Competing against the likes of cinema and television, the marketing department of the Baxter Theatre, like theatres worldwide, have their work cut out for them. In a constant battle to get "bums on seats", the team's challenge is to stimulate interest while continually providing entertainment that appeals to a variety of audiences.
Fahiem Stellenboom is ready to meet this challenge head on. He was recently appointed the Baxter's new marketing manager and the position is somewhat of a homecoming for the UCT ballet alumnus and avid theatregoer who used to live in an apartment right across the road from the theatre complex.
"I've studied here, lived here, always enjoyed coming to the shows here and have a large group of close friends who are either in theatre, or who support and respect it, so it made sense for me to take this job. My soul is happy here."
Spend the afternoon with Stellenboom and you too will be caught up in his enthusiasm and dynamism. A bubbling personality coupled with an eclectic mix of marketing and public relations experience in the corporate world, he is not shy to express his amative feelings for all things "arty farty".
His experience includes being an advertising and graphic design executive, marketing and communications manager at global accounting firm KPMG and head of office for the Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs, Sport and Recreation. He also had a fulfilling career as a dancer, choreographer and dance director.
Not intimidated by the long hours demanded by the job, Stellenboom believes his strength lies in his ability to conduct a 360 degree audit of a situation before plunging into the process of goal setting and the development of a strategic marketing plan. He then turns his attention to ensuring that specific structures are in place to ensure these goals are met within budgetary constraints.
"The challenge of this job is to make theatre attractive and accessible and to concentrate on its packaging - how it is communicated to a cross section of people - while dealing with resource limitations. It's an exhilarating experience for me to be able to tap into the rich diversity of people in this city.
"My aim is to enhance the Baxter's reputation by creating a more dynamic and vibrant buzz. I believe this building has amazing potential, not only as a theatre venue, but also in its ability to host different events such as corporate launches, exhibitions and even weddings. "Every venue in the Baxter needs to be used to its optimum and this will liven the complex up ensuring an electric atmosphere," he added.
With the nature of the business being fast and exigent, Stellenboom and his staff have to prepare themselves.
"We have a busy year ahead of us," he explained. "We are jam-packed with high quality productions and excellent castings. It requires attention to detail and always finding workable solutions with win-win situations for all concerned.
"I would like to encourage the university community to visit us more often," he continued. "Attending theatrical performances is just as fundamental as going to lectures. The experience is live and there is always something to stimulate debate and discussion."
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