Fireside Chat: How Children's Theatre of Charlotte is bouncing back with online community insights

As a sponsor of the 2023 Qually Award, Recollective had the pleasure of co-hosting a fireside chat with the QRCA and award winner Lightbeam Communications to discuss this year’s pro-bono qualitative research project with Children's Theatre of Charlotte (CTC).

As a sponsor of the 2023 Qually Award, Recollective had the pleasure of co-hosting a fireside chat with the QRCA and award winner Lightbeam Communications to discuss this year’s pro-bono client research project with of Children's Theatre of Charlotte (CTC).

In this chat, we dove into a discussion on Lightbeam’s qualitative research approach of using an online community, the key tools that supported their project and the key learnings that were uncovered to help support the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte.

Keep reading for some key highlights from the discussion or watch the full fireside chat below.


Children’s Theatre of Charlotte has been adaptable and responsive to the interests and family entertainment needs of the greater Charlotte community for 75 years. Despite the theatre's return to normal operations post-pandemic, ticket sales and subscriptions for events and productions had not fully recovered.

In partnership with Tasheenah Brown and Antonio Lopez of Lightbeam Communications, the group aimed to address this problem with two main objectives through qualitative research:

  1. Gain insight into the decision-making process of current subscribers and attendees when choosing to see live shows.
  2. Understand the perceptions and opinions of individuals who have not attended the theatre and determine what would motivate them to do so.

A Multi-Phased Qualitative Research Approach

To tackle the complex problem of increasing ticket sales and subscriptions, Lightbeam Communications divided its research approach into three essential phases, each leveraging the capabilities of the Recollective platform.

Phase One - Stakeholder Interviews

Identify key Children’s Theatre of Charlotte stakeholders for interviews to assess and align research objectives and their vision for success.

Phase Two - Online Activity Board

Identify diverse caregiver perspectives on the Children’s Theatre and how the CTCfits into their lifestyle, as well as their motivations to purchase tickets and/or subscribe.

Phase Three - Virtual Listening Sessions / In-Depth Interviews

Further assess participant motivations and decision-making for ticket purchasing and/or subscribing.

Research Process with Online Communities

Lightbeam Communications took a comprehensive approach to truly understand the family values of CTC's target demographic.

The research process included a variety of Task Types within the Recollective online community including:

"The most standout feature for me was that automation piece. The screening tool was able to segment the respondents into the correct categories immediately. It took a lot time off our plates so we could designate that to analysis." - Tasheenah Brown, Research Analyst & Moderator, Lightbeam Communications

Additional Supporting Tools & Features

The flexibility and versatility of using Recollective for this project allowed for a smooth study design and comprehensive exploration of insights.

Some features that Lightbeam found particularly useful when using Recollective were:

  • Custom 1:1 Platform training
  • In-platform participant screening tool
  • Automated Summary and Analysis tools
  • User-friendly interface for participants, researchers and client observers

“We worked closely with Christian and Kristen [from the Recollective Research Services team]. They were so immensely helpful with helping us get prepared and doing a lot of that legwork upfront.” - Tasheenah Brown, Research Analyst & Moderator, Lightbeam Communications

Key takeaways

Through Recollective, Lightbeam was able to develop 4 key Cultural Archetypes that had an overwhelming impact on the way the Children’s Theatre could think about their customers and organization moving forward. To learn more about these findings and how the CTC has benefited from them, visit the QRCA for the full fireside chat recording.

About the Qually Award

Since 2011, QRCA has honored our creative problem solvers with a unique industry award. The QRCA Award for Excellence in Qualitative Research – more affectionately known as the “Qually” Award – recognizes industry innovation and qualitative best practices.

Over the years, the Qually Award has evolved into a pro bono collaboration with a live client. Previous benefactors include The Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation (Carlsbad, CA) and the Children's Theatre of Charlotte (Charlotte, NC). Through these collaborations, the nonprofit teams gain valuable insight into their organizational challenges and qualitative professionals acquire hands-on experience by developing a marketable case study.

Learn more about this year’s client and how to submit your proposal here.


Let's research happy together