This case study describes how the Steppenwolf Theatre Company has addressed the vexing problem of falling ticket subscription rates by developing deeper relationships with both subscribers and non-subscribers. To that end, it launched an experiment centered on promoting a dialogue among audience members and the artists about the process of creating theater. Audience members took part in nightly post-show discussions, attended special thematic events and were offered access to a rich selection of online content—including videos, podcasts, blogs, articles and slide shows—in which the artists talked about their work from a variety of perspectives.
The result: During a two-year period, many audience members who used to attend only one performance per season bought tickets to two, three or more shows. At the same time, the relationship-deepening initiatives had the added benefit of supporting high subscriber renewal rates.
This report 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.