical. Thus began Sixteen 37.
The company caters mostly to small businesses and nonprofits that cannot otherwise afford or do not wish to deal with outside marketing firms. We are dedicated to producing original, unique, and imaginative film and multimedia content for clients large and small. We also produce film and web series. Our latest project, We’re Here Now, is set right here in Dayton. You can catch it on YouTube.