Each of the 26 performing arts organizations selected to be a part of the foundation’s Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative will receive grant support to fund at least two “continuous learning cycles” of work over four years. As part of this initiative, these arts organizations will conduct initial audience research into their target audiences, develop and implement a new audience-building program, conduct additional audience research, study the results and then use the findings to adapt and implement a second cycle of programs. The grants listed below will fund the first cycle, which will last between 12 and 22 months, or, in a few instances, the audience research necessary to complete the planning for the first cycle. Next phases of work will be funded through subsequent grants. (In a few instances, some arts organizations are receiving smaller grants that will fund only the audience research necessary to complete the planning for their first-cycle work; these will be followed by grants to support carrying out the first-cycle work.)
Founded in 1958 by choreographer and dancer Alvin Ailey, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has built on his legacy by presenting modern dance performances by many different choreographers in more than 70 countries, as well as providing training to dancers and arts education to school-aged children. In 2008, the Ailey organization was named the “Cultural Ambassador to the World” by a U.S. Congressional resolution; and, in 2014, the White House posthumously awarded Alvin Ailey the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation’s highest civilian honor. Led since 2011 by its third artistic director, Robert Battle, the company seeks to break down perceived barriers to engagement with the arts, including race and class. New Wallace funding will support efforts to expand the number of audience members in the 21-to-30 year-old age group: the initial plan includes testing opportunities to organize special programs and performance-related social events and to investigate different ticket prices with millennial audiences.
ASU Gammage is a performing arts organization that has been located on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus since 1964. Its Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium is considered to be Frank Lloyd Wright’s last public commission. It offers a wide variety of programming, including Broadway hits and works by contemporary artists, ranging from Philip Glass to choreographer Koto Yamazaki, all intended to engage students and the surrounding community. With Wallace funding, ASU Gammage aims to cultivate and retain a larger audience for contemporary programming with an eye to groups typically underrepresented in their hall. The initial grant funds research that will be used to design first-cycle work; subsequent grants will support the planned activities.
Characterized by The New York Times as “a small company with big ambitions,” Ballet Austin, founded in 1956, attracts 42,000 attendees to its performances every year. In 2000, with the hiring of choreographer Stephen Mills as artistic director, Ballet Austin intensified its focus on the creation and performance of new and contemporary works. With support from Wallace, the company intends to better understand the potential for interest in these new, unfamiliar works among its current audience. Using what it learns from audience research, it then proposes to focus on educational and social activities and digital marketing strategies to broaden the audience for new ballet.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1916, attracts 350,000 audience members yearly. Music Director Marin Alsop, the first woman to lead a major orchestra in the U.S. and a major proponent of audience-building efforts, leads a concert series in which she explains and illuminates works for the audience before they are performed. As it approaches its Centennial, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will use Wallace funding to launch a new concert series with performances of contemporary classical music paired with a performance from “indie” rock or pop artists. Designed to attract a younger, more culturally diverse audience, the series will include educational activities and opportunities for socializing.
Based at the University of California, Berkeley, Cal Performances got its start in 1906 with a performance by actress Sarah Bernhardt to help rebuild public morale after the San Francisco earthquake and fire in April that year. Over the subsequent century, Cal Performances grew to become the largest, multidisciplinary performing arts presenter in Northern California. Since 2013, it has taken a more active role in producing and commissioning new work. Building from successful programming that attracts undergraduate students, Cal Performances intends to use Wallace funding to increase its audience by attracting recently graduated young professionals, ages 23-25. Audience research will help the organization better understand if artist selection and specially designed programming are factors in driving increased attendance and engagement.
Founded in 1976 and housed in the Warehouse Arts District of downtown New Orleans, the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) is a multidisciplinary arts organization dedicated to the presentation and promotion of the “art of our time,” including live theater, dance and music; art exhibitions representing local, national and international artists across all mediums; and extensive education and public programs for adults and children. As part of the new initiative, CAC will work to attract the growing, local community of young African Americans, a group historically underrepresented in the CAC’s performance programs, by launching educational and social programs that promote lively interaction between performing artists and the community.
Under the decade-long leadership of Artistic Director Kent Thompson, the resident theater company of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts has placed a premium on commissioning new work. Since its founding in 1979, the company has introduced 40 new plays and premiered more than half of them as full productions. In 2010, the company also launched a theatrical testing center, Off-Center @ the Jones, with an aim to find new approaches to attracting 18-34 year olds – Denver’s fastest growing population. As part of the Wallace initiative, the company plans to learn more about the millennial generation through these Off-Center activities and audience research, before creating a new mainstage production that will serve as a model for millennial-focused programming.
The Goodman Theatre, founded in 1925, has produced more than 60 world premieres over the past 15 seasons, including David Mamet’s American Buffalo in 1975. One of Goodman’s distinctive features is its “artistic collective," a group of nine playwrights, directors and actors who define the Theatre’s artistic direction. As part of the Wallace initiative, the company will look to increase its audience for new works. Building on those patrons who have shown some interest, Goodman will experiment with creating stronger bonds with this target audience by providing greater access to playwrights and artists and populating the theater’s website with video and related content.
Based on the University of California, San Diego campus since 1983 and founded 1947, the La Jolla Playhouse has garnered a number of Tony Awards for plays that transferred to Broadway. The Playhouse itself is a recipient of a Tony for best regional theater. To reflect the changing demographics of the greater San Diego area and to address stagnant audience numbers, the theater plans to use Wallace funding to increase diversity within its audience by commissioning and presenting new works that tell the stories of people across San Diego’s multicultural landscape and testing nontraditional marketing efforts.
One of the nation’s leading orchestras, the Los Angeles Philharmonic was founded in 1919 and currently is heard by more than 1.5 million Southern Californians yearly. It also presents its work across the nation and on the international stage through touring, recording and digital media. Through concerts, educational programs and other activities taking place at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Hollywood Bowl and other venues, the Philharmonic will use Wallace funding to establish stronger relationships with infrequent attendees (many of whom are single-ticket buyers) by experimenting with changes to the traditional concert format and providing pre- and post-concert activities to more deeply engage with attendees.
Founded in 1954, Lyric Opera of Chicago aims to promote the transformational power of great opera, provide a relevant cultural service to Chicago and the nation and advance the art form’s development. As part of the Wallace initiative, the company plans to test ways to increase its audience by creating programmatic and marketing bridges among its three program strands: American Musical Theater, which offers one production each season of a classic work; traditional operatic programming; and Lyric Unlimited, a program that seeks to advance the development of the field by exploring how opera can resonate more powerfully with people of multiple ethnicities and interests.
Since 1842, the New York Philharmonic has ranked among the world’s top orchestras. In the 2014-15 season, it expects to reach some 50 million people through live concerts in New York City, worldwide tours, digital downloads, broadcasts and varied educational activities. With Wallace funding, the organization will experiment with ways to expand its reach to younger audiences by presenting concerts specially created for this audience, spotlighting young talent and through new engagement activities, including informal chamber concerts announced primarily through social media.
The Oakland East Bay Symphony has a 26-year history in the San Francisco Bay Area and reaches more than 60,000 people every year with its performances and education programs. It places a special emphasis on engaging young artists and performing works by first-time composers and focuses on bringing in diverse audiences. As part of the Wallace initiative, the Oakland East Bay Symphony seeks to deepen and sustain relationships with new audiences from the area’s increasingly diverse population, first by conducting audience research to better understand opportunities to successfully engage with various communities. The initial grant funds research that will be used to design first-cycle work; subsequent grants will support the planned activities.
Created in 1975 with the merging of the Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company and the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company, Opera Philadelphia is now the city’s only organization producing large-scale opera. It has in recent years begun a number of ambitious undertakings, most notably its commitment, beginning in 2012, to commission and produce an American opera each season for 10 years. In June 2015, it will stage the world premiere of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird. With Wallace funding, Opera Philadelphia will conduct research to better understand how the artistic programming and marketing of its opera productions appeals to specific audience segments.
Since its founding almost 40 years ago, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL) has staged 24 world premieres and 23 American premieres. The company has a strong commitment to building an audience that reflects the diversity of the broader St. Louis communities it hopes to serve. With Wallace funding, OTSL plans to engage a younger more diverse audience by broadcasting selected performances and performing outside of its hall including places of worship. This initial grant funds research that will be used to design first-cycle work; subsequent grants will support the planned activities.
Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB), founded in 1972, is one of the largest ballet companies in the U.S. It also runs a dance school and offers a variety of education programs. A participant in the Wallace Excellence Award initiative (2008-2012), PNB saw significant success in its work to increase outreach to teens and young adults, documented in the recently published Wallace case study, Getting Past “It’s Not For People Like Us”: Pacific Northwest Ballet Builds a Following with Teens and Young Adults. As part of the new initiative, the ballet company will focus its efforts on young professionals, ages 25 to 40. It will enlist a group from the demographic to help inform the presentation of new dance works that will be presented in the Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park, a location new to PNB performances.
The 98-year-old Pasadena Playhouse is one of the oldest theaters in the U.S. It is also home to the Wells Fargo Theatrical Diversity Project, a 10-year-old initiative to cultivate writers, designers, performers and audiences from cultural backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the nonprofit arts. As part of the Wallace initiative, the company seeks to develop stronger ties to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders of their region through productions that better resonate with these communities and through the cultivation of meaningful relationships within each community.
Founded in 1988 as the northern branch of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Portland Center Stage (PCS) became an independent theater in 1994, aiming to bring “stories to life in unexpected ways.” PCS produces an annual season of plays that range from Shakespeare and vintage musicals to world premieres of contemporary drama. With Wallace funding, PCS will look to deepen relationships with current audiences and attract greater numbers of 25-40 year-olds with newly commissioned plays, based on Northwest history and culture, along with related educational and social activities.
San Francisco Performances (SFP) has been a leading cultural institution in the Bay Area since 1979. The organization presents both internationally acclaimed and emerging artists in performances of jazz, contemporary and classical music, as well as contemporary dance. As part of the new initiative, SFP will look to build a new audience among the many newly arrived residents in its growing downtown area. It will present programs by emerging artists in intimate settings – including clubs and small theaters – reflecting the lifestyle of the target audience.
Founded in 1963, Seattle Opera is a leading opera company in the U.S., particularly known for its productions of works by Wagner. A participant in the Wallace Excellence Award initiative (2008-2012), the company saw significant success in its efforts to deepen engagement with audiences through new digital initiatives, documented in the recently published Wallace case study Extending Reach with Technology: Seattle Opera’s Multi-Pronged Experiment to Deepen Relationships and Reach New Audience. In the new initiative, Seattle Opera intends to increase attendance of millennials and “baby boomers” with new approaches to production conception, design and presentation, as well as strategic communications and newly designed educational activities.
One of the major U.S. symphony orchestras since its founding in 1903, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra presents 200 performances annually to audiences of more than 315,000 people. It is led by Music Director Ludovic Morlot, a protégé of conductors Bernard Haitink, Seiji Ozawa and James Levine. It intends to use Wallace funding to build on its already successful Bold programming series, which targets a growing young, urban population. The Symphony will seek to learn about the preferences of this group and develop new programs to increase the audience not only for the new concert series, but across all of its offerings.
Since its founding in 1976, Steppenwolf Theatre Company has grown into an ensemble of 44 actors, writers and directors, producing nearly 700 performances and events annually in its three Chicago theater spaces. This includes a five-play Subscription Season, a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season, a First Look Repertory of New Work and Visiting Company programs. Steppenwolf is the only theater to receive the National Medal of Arts, in addition to an Illinois Arts Legend Award and 12 Tony Awards. A participant in the Wallace Excellence Award initiative (2008-2012), Steppenwolf was highly effective in deepening relationships with its audience by developing an ongoing conversation about the work on stage, documented in the 2011 Wallace case study Building Deeper Relationships: How Steppenwolf Theatre Company Is Turning Single-Ticket Buyers Into Repeat Visitors. In this initiative, the Theatre looks to engage a younger audience (those born between 1965 and 1979) by launching a new performance and education center designed to create a hub of activity for audiences and community members. (This initial grant funds research that will be used to design first-cycle work; subsequent grants will support the planned activities.)
Founded in 1879, the University Musical Society (UMS), which is affiliated with the University of Michigan but independently governed, is one of the oldest performing arts presenters in the country. Today, UMS presents music, dance and theater performances annually, as well as concert-related educational activities. It will work to engage a growing community of younger professionals with its Renegade series, which presents innovative, risk-taking works in alternative and unexpected places.
Victory Gardens Theater is a regional theater company that focuses on new works by contemporary American playwrights, hosting almost 300 mainstage productions since its founding in 1974. The theater has undertaken a new focus on stories that resonate with Chicago’s diverse cultural communities. As part of the new Wallace initiative, Victory Gardens Theater will use programs informed by a local council comprised of business, academic and cultural leaders from communities throughout the city and across diverse communities to build audiences and connect them with stories beyond their own.
The Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company was founded in 1980 to present works that take risks and challenge audiences. Among other recognitions, Woolly has received 10 Helen Hayes Awards for Outstanding New Play, as well as an award for Outstanding Director given to Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz for his production of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner for drama, Clybourne Park. In 2005, Woolly moved into its first permanent home in the heart of downtown Washington. With Wallace funding, the company seeks to attract new audiences with the help of a cadre of community ambassadors, educational activities and newly designed marketing.
Founded in 1990 by South African Maure Aronson, World Music/CRASHarts (WM/CA) has introduced some one million people to artists from more than 70 countries through performances of world music, jazz and contemporary dance. WM/CA views culture as a vehicle for social change and seeks to help people of all cultures experience freedom of self-expression and the exchange of ideas. With Wallace funding, it will inaugurate its first global music festival for young, culturally and ethnically diverse audiences. The project will experiment with pre- and post-festival activities beyond the music, exploring ways to engage this group during the festival and to inspire an ongoing relationship with its other offerings.