Industry recognise that an untapped market exists amidst thriving alternative content audience.

The growing “hybrid art form” that is alternative content was a focal point at the inaugural This Way Up conference (Dec 2-3) at Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema last week.

The conference’s first breakout session, When is a cinema not a cinema? Alternative Content and its place in the programme, focused mainly on the future of alternative content and its potential to evolve.

Whether live or pre-recorded, theatre, opera and ballet productions are becoming bigger players at the UK box office.

National Theatre Live’s Emma Keith discussed the “challenge of not knowing who the audience is,” citing a major new research project to analyze audiences.

The new research will address how to tap into audiences that are not attending events and asks why they aren’t attending.

“The National Theatre tries to make prices more accessible, but it’s still cheaper to go and see something in the cinema,” she said. “So what’s the additional barrier that’s stopping people from coming in? That’s what we hope the research will answer.”

The panel also discussed how live events have captivated the UK audience, and ongoing problems within the niche market.

“The problem with live is you’re set on the date and the times,”said Picturehouse’s head of distribution Marc Allenby. “Working on finding good, live slots is always part of the back and forth.”

The session also featured John Wyver of RSC Screen, Thurso Cinema’s Rob Arthur, Marc Allenby and Joan Parsons from Showroom Workstation, with Tyneside Cinema’s Mark Dobson who moderated the discussion.

The event was created with the intention of giving exhibitors the chance to open a national film dialogue.