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|Lauren Keys • 8/10/16|
The Short Version: Artists are people who follow their passions, and they often want to date others who are just as passionate and can relate to their creative lives. The Stage, a U.K.-based media company dedicated to providing news and reviews on the performing arts, initially created Love Arts as a platform to connect actors, singers, and dancers. But it has since expanded to help other artists and art lovers find lasting romance. This full-featured niche dating site, which sees over 12,000 visitors a month, offers members the ability to find singles based on mutual interests and preferences (like age, location, and education) and individually ranks those factors for better match results.
Whether you’re an actor, singer, painter, or art lover, keeping up with your local art scene can keep you busy. Between auditions, rehearsals, and premieres, your schedule can book up quickly.
The busy lives of creatives often leave little room for dating or finding a relationship that can withstand such a lifestyle. Just take it from singer, songwriter, and actress Shannon Allen, who describes the love life of a creative as often non-existent.
The Stage, a U.K.-based media company that covers the performing arts industry, created its Love Arts dating site as a community to connect performers and has since expanded to include artists and art lovers, whatever their calling, interests, or location.
To learn more about the impact Love Arts has had on bridging artists with others who understand them, we spoke with Hugh Comerford, the Managing Director of The Stage. We also reached out to Duncan Cunningham, who oversees The Dating Lab, to hear how the infrastructure his white-label company built for Love Arts provides a better online dating experience.
“About four years ago, when we decided to dip a toe in the water with a dating site, it wasn’t in the strict conventional sense of people looking for a partner,” Hugh said of The Stage. “We thought there was potential for people to get together in groups and go to the theater.”
However, since its inception, Love Arts has transformed into more than just a site that brings together theater enthusiasts seeking a friend for the next premiere. Hugh explained that today the site helps users find friends and romantic relationships based on a common interest in the arts.
“Actors kind of live different lives compared to the rest of the population,” Duncan explained of Love Arts’ demographic compared to that of other sites The Dating Lab powers. “Their jobs come and go, their working routines can be outside the 9 to 5, and that puts problems on relationships.”
Duncan said The Stage approached The Dating Lab for help building a community for the people whose schedules may not be as conducive to traditional dating — whether they are on the stage themselves or simply frequent the theater.
Like most other dating websites, Love Arts requires you to confirm your email address before you can continue to create a profile, which is just one of the many safety measures the site has in place.
Another layer of security is the site’s membership in the Online Dating Association, or ODA. Since 2013, the ODA has set the standard for higher levels of accountability in the U.K.’s online dating industry.
“A few years ago, there were quite a few sites that were, shall we say, being economical with the truth — they were tempted to use fake profiles and things like that,” Duncan said. “And it gave the industry a bad name.”
The ODA works with the government, law enforcement, and data protection companies to establish best practices for online dating, according to Duncan. Because Love Arts is an ODA member, daters can rest assured they’re using a site that puts their safety first.
“We just felt that, with a title like Love Arts, we had a chance at it having a broader appeal,” Hugh said.
The steady growth they’ve seen over the years has begun to include practitioners of other art forms, such as digital design, and those who describe themselves as creative. A large feature set helps Love Arts users find matches beyond age and location to make connections on a specific type of artistic interest. In fact, you can even search users by birthday, which helps provide an instant ice-breaking opener.
“One of the things we feel we’re strong on is our matching algorithm,” Duncan said. On Love Arts, you not only complete a profile on yourself, but also on your ideal match. Within the ideal match profile, users can rank how important each feature is to them.
For example, you can set an age range and mark it as reasonably important, which will allow matches outside your range to be shown to you if they fit your other criteria. The ranking settings offer five preferences that range from “not important at all” to “non-negotiable.”
Currently, more women (54%) than men (46%) use Love Arts, which Duncan explained is pretty common among dating websites. He also pointed out that the Love Arts demographics have shifted to slightly younger, with about one-quarter of their users falling between the ages of 25 and 29.
It has always been free to create a profile on Love Arts, and they plan to lower the membership fees by about 25% to attract more members.
If you enjoy the stage or are a performer yourself, making time for dating can be a daunting task, which is why artists and art lovers alike turn to Love Arts in search of someone who will understand, appreciate, and share their passion.
Over the years, more users from outside of the U.K. and users with more varied creative backgrounds have joined Love Art, which speaks to the platform’s increasing popularity since it has been primarily promoted by The Stage.
Hugh said his team at The Stage has grown closer over the years to work together across every aspect of the company, including its dating brand, Love Arts. He proudly anticipates the growth they’ve seen on the dating platform, which now receives over 12,000 visitors a month, will only continue.