This case study examines how The Clay Studio, a ceramic-arts studio, gallery and shop in Philadelphia, attracted younger audiences to its workshops and exhibits. In 2007, the studio became concerned that its audience was getting older and few newcomers were signing up for classes or making purchases. The studio then sought to engage younger professionals ages 25 to 45. Audience research helped identify elements of activities that could attract younger professionals, including flexible schedules, shorter courses and the ability to socialize. The studio therefore added new experiences such as “Date Night,” a Friday evening event where novices could experiment with clay in an informal environment. It also redesigned its website and print materials to emphasize the visitor experience rather than the skills participants might learn.

Five years later, the number of students taking classes tripled and revenue from the school more than doubled. Monthly workshops regularly sell out, and many newcomers have gone on to take longer classes.

But challenges remain. The organization must now balance the needs and desires of long-time students and collectors, who want to see the more serious side of Clay, with those of the newcomers, many of whom prefer a more social, informal experience.

This publication is part of a set of case studies and reports looking at the efforts of arts organizations that received Wallace Excellence Awards to reach new audiences and deepen relationships with current ones. In three accompanying videos, Clay Studio president Chris Taylor and Magda Martinez, the program director of Fleisher Art Memorial, another Philadelphia arts organization that received a Wallace Excellence Award, discuss their audience-building efforts.

 Points of Interest

  • Informal courses, flexible schedules and interactive formats helped to triple the number of students taking classes at Philadelphia’s Clay Studio and double revenue from its school.
    Casual classes, interactive formats bring newer, younger audiences to Philadelphia’s @theclaystudio. #arts
  • Enrollment and class revenue balloon at Philadelphia’s Clay Studio after it encourages hands-on experimentation, conducts audience research and creates a welcoming environment for new visitors.
    Experimentation, audience research & a welcoming environment help boost interest in Philly’s @theclaystudio #arts
  • After successful efforts to attract new faces to its offerings, The Clay Studio is now seeking to strike the right balance between accommodating the needs and desires of this group and the needs and desires of its longstanding students and visitors.
    In audience building, @theclaystudio seeks right balance bt accommodating new & longstanding visitors/students. #arts

 Bonus Features