To see the continued results of the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s audience-building work, see this 2018 update.
This case study examines how the Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) set about trying to cultivate the next generation of ballet-goers. Focusing on teens and young adults (under the age of 25), the Seattle-based ballet company sought to counter the perception held by many young people of the art form as stuffy or boring and replace it with a view that ballet could be exciting and relevant to their lives. First, the PNB conducted focus groups that explored teen and young adult perceptions of the company and research into general arts and cultural attendance patterns, in addition to motivations for and barriers to attending PNB performances. With the insights garnered from that work, the company designed an engagement strategy attacking the problem on a number of fronts, including revising promotional materials to appeal to younger audiences, revamping the website to make it easier to navigate and more visually exciting, posting online videos to familiarize viewers with the ballet, holding teen-only previews and offering heavily discounted tickets. Over a four-year period, PNB’s ticket sales to teens more than doubled.
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.
Points of Interest
Growth in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Facebook activity has been exponential: PNB’s fan base rose from 2,000 to more than 90,000 in less than five years.
The number of teen and young adult visitors to the Pacific Northwest Ballet who made two or more visits per season increased by more than 60 percent over five years, suggesting the organization is building a following.