|Ambassadors, Advice and Strategic Discounts Bring Newcomers to Minnesota Opera||3805||GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61||<p>
<em>This post is an update on
<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/wallace-studies-in-building-arts-audiences-someone-who-speaks-their-language.aspx">a 2014 case study</a> of Minnesota Opera’s Wallace-funded efforts to attract new opera fans and supporters. It is one of a series of blog posts exploring how organizations' audience-development efforts fare once Wallace funds run out. It does not include a thorough analysis to determine whether the financial benefits of the efforts described are commensurate to their costs.</em></p><p>Those unfamiliar with opera often assume the art form is for a different kind of person; they may think of someone older, wealthier, with different sensibilities and maybe even a bit pretentious. For the marketing staff at Minnesota Opera, the key to bringing newcomers to the performance hall requires, first and foremost, challenging that assumption. One tack has been to enable trusted opera devotees to act as ambassadors and encourage others to give the art form a try. Assisted by a four-year (2009 to 2012), $750,000 Excellence Award from The Wallace Foundation, the organization successfully enlisted an influencer with a wide following who attracted new ticket buyers. When a medical condition forced that influencer to retire, the staff empowered other groups in its audience base to cultivate new attendees.  </p><h3 class="wf-Element-H3">Tapping Local Partners</h3><p> The company, which produces five operas per year for an audience of nearly 45,000, first experimented with this idea in its 2008–2009 season, with a Bring-a-Friend program. Through that effort, its roughly 3,000 subscribers could receive a free companion ticket to a performance, which they were asked to give to a friend who had never attended Minnesota Opera. Staffers were discouraged when fewer than a fifth of subscribers took advantage of the offer but took heart when half the invited friends later bought tickets themselves. That high return rate got the marketing staff thinking about how to expand the model by tapping into a trusted advocate with greater reach. </p><p>As detailed in a
<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/wallace-studies-in-building-arts-audiences-someone-who-speaks-their-language.aspx">2014 case study</a>, the company launched a partnership with Ian Punnett, a longtime opera attendee and host of a morning drive-time pop-culture radio show. In show banter and in ads, he told his audience, which was made up mostly of professional women, what they would find enjoyable about specific Minnesota Opera productions. Avoiding esoteric references, he emphasized the drama, spectacle, pageantry and passion on stage. Over the four years of Wallace Foundation funding, more than 1,000 new households redeemed free tickets received in promotions on Punnett's show, in line with the company’s projections. What’s more, 18 percent of these newcomers returned on a paid ticket, well exceeding the 10-percent return rate documented in
<a href="https://www.oliverwyman.com/content/dam/oliver-wyman/global/en/files/community/Pro%20Bono%20Program/Solving%20a%20Classical%20Mystery/OW_EN_PUBL_2008_AUDIENCEGROWTHINITIATIVE%281%29.pdf">a 2008 study of first-time visitors at nine American symphonies</a>.</p><p>The radio partnership was just one component of the strategy. A local afternoon TV talk show also distributed free tickets to all members of its 50-person studio audience. But the show’s hosts lacked Punnett’s connection to opera and couldn’t speak as compellingly about it. Further, audience members received tickets whether they were interested or not. Few redeemed tickets and the partnership was scrapped in its second year. </p><p>The company also conducted research into audience motivations for buying tickets and, importantly, what prevented first timers who had come through the radio promotion from returning a second time. The research revealed that, although those newcomers may have enjoyed attending the performance, when they were considering a return visit, they didn’t have Punnett to steer them toward another opera. Marketing brochures were designed for traditional audiences, lacked Punnett’s accessible style and had references that newcomers did not fully understand. What’s more, the decision to return not only involved choosing an opera, but also selecting a seat in an unfamiliar hall. Consumer psychologists have long noted that
<a href="https://insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu/article/what-predicts-consumer-choice-overload">too many options can overwhelm unfamiliar consumers</a>, causing them to avoid choosing anything at all. Minnesota Opera’s research suggested that this tendency may be at play among its prospects. They needed help and sometimes a push to identify when and how to return.</p><p>These insights gave rise to multiple marketing strategies to overcome that purchase inertia. One tack was to simplify the decision-making process by creating offers for tickets in a specific seating section, eliminating the need to select where to sit. These promotions typically offered configurations such as “Three tickets for $75,” and produced about 100 new subscribers when they ran in local newspapers. Another approach was an impulse-buy promotion offered at two or three performances each season. First-time subscribers received a discount on a new subscription if they signed up before leaving the performance hall. Approximately 100 new subscribers did so each evening the offer was made available.</p><h3 class="wf-Element-H3">Turning to Existing Ambassadors</h3><p> Severe tinnitus forced Punnett to retire from radio in early 2013, bringing Minnesota Opera's partnership with him to an unexpected end. The company sought a similar partner who shares a love of opera, a large audience and a relatable personality—critical factors that drove the program's success—but was unable to find one. The staff therefore tried to deputize different groups within its audience base. “When a friend recommends going to the opera, it’s very different than being served a marketing message," says Marketing Director Katherine Castille.</p><p>The company still runs its Bring-A-Friend program but has had to pare it back as its popularity has grown. Minnesota Opera has approximately 3,000 subscribers, and an open offer to all of them meant that the company could potentially hand out more than 500 tickets per production. It therefore offers Bring-a-Friend tickets for just one production each year to the approximately 200 subscribers who automatically renew their subscriptions before the next season’s titles are revealed. The approach provides an incentive to auto-renew while also attracting a small number of newcomers to the performance hall. </p><p>Bring-a-Friend<em> Redemptions and Returning Households<br></em></p><p><em><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Ambassadors-Advice-and-Strategic-Discounts-Bring-Newcomers-to-Minnesota-Opera/bring-a-friend-chart.jpg" alt="bring-a-friend-chart.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /></em><br> </p><p>Beginning in the 2016–2017 season, Minnesota Opera also began offering complimentary 'loyalty tickets' to some subscribers, not just to show appreciation but also to help introduce their friends to the company. The group that receives the offer varies. That way, no one gets used to relying on free tickets and the marketing team can target larger or smaller groups depending on the number of seats available. For one show, free tickets might be offered to weekend subscribers; for another, they could go to new subscribers or those who have subscribed for more than ten years. Unlike Bring-A-Friend, these tickets do not need to be given to someone new to the company, but many are. Some preliminary results (below) show that the program is providing a very low-cost way to bring in new audiences; 183 (25 percent) of the 720 new households that came through the program purchased tickets themselves afterwards. </p><p>
<em>Loyalty Ticket Redemptions and Returning Households<br></em></p><p><em><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Ambassadors-Advice-and-Strategic-Discounts-Bring-Newcomers-to-Minnesota-Opera/loyalty-ticket-chart.jpg" alt="loyalty-ticket-chart.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /></em><br> </p><p>The staff is aware of the arguments against offering free tickets: They can deflate perceptions of the operas’ value and, if used too liberally, teach people to expect them. For that reason, it distributes loyalty tickets in a highly targeted way. For starters, the company offers at most one free ticket to each patron each year and, to capitalize on patrons’ social connections, asks the recipient to invite a friend. The company typically makes these tickets available only in circumstances where sales are likely to need a lift—e.g., less popular showtimes, hard-to-fill seats, less familiar titles and shows early in the season that don't have much time for advance sales. </p><h3 class="wf-Element-H3">Offers and Messages to Encourage Ticket Purchases</h3><p> Relying on insights from its research with first-time attendees, the company still offers impulse-buy subscriptions following certain performances. It provides a discount of between 30 and 50 percent to single-ticket buyers who opt for these offers. The company targets well-known titles and performances outside of the subscription series, because those evenings are likely to have the most non-subscribers in attendance. Over three nights at the end of a run of
<em>La Traviata</em> in May 2019<em>, </em>the company sold 160 new subscriptions, together worth approximately $25,000. The year prior, it ran the offer at two performances of
<em>Rigoletto, </em>bringing in approximately $14,000 through 90 new subscribers. </p><p>The company also tries to point newcomers in the direction of operas they might like, much as Punnett did on his radio show. The practice began when the staff heard in focus groups that people who had not returned to the opera missed Punnett’s guidance. Staffers initially responded by rewriting season brochures to signal which works were “perfect for an opera newbie” or “perfect for an opera buff.” But they nixed the strategy after one season; staffers became concerned that the phrasing might sound as if they were suggesting “opera smart” or “opera dumb.” </p><p>The need to help newcomers pick an opera was still there, however. “We have to find new ways to help people relate,” says Castille. “The seemingly natural reaction seems to be, ‘It’s not for me,’ and we need to make it more approachable.” </p><p>Now, communications targeting single-ticket buyers, who are more likely to be newer to opera, provide guidance on who should see what opera by including references to similar works and pop-culture. For a recent production of
<em>Marriage of Figaro, </em>for example, audiences were told that it would be perfect for people who like
<em>Downton Abbey, Amadeus </em>and
<em>Cosí Fan Tutte. </em></p><p>In all communications Minnesota Opera also targets misperceptions about opera more directly. The company always promotes the fact that tickets start at $25, as it has done for the past ten years, because people assume opera is expensive. It also shows simultaneous English translation during performances, and has consistently communicated that point in print, TV and radio advertising for more than a decade. Even so, misconceptions have proven to be resistant to change (that’s true for other art forms as well). The company recently completed focus-group research and, Castille says, “Those perceptions are still out there—that opera is super expensive, it’s stuffy, it’s exclusively for much older people, I have to know a different language. The work is never done."<strong></strong></p>||Bob Harlow||82||2020-01-21T05:00:00Z||A midwestern company taps its networks and carefully crafts promotions to introduce new audiences to opera.||1/22/2020 10:07:32 PM||The Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Ambassadors, Advice and Strategic Discounts Bring Newcomers to Minnesota Opera A midwestern company taps its networks and ||41||https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspx||html||False||aspx|
|The Contemporary Jewish Museum Is Now (Also) a Family Destination||10386||GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61||<p><em>This post is an update of a </em><em><a href="/knowledge-center/pages/converting-family-into-fans.aspx">2016 case study</a></em><em> of The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s Wallace-funded efforts to attract larger numbers of families with young children. It is one of a series of blog posts exploring how organizations' audience-development efforts fare once Wallace funds run out. It does not include a thorough analysis to determine whether the financial benefits of the efforts described are commensurate to their costs.</em></p><p>San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) presents a continuously changing program of exhibitions about Jewish art and culture to a diverse audience, approximately half of which does not identify as Jewish. In 2008, it moved from a 2,500-square-foot, single-gallery exhibition space to a 63,000-square-foot facility with room for multiple exhibitions shown simultaneously. Leaders of The CJM believed the expansion opened up a promising opportunity: to attract more parents visiting with children, who could fill the space with intergenerational conversations and vitality. To that end, the museum set out to engage this audience in large numbers. </p><p>That aspiration brought The CJM into largely unfamiliar territory. The museum had not previously targeted families, who made up about 10 percent of the museum’s 10,000 to 13,000 annual visitors in the two years preceding the move. What’s more, more than half of family visits occurred on just two free days each year during Christmas and Purim. As described in <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/converting-family-into-fans.aspx">a 2016 case study</a>, a four-year Wallace Excellence Award helped change this picture. Between 2008 and 2011, the museum developed programs and partnerships that bring in more than 12,000, sometimes as many as 20,000, family visitors each year. </p><p>Eight years after that grant ended, the museum continues to draw large numbers of families. While The CJM no longer sees the runaway success of the early years, visitor response has been enthusiastic enough to build a stable base of family patrons, even as kids age out of the target audience each year.</p><h3 class="wf-Element-H3">The CJM Builds a Family Audience </h3><p>
The original family initiative included several elements:<u></u></p><ul><li>Exhibitions of work by well-known Jewish authors and illustrators, such as Maurice Sendak (<em>Where the Wild Things Are</em>), and Margret and H.A. Rey (<em>Curious George</em>), designed to appeal both to adults and children;<br><br></li><li>Year-round programs every Sunday, including (1) “Drop-In Artmaking” for parents and children every Sunday and (2) special family programming on the second Sunday of each month during the school year, consisting of a “Preschool Gallery Hour” in the mornings for preschoolers and their families and tours later in the day for families with older children; <br><br></li><li>“ArtPacks,” kits with activities connected to exhibitions on display and available to check out anytime, to help families explore on their own schedules;<br><br></li><li>Free admission to all visitors under age 18;<br><br></li><li>Several family days with special activities;<br><br></li><li>Partnerships with local libraries, including educator-led art-making in public libraries and a “Library Day” where library-card holders were allowed free admission; and <br><br></li><li>Partnerships with a small but diverse group of public schools, which included both classroom instruction and parent/child art-making, with 300 to 400 children and families taking part each year. </li></ul><h3 class="wf-Element-H3">Marquee Exhibitions Bring in Large Audiences </h3><p>
With the opening of the new building, total attendance grew more than tenfold, with considerable variation each year (largely driven by blockbuster exhibitions featuring work by household names such Maurice Sendak and the Reys). Family attendance increased as well, and at a faster clip. As shown in the table below, families visiting with children made up about 10 percent of the visitors in the years leading to the move. In the first years of the initiative, they made up between 13 and 19 percent of general admission visits. Additional programs outside general admission brought in between 1,000 and 3,000 more family visitors each year. </p><p>The exhibitions of well-known children’s book authors were the biggest draw. In the first six years in the new space, families made up a larger proportion of visitors (18 percent) when those exhibits were on view compared to times when they were not (8 percent). Family visitors also made up 15 percent of all attendees on Sundays throughout the year, with especially large numbers visiting on second Sundays. <br>
<u> </u><u> </u></p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/CJM-attendance-wallace-funded-years.jpg" alt="CJM-attendance-wallace-funded-years.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><h3 class="wf-Element-H3">New Gateways into the Museum</h3><p>
Wallace funding ended at the close of 2011, but according to Fraidy Aber, who is Constance Wolf director of education and civic engagement, the museum remains committed to continuous innovation to build on its success. “Families have changing habits and needs,” she says. So The CJM’s staff continuously experiments with more efficient and effective ways to attract new families and create experiences that bring them back. </p><p>One opportunity came in 2013, when The CJM built on the popularity of an exhibition of the work of author-illustrator Ezra Jack Keats by launching what would become an annual “Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition.” Children from public schools across the city design and write their own books in a competition juried by a panel of illustrators, curators, librarians and writers. The competition, now in its seventh year, is a less costly alternative to the museum’s previous school-outreach program, in which CJM educators traveled to area schools to lead artmaking sessions.  Activities for the new program are now largely managed by the schools, which submit student-made books to the museum. More than 800 children from 19 public schools participate. The competition culminates with a showcase of the children's books, attended by more than 400 students and their families (visitor surveys show that 45 percent are first-timers). The museum has recently begun a separate program for Jewish schools, hoping to recreate the culminating showcase with the Jewish community. </p><p>The CJM has largely shifted away from presenting exhibitions of children’s book authors and illustrators to focus more on contemporary art, though it still schedules a show every fall with content designed to appeal to both children and adults (including, for example, a 2018 exhibition exploring the work of Rube Goldberg). </p><p>Even so, these exhibits do not bring in the large numbers of family visitors attracted by those earlier exhibitions of authors with household names, and the staff is using other programming to attract new family audiences. For example, in 2016 it broadened the audience for the second-Sunday programming beyond families with preschoolers. The museum invited older children and their accompanying adults to attend and added age-appropriate art-making, storytelling, and entertainment to the day’s programs. Visitor surveys in 2017 revealed that second Sundays had built an audience of repeat visitors; up to 95 percent of attendees on those days had visited previously. The strong repeat attendance signaled to the staff that it was satisfying those who came, and also had considerable potential to expand its audience. </p><p>With that potential in mind, The CJM introduced a bigger, more highly promoted event in 2018. The new “Sunday Family Artbash” offers five hours of art-making, story-telling, music, entertainment, tours and dance movement connected to the exhibitions. The museum boosted advertising and publicity for those days and offered free admission for up to two adults accompanied by a child. That larger scope has required a reduction in frequency—four times a year instead of eight—but early results suggest the strategy is delivering. Family attendance regularly reaches 400 visitors and beyond (compared to 100 to 200 for the original second-Sunday program), and surveys show that 40 percent are first-timers. </p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/CJM-photo.jpg" alt="CJM-photo.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /><br><span style="color:#666666;font-size:16px;text-align:center;">Multiple generations p</span><span style="color:#666666;font-size:16px;text-align:center;">articipate in Drop-in Artmaking at The CJM's Family Artbash; photo by Andria Lo</span><br></p><h3 class="wf-Element-H3">“Hands-On” Visits Create Positive Experiences<br></h3><p>
In 2014, The CJM opened the Zim Zoom Family Room, an interactive, activity-filled space housing artist installations, artmaking facilities, a screening booth and more, accessible any time. Focus groups in 2016 showed that attendees enjoy visits more when they include hands-on activities involving parents with their children, so the museum continually refreshes the Zim Zoom Room with new installations and activities. A major section of the space is devoted to an interactive artist exhibit, which changes each year. Past installations included interactive digital projections, an infinity room of mirrors that changed as children added objects to it and a piano that added paint to a canvas whenever anyone pressed a key. Visitor research shows the typical family visits the galleries for half an hour, then goes to Zim Zoom to play for an hour and finishes with lunch in The CJM’s café. Aber believes the Zim Zoom Room and regular family Sundays are cementing The CJM’s reputation as a family-friendly art museum. Visitor data show the institution attracts a consistent family audience year-round, not just when certain exhibitions are on view. </p><p>The CJM’s research revealing the importance of hands-on activities has also reaffirmed the museum’s commitment to offering Drop-In Artmaking for families every Sunday in the education center. When that research also suggested that families appreciate having educators in the gallery near the art itself, The CJM introduced a mobile “Art PushCart” with activities suitable for galleries (i.e., without markers, glue or other wet materials used in Drop-In Artmaking). That immediacy allows educators to help families connect more directly with works on display. Artists featured in exhibitions have even donated in-progress pieces to the Art PushCart that children can explore in the galleries. Drop-In Artmaking still happens on the first and second Sundays of each month; the Art PushCart is offered in galleries on Sundays later in the month. </p><p>Space and material constraints limit Art PushCart activities, and families spend less time with that program than they do with Drop-in Artmaking. But staff observations suggest that the Art PushCart serves more people, because families don’t need to make a special trip to the education center. </p><p>The museum has settled into an annual family attendance of between 10,000 and 12,000 since the Wallace-funded learning period ended. Approaching its eleventh year targeting families, the staff is starting to see signs of a generational cycle of participation. “We’re now part of the lifetime of people’s connections,” says Aber. “We’re beginning to have museumgoers who came as young adults through our teen programs now attending with their own kids, continuing on that life journey.”<br></p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/CJM-attendance-post-wallace-funded-years.jpg" alt="CJM-attendance-post-wallace-funded-years.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /><br><br></p>||Bob Harlow||82||2020-01-07T05:00:00Z||New strategies and a new space have helped the museum welcome young visitors and sow the seeds for future growth||1/7/2020 2:58:48 PM||The Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / The Contemporary Jewish Museum Is Now (Also) a Family Destination New strategies and a new space have helped the museum ||163||https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspx||html||False||aspx|
|What Theater Can Do Best||3559||GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61||<p>Two years ago, we embarked on our Building Audiences for Sustainability (BAS) Stories Series, which has chronicled early accounts from the BAS initiative.
<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/denver-center-for-the-performing-arts-is-cracking-the-millennial-code.aspx">One of the organizations featured</a> was Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA), focusing on Off-Center—an experimental branch of DCPA’s Theatre Company. Off-Center is helmed and curated by Charlie Miller, who also serves as the Associate Artistic Director of Denver Center Theatre Company. </p><p>
To see how the work has been progressing, Corinna Schulenburg, Director of Communications at Theatre Communications Group, sat down with Miller to discuss Off-Center’s work to date, what they’ve learned and recommendations for other organizations seeking to expand their work in audience building.
<br> This following is an excerpted and edited version of the exchange.</p><p>
<strong>Schulenburg: Can you provide a brief overview of the Denver Center and your work with the Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative?</strong>
<br> Miller: The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is a nonprofit theater based in Denver, and it's a unique organization because it houses both the Broadway presenting house and the regional theater that we call the Theatre Company. Inside the Theatre Company, there's a line of programming that I lead called Off-Center, which was created in 2010 to be a theatrical testing center, a place where we could experiment with new ideas and new forms and new ways of engaging a new and younger audience.
<br> This really came out of the challenge we were facing a decade ago—subscriptions were declining and audiences were aging. There was more competition for entertainment dollars, so we had to find a new way to engage an audience who wasn’t necessarily predisposed to theater the way that their parents and grandparents were. We were determined to create a new kind of programming geared toward that audience and that’s where Off-Center came from. </p><p>Around the same time, I became really fascinated with immersive theater and the way that it put the audience at the center of the experience. I also felt like it was a great thing for Denver because people who come to Colorado enjoy experiences. They like being active, and immersive theater allows an audience to be active inside of a story. So we set out to build the DCPA’s capacity to produce large scale immersive work through Off-Center.</p><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"><br><img alt="miller-schulenburg.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/What-Theater-Can-Do-Best/miller-schulenburg.jpg" style="margin:5px;" />
Corinna Schulenburg, director of communications, Theatre Communications Group and Charlie Miller, associate artistic director, Denver Center Theatre Company. </p><p><strong>Schulenburg: Can you say a little bit more about the aesthetic and the audience experience of immersive theater?</strong>
<br> Miller: For me what immersive means—and I also often use the word “experiential” interchangeably—is that it puts the audience at the center. They have some kind of role in the experience or in the story. It doesn't mean that the audience is playing a part like the actor, but instead that there is no fourth wall. It also needs to engage your senses and often involves not being seated the whole time, sometimes moving through multiple spaces, sometimes moving through the real world, but within a story that serves as a lens through which you’re viewing the world.<br>
<strong>Schulenburg: I know that an initial impulse was around engaging millennial audiences, particularly because you are a millennial yourself. Do you feel that millennial audience members have a particular relationship to this kind of work?</strong>
<br> Miller: On average we’ve seen 35 percent of the audience is made up of millennials for these experiential productions, which is a departure from the Theatre Company, which is closer to 16 percent. We've also noticed that there is a halo effect, where you create programming that you think will speak to one generation and it becomes compelling to other generations. The common denominator is not your age, it’s how adventurous you are and what you’re looking for in your cultural experience.
<br> What’s exciting to us is that the work we’re doing is engaging a significantly newer and younger audience but it’s also engaging a diverse audience and people of all ages who are interested in engaging with their art in a different way.
<br> Also through the work we’ve been doing, I've continued to feel a tension in artistic programming between listening to what the audience wants and just doing interesting work that people will be excited about that they didn't know they want. There’s the famous Henry Ford quote that I love, something like, “If I listened to what people wanted I would have just given them a faster horse.”
<strong>Schulenburg: I remember in some of your past work you’ve uncovered that there’s a gap in what they think they want and what you actually found they wanted through market research.</strong>
<br> Miller:  As we were starting our Wallace-funded work we did a lot of market research, both qualitative and quantitative, to look at millennials in Denver and to understand if they would be interested in immersive theater. And when we asked them what type of experience, what attributes they wanted in an experience, they wanted “entertaining,” “lighthearted and fun,” “casual and relaxed.” They did not want “exclusive,” “serious” or “high end.” </p><p>
<em>Sweet & Lucky</em>, which was the first big project we produced, was serious and emotional and contemplative and people loved it, but it was the opposite of what they said they wanted. And it turns out that some of the subsequent work we've done that has been categorized as “entertaining, lighthearted and fun” has not been as popular among audiences. So even though they said they thought they knew what they wanted, it turns out they didn't.
<strong>Schulenburg: Since Wallace released the Building Audiences for Sustainability Story on your work, what has changed since then? What have you been up to?</strong>
<br> Miller: The production that is running right now is called
<a href="https://www.denvercenter.org/tickets-events/between-us/">Between Us</a></em>, and it is a trio of one-on-one experiences between one actor and one audience member. This was inspired, in part, by an observation from
<em>Sweet & Lucky</em>: during that production, every audience member received a brief one-on-one with an actor, and we saw how impactful that was for audience members. </p><p>Through all our projects this spring I've been fascinated with how much agency we can give the audience. How do we create a situation where the audience can show up as themselves, not have to play a part, but can have a meaningful and authentic impact on the direction and possibly even the outcome of the story? And how do we do that in a way that still guarantees that there's satisfying narrative arc? We're really experimenting with that in all of these pieces. We've had to rethink how we do things and learn along the way.
<strong>Schulenburg: Do you have any advice for smaller organizations looking to begin the work of audience building?</strong>
<br> Miller:  I think it's really important to get feedback from your audience. You don’t have to have a big budget to collect information and to use that to inform some of your decisions. It’s a skill set and a muscle that you can develop, and there are free tools out there to help. I believe that audience members have more buy-in with an organization if they feel like they’re able to share their opinion, so I’m a big proponent of continuous learning—as Wallace calls it—and using data to support strategy.
<br> Another thing we've learned is that experimental and nonlinear work has been least successful, as determined by audience response. We’ve heard that loud and clear on three different projects now. I always have to remind myself that at the core you have to provide a good story and that’s what brings people in. Theater is an art of storytelling.</p><p>Finally, I’m a huge proponent of prototyping and taking small, incremental steps to improve based on what you learn. The analogy I like to give is climbing up two feet and trying out your parachute and then climbing up another two feet, rather than just jumping off a cliff and hoping that the parachute opens. The more you can iterate, prototype and experiment, that can be really valuable. It’s a way to take calculated risks.</p><p>
<strong>Schulenburg: We’ve been talking a lot about the role human contact plays in the work you do at Off-Center, so I wanted to end by mentioning the New York Times article, "</strong><strong><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/23/sunday-review/human-contact-luxury-screens.html">Human Contact Is Now A Luxury Good</a></strong><strong>" – have you seen it?</strong></p><p>Miller: Oh yes, I did see this piece.
<strong>Schulenburg: The research suggests that it used to be that people who had resources and money had access to screens. Now, it's reversed—folks who are economically distressed have screens around them all the time and human contact has become a luxury good for the wealthy. What’s so interesting to me about the work that you are doing, it feels like it's connected to that, that you are hitting on the significance of direct human contact. It seems to me like you're tapping into a real wellspring of hunger.</strong>
<br> Miller: I think you're right there. This relates to why I think millennials are drawn to immersive work. Our lives are mediated through screens, and theater like this forces you to put your screen down and to just be real, present and embodied.
<br> Spending an hour with a stranger and just getting to know them is a unique experience; you put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see the world from a different point of view. My hope is that this can wake us up from the monotony of our everyday routine and give us a new perspective on our own lives and on the world. That’s what we’re really trying to do at the end of the day. That’s what theater can do best. </p>||Wallace editorial team||79||2019-06-25T04:00:00Z||Checking in with Denver Center’s Theater Company on what they’ve learned about their audiences from championing immersive theater||6/27/2019 3:57:01 PM||The Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / What Theater Can Do Best Checking in with Denver Center’s Theater Company on what they’ve learned about their audiences ||1179||https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspx||html||False||aspx|
|New Name, New Look to Draw a New Generation of Fans||3997||GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61||<p>In 2015, World Music/CRASHarts set out to build name recognition and draw new, younger audiences to its music and dance performances. It commissioned extensive audience research and developed a multipronged engagement strategy centered on an annual global-music festival called CRASHfest. <br></p><p>That strategy
<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/world-music-crasharts-tests-new-format-new-name-to-draw-new-audiences.aspx">is showing promising results</a>. But the related market research suggested that the organization's name was too hard to remember and its brand could be clearer, more consistent and more inspirational. So the organization set out on a rebranding process, the results of which it revealed last month.</p><p>
<a href="https://www.globalartslive.org/content/worldmusiccrasharts-is-now-globalartslive">World Music/CRASHarts is now Global Arts Live</a>. With the new name come a new logo, a new color palette, detailed design guidelines and new templates for posters, brochures, stage backdrops and other marketing materials. </p><p>The organization, along with branding and design firm Minelli, Inc., chose a name that describes its work more clearly and succinctly than the somewhat wordy "World Music/CRASHarts."</p>
<img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="global-arts-before-after.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/New-Name-New-Look-to-Draw-a-New-Generation-of-Fans/global-arts-before-after.jpg" style="margin:5px;" />
<p>To give the descriptive name some emotional resonance, Minelli proposed a dynamic tagline, "Performance that shapes our world." It also offered alternatives so Global Arts Live could adapt the tagline to fit the wide variety of performances it offers. The organization's announcement of the change demonstrates the use of the tagline better than we can explain it here:</p>
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/91i3so4sVEw" frameborder="0"></iframe>
<br><p>"We present many different artists from all over the world—performing dance, world music, jazz—in different venues across the city," said associate director Susan Weiler in an email. "The tagline, messaging and other brand assets give us a road map to adjust the brand to each artist, discipline and venue."</p><p>Accompanying the name and tagline are visual and verbal cues to communicate the creativity, diversity and vibrancy of the performances the organization presents. These cues are designed to create a clear, more consistent identity that audiences and supporters can recognize wherever they encounter it.</p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/New-Name-New-Look-to-Draw-a-New-Generation-of-Fans/global-arts-before-after3.jpg" alt="global-arts-before-after3.jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin:5px;" /><br><br></p>
<p>"The new identity is full of energy and movement," Weiler said. "We have a single clarified name, one contemporary logo, dynamic tag line, updated messaging and complete style guide—all things we didn’t have before."</p><p>The organization is now working with digital consultants to reclaim the search-engine rankings the name-change compromised and to analyze web users' behavior in preparation for a full site redesign. This fall, it will launch an advertising and awareness campaign to promote the new brand to new audiences. </p><p>It's an extensive undertaking that has so far cost Global Arts Live about $300,000. But the organization is confident it will help boost its public profile and solidify its reputation for high-quality performances. "Creating a new brand requires deep resources in staff time, staff capacity and financial investment," Weiler said. "But operating with an ineffective brand can ultimately cost an organization more."</p>||Wallace editorial team||79||2019-06-20T04:00:00Z||Your source for research and ideas to expand high quality learning and enrichment opportunities. Supporting: School Leadership, After School, Summer and Extended Learning Time, Arts Education and Building Audiences for the Arts.||6/21/2019 5:35:22 PM||The Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / New Name, New Look to Draw a New Generation of Fans World Music/CRASHarts changes name to Global Arts Live, gets a facelift ||390||https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspx||html||False||aspx|
|For Steppenwolf Theatre the Connection’s the Thing||3710||GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61||<p>A little more than 10 years ago, Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company shifted its relationship with its patrons by offering them face-to-face conversation with the company’s performers and artistic staff. The new approach came about after Steppenwolf used an Excellence Award from The Wallace Foundation to develop a series of online and in-person programs that supported a vision of the company as “a public square”—a forum where audience members could participate in discussions with artists and one another about the meaning of a work they experienced. </p><p>The goal for Steppenwolf, which produces plays for more than 200,000 audience members every year, was to promote ongoing dialogue that would strengthen audience members’ connection to the company—and even encourage them to attend performances more often. This three-year effort (from 2007 to 2009) helped move the company towards its objective as described in
<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/wallace-studies-in-building-arts-audiences-building-deeper-relationships.aspx">a 2011 case study</a>. </p><p>We recently revisited Steppenwolf to see where the programs stand today and found the company not only continuing to engage audiences through lively discussions but also expanding opportunities for more of them. </p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">2007–2009: The Public Square Launches, and Expands</h2><p> Steppenwolf began creating its public square through three engagement tactics: </p><ul><li>Post-show discussions after every performance during which members of the artistic staff posed questions to the audience (not the other way around) and everyone shared reactions as a group. Over the first three years, 52,000 audience members, or approximately 14 percent of the audience, stayed to take part in these conversations.<br><br></li><li>A free-event series called “Explore” that introduced visitors to settings, playwright histories and themes related to Steppenwolf plays. Held in a social environment featuring immersive live entertainment, food and beverages, these events were separate from play performances—in Steppenwolf’s smaller theaters and rehearsal spaces—and each hosted between 50 and 230 attendees.<br><br></li><li>An extensive collection of printed and online content in which ensemble members and artistic staff shared conversations they were having with one another about work as it was being produced. Video and transcripts of those conversations included dialogue about Steppenwolf artists’ own questions regarding meaning and artistic intent—questions that sometimes remained unresolved. Over the three-year grant period, the videos and podcasts were accessed more than 750,000 and 175,000 times, respectively.</li></ul><p> While the public square forums attracted large numbers of audience members, they may have also encouraged repeat attendance during the grant period. In fact, the number of nonsubscribers who purchased tickets to more than one performance per season grew by more than 61 percent from September 1, 2007, to August 31, 2009. Subscription rates, which were already above industry trends, rose as well. </p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">Continuing the Public Square </h2><p> Since that time, the theater has found many programs worth extending. Post-show discussions still follow every performance, and between 10 and 25 percent of audience members (14 percent on average) stay to take part. A 2016 survey revealed that more than 80 percent of participants say the conversations help them better appreciate the work they have seen, and what they enjoy most is the opportunity to reflect on the play immediately after seeing it. </p><p>The company also still produces a wide range of videos, including ensemble and staff reflections on artistic intent and meaning. Increasingly in recent years, the staff has also tapped audience members’ post-performance reactions to a work. One tack is to approach attendees in the lobby after the show and ask them to share their observations on video. Those clips are then edited and posted on the company website or included in production-related e-mails. The reactions are not of the “I love it, go see it” variety used strictly for promotion; instead, they are more personal reflections about specific elements that an audience member finds moving.</p><p>In a similar vein, Steppenwolf has also begun asking attendees to share personal experiences at the theater through social media, which was in its infancy when the original case study was published in 2011. For example, some audience members at a recent performance of
<em>A Doll’s House, Part 2 </em>had seats at the back of the stage and they were prompted to post selfies once they took their places. That strategy of encouraging user-generated content may be one reason Steppenwolf has one of the most popular Instagram accounts among not-for-profit theater companies, with nearly 16,000 followers.  <br><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/For-Steppenwolf-Theatre-the-Connection’s-the-Thing/IG3.png" alt="IG3.png" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p>
<p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption">To promote interaction among its audiences, Steppenwolf Theatre encourages visitors to post images on social media, such as this post on Instagram. </p>
<p>As for the Explore events, former Marketing Director John Zinn notes that a new performance series and a recently added in-house café (both described below) provide opportunities to continue dialogue in a more flexible and ongoing way. As a result, the company has discontinued the Explore programming. </p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">Creating More Conversations and Opportunities to Have Them </h2><p> Even as its leadership has changed, Steppenwolf's commitment to discourse remains a defining feature of how it engages audiences. In 2015, ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro took over as artistic director from David Schmitz, who moved into the role of executive director. Under both, the company expanded audience opportunities to participate in conversations at Steppenwolf that suit the lifestyles and circumstances of different groups.</p><p> The recognition that not everyone wants to have a conversation inside the theater itself was one motivating factor behind the 2016 opening of the Front Bar. A hybrid bar and coffee shop connected to the Steppenwolf lobby, it was designed as a gathering place post-performance or throughout the day, with the hope it would be a space where patrons could mingle with one another and with the artists. Marketing Director Kara Henry notes that within three years the cafe has exceeded all expectations, becoming a place where ensemble members and visiting artists mingle with patrons after a performance and during rehearsals. At other times it serves as an impromptu workspace for theater artists from communities and companies across the city, many of them performing in or drawn to programming in Steppenwolf’s more intimate<u> </u>black-box theater.</p><p>Encouraged by the success of the Front Bar, the company plans to create other kinds of gathering spaces as it expands its campus into a new building now under construction. In that same spirit of reducing distance between audience and artists, Steppenwolf is designing the theater within the new space to be more intimate by bringing patrons closer to the stage.</p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">Telling More Stories </h2><p> The artistic staff at Steppenwolf believes its mission, first and foremost, is to tell narratives that are relevant to Chicago. It is now expanding what that duty means as well. Increasingly, the company is looking beyond audiences who are already coming to the theater and is focusing on new ones, what Henry calls “a commitment to creating more stories for more of Chicago.” She adds, “Our invitation to theater patrons must be wide, with programming that reflects Chicago’s diversity. As we see the composition of Chicago change, we have an obligation to have our work reflect that.” </p><p>With that in mind, the company has featured a more diverse array of voices on the main stage. In 2016, it launched LookOut, amulti-genre performance series in its black-box theater, which provides an intimate cabaret-like setting. LookOu<em>t</em> programming draws from a wide range of Chicago-based artists, and its smaller scale allows for a greater diversity of shows to be presented within any one season. On select occasions the company has featured work that complements main-stage productions in order to build on conversations happening there. To date, LookOu<em>t</em> has featured 1,190 visiting artists, who have presented 146 shows in 422 performances to an audience of 29,005. That audience skews younger than the traditional Steppenwolf visitor: 46 percent are Millennials, according to the theater's ticketing database, and another 20 percent are Gen X. </p><p>Ultimately the company hopes that giving audience members multiple means to connect with its work and artists will create stronger, more personal bonds and include broader segments of Chicagoans. Henry sees the engagement strategy as supporting Artistic Director Shapiro’s intent to “make connections that transcend ideas onstage, with experiences that seek to enhance the lives of every person who walks through our doors.”</p><br>||Bob Harlow||82||2019-06-11T04:00:00Z||In the past decade, the Chicago theater company has grown its audiences by cultivating a “public square” and connecting with patrons.||6/11/2019 2:00:44 PM||The Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / For Steppenwolf Theatre the Connection’s the Thing In the past decade, the Chicago theater company has grown its audiences ||670||https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspx||html||False||aspx|
|A Range of Opportunities Brings New Audiences to Decades-Old Ceramics Studio||3628||GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61||<p>The Clay Studio in Philadelphia welcomes more than 30,000 people every year to its ceramics classes, workshops, gallery and retail space, including thousands who are first-timers to the studio and to clay itself. The organization’s popularity with newcomers seemed impossible 12 years ago when The Clay Studio (TCS) was on the cusp of its 30th anniversary. Despite the studio’s international reputation for excellence in ceramics, visitor growth appeared to be stagnating. Its core audience of college-educated professionals and retirees was getting older, and few newcomers were signing up for classes or making purchases in the shop. The solution, senior staff determined, was to find opportunities among Philadelphia’s large population of young professionals.<br></p><p> It was no easy feat. Staffers were used to serving an older audience of ceramics devotees and were unsure how they could attract the next generation of participants, who, they suspected, had little or no experience with clay. An Excellence Award from The Wallace Foundation gave them leeway to experiment with new programs and marketing strategies over four years (from 2008 to 2011). After a year of experiments that had mixed success (as described in a <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/wallace-studies-in-building-arts-audiences-opening-new-doors.aspx">2015 case study</a>), the organization hit on a winning formula: programs that provide new angles for discovering TCS, combined with more inviting marketing. Since that time, innovations using that formula have continued to deliver a steady stream of new audiences. </p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">Finding New Ways for Young Audiences to Get to Know TCS<br></h2><p>TCS’s first attempt to bring in young people was a series of gallery-focused social events. When those efforts failed to bring in as many as TCS hoped, the staff tried instead to tap into young people’s desire for more participatory experiences and surmised that classrooms and workshops might make an appealing entry point. TCS’s primary class offering in those years was a relative bargain—10 weeks of lessons for $300—but audience research suggested that the time requirement and expense were too much for people unfamiliar with either TCS or ceramic art.</p><p>In response, TCS introduced shorter workshops such as <em>Date Night, </em>a three-hour after-work event—with a $35 price tag—that gave newcomers a chance to work with clay in a social setting with food and beverages. <em>Date Night</em> ticked all the boxes for Philadelphia’s young professionals who were looking for unique experiences, and it became a hit, selling out weeks in advance. The staff followed up with a range of formats to suit a variety of schedules and propensities to commit, including weekend workshops, five-week classes and more. </p><p>To draw this new audience to its programs, TCS’s marketing materials got a full makeover, guided by findings from research. The staff heard from young professionals in focus groups that TCS brochures and promotional materials were directed too much to an insider audience, with jargon that went over their heads and images of ceramics they weren’t equipped to appreciate. The staff then shifted to more accessible language and images of people working with clay, pictures that the focus-group participants found more enticing. </p><p>The direct appeal to newcomers, combined with the new programs, delivered results. During the five years from 2007 to 2012, enrollments tripled and revenue from classes and workshops doubled (see chart below). That growth came not only from the new programs but also from rising enrollment in the 10-week classes.</p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">New Programs Build on Momentum</h2><p>The Wallace funding has ended, but many of the programs created during its tenure live on, as does TCS’s experimentation with new formats. <em>Date Night</em> is still held on most Friday evenings and continues to sell out in advance. To meet demand, the staff introduced <em>Let’s Make! </em>in 2013—Saturday-afternoon workshops similar in length to <em>Date Night</em> but without food and beverages, a nod to the fact that not everyone wants an overtly social experience. These workshops regularly sell out as well, serving 250 to 300 enrollees every year. The new programs have fueled revenue growth, which has continued to rise at a healthy clip.<br></p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/A-Range-of-Opportunities-Brings-New-Audiences-to-Decades-Old-Ceramics-Studio/school-revenue-enrollment-chart.jpg" alt="school-revenue-enrollment-chart.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption">Note: Enrollment data before 2006 not available.<br></p><p>Jennifer Martin, executive director of TCS since 2018, has served in a variety of roles since joining the organization in 2007, including vice president from 2012 to 2018. She believes the key to bringing in new kinds of visitors is providing different avenues to get to know the organization. Take the <em>Hand Crafted</em> event series, for example, which was developed in 2015 after staff members noted the rising interest in local craft movements and recognized that TCS lacked options for people who appreciate handmade products but don’t want to create them. Over three hours and for a fee similar to <em>Date Night </em>($35 to $40), <em>Hand Crafted</em> participants hear local food and beverage artisans and ceramic artists discuss how their products are made and interrelate. Following an exploratory three-year period supported by the Barra Foundation, the program now continues every quarter and hosts an average of 20 participants. Chief Operating Officer Josie Bockelman notes that the goal of the program is to break even financially while promoting TCS, its artists and the pleasure of having handmade objects. Martin sees <em>Hand Crafted </em>as providing “a way to educate our audience about clay without making them feel like they’re in a class; they’re having an experience with us in a different way.” </p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">Serving Multiple Audiences</h2><p>One tricky balance is welcoming newcomers while maintaining the commitment to fine ceramic arts. Chris Taylor, who served as TCS president from 2011 through 2018, does not believe those goals are incompatible. Instead, he says TCS has become more inclusive, noting that the organization “serves the community, and that includes artist communities and it includes kids, equally.” Some long-term supporters expressed concerns about the commitment to fine arts as they began to see in the social workshops a large number of new audiences of “weekend warriors.” But Taylor notes that unease has dissipated as TCS has continued to support artists and exhibitions through such programs as an ongoing roster of 12 artists in long-term residencies and by providing studio space and resources for 14 early-career artists and 35 local artists every year. That’s in addition to hosting approximately 20 exhibitions annually, ranging from retrospectives of established international artists, to group shows highlighting relevant concepts in the field, to work from emerging artists.</p><p>It’s only natural that some newer visitors will look for a different kind of experience from the one the established audience enjoys. Taylor notes that contrast led to considerable discussion about the visitor experience and whether shorter workshops like <em>Date Night</em> were education, entertainment, a gateway or something else. For his part, Taylor takes a pragmatic stance, saying, “Some may go on to take classes, but if they don’t, that’s OK. They had a nice night, and we don’t have to judge them on their continued involvement or not.” </p><p>As it turns out, some new students do move on from shorter workshops to TCS’s longer five- and ten-week classes. The number is small (around 2 percent), but because those programs bring in hundreds of people, the impact is significant. Between 2014 and 2018, 95 students who first came in through <em>Date Night </em>reengaged with TCS. Specifically, 20 took a one-day weekend workshop, 25 enrolled in a five-week class and 50 took a ten-week class. It’s no surprise, then, that the longer formats have grown alongside the new programs, with five- and ten-week classes selling out in the prior three years. </p><p>Similarly, <em>Hand Crafted</em> events are creating a new audience of ceramics buyers whose engagement extends beyond the event. That wasn’t the intent, but it appears to be a natural outgrowth of the program’s objective of fostering an appreciation for handmade objects. Bockelman notes that many participants go on to make purchases in the retail shop, where sales receipts are several hundred dollars higher on days when <em>Hand Crafted </em>events are held. </p><p>Somewhat counterintuitively, the organization’s departments, with all their growth, have become more—not less—integrated. That’s in part because conversations regarding the visitor experience and lifecycle have led the staff to be more intentional in thinking about how people move through the organization. One significant shift is that TCS has stepped up communications between staff in development and in the earned-income programs, whose plans are now more in concert with one another. Martin notes, “Things were somewhat siloed earlier on. The school did its thing, the development department did its thing, everyone did their own thing. I feel like we’ve made a conscious effort as a staff and team to look at the organization holistically and think about how our programs can interact with each other, how we can funnel people through the organization, and the user experience from the time they walk in, to the time they leave.”</p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2">Growing into a New Space<br></h2><p>The organization’s programs are now filled to capacity, leaving the staff to find makeshift solutions to accommodate demand. To better serve its multiple audiences, TCS will relocate in 2020 from its 21,000-square-foot space to a newly-designed 31,000-square-foot facility farther north in South Kensington, a former industrial area that in recent years has become home to increasing numbers of local artisans and artist studios. The new location is providing an opportunity to design the building to fit what TCS has become, with more flexibility to host classes as the staff envisions them, instead of having the space define their capabilities. It will contain more and, in some cases, larger classrooms that can accommodate different instruction models, as well as additional space for artists and a classroom dedicated to youth and children. The retail shop and gallery will remain roughly the same size. </p><p>Beyond better accommodating specific programs, TCS also is designing the new facility to host a more integrated institution. In its current home, programs are on separate floors that, for security reasons, have separate access privileges. In its new location, TCS has designed and created spaces that encourage opportunities for interaction. Says Martin, “I envision all of these people across programs, from different walks of life, different ages, interacting, being social and experiencing the material and sharing that joy with each other.”<br></p>||Bob Harlow||82||2019-05-30T04:00:00Z||Your source for research and ideas to expand high quality learning and enrichment opportunities. Supporting: School Leadership, After School, Summer and Extended Learning Time, Arts Education and Building Audiences for the Arts.||5/30/2019 3:11:02 PM||The Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / A Range of Opportunities Brings New Audiences to Decades-Old Ceramics Studio Philadelphia’s Clay Studio tapped into the ||433||https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspx||html||False||aspx|
|Many Questions, Some Leads to Build Arts Audiences||3081||GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61||<p>At Wallace, all of our initiatives are designed with two goals in mind: to benefit the organizations we fund and to benefit those we don't fund by providing credible, relevant knowledge derived from the initiative. For that reason all of our initiatives have a learning agenda. </p><p>In <a href="/knowledge-center/building-audiences-for-the-arts/pages/default.aspx">our current arts initiative</a>, for instance, we set out to understand how audience-building efforts, carried out by nonprofit performing arts organizations in a continuous learning process, could attract new audiences while retaining current ones, and, at the same time, contribute to financial health. Now, the first of three expected reports from the initiative is out: <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/audience-building-and-financial-health-nonprofit-performing-arts.aspx">a literature review</a> of what’s known about the relationship between audience building and financial health. </p><p><a href="https://lbj.utexas.edu/directory/faculty/francie-ostrower">Francie Ostrower</a>, a professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs and College of Fine Arts and a senior fellow in the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the University of Texas, Austin, is co-author of the literature review and is leading the research effort on the initiative. In addition to the current review, Ostrower expects to publish two more reports: one on how the 25 organizations participating in the initiative implemented their efforts and another detailing the outcomes of their work. </p><p>We asked Ostrower to reflect on some of the key findings of the literature review.</p><p><strong>What is your opinion on the state of research surrounding the topic of audience building?</strong><br>
The literature offers numerous intriguing leads, ideas, and case studies—but many remain to be examined more systematically to really understand the consequences of audience-building efforts of different types. Other promising lines for future development would be to build a more cohesive body of research whose individual works reference and build on one another, and to link audience-building studies to the broader literature on organizational change, learning and culture.  </p><p><strong>At a few points in the literature review, you highlight that “audience-building and financial health literatures are distinct (with virtually no exploration of the relationship between the two).”</strong> <strong>Why do you think they’ve been separated historically? And what value is there in combining the two fields?  </strong> <br>
There would be great value to having additional studies that combine these fields. That is not to say that audience-building efforts should be judged or motivated by financial returns. They may yield financial returns, or their returns may be social or mission-driven.  However, organizations need to understand the financial costs and returns so that if needed, funding is secured to support the efforts in a sustainable way.   </p><p><strong>You highlight that empirical support for audience-building efforts is often slim. To what do you attribute this lack of empirical evidence? </strong> <br>
Assessing the outcomes of audience-building efforts is far more complicated than it may appear, and faces barriers of time, cost and access to reliable data. Arts organizations themselves may have only limited data on their audiences. The research challenges become even more substantial when we go beyond overall attendance counts to look at audience composition, follow efforts over time to understand their sustainability and try and establish how generalizable an approach tried by some organizations may be to others.    </p><p><strong>It seems there are two gaps in the literature: little study of the link between audience-building and financial health and a lack of empirical evidence of the results of audience-building tactics. How does the design of the evaluation for the Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative address these gaps?</strong> <br>
Working within the challenges of this very complex data undertaking, we will be trying to establish whether and how organizations attracted new audiences and retained current audiences as they undertook their audience building activities. Combining qualitative and quantitative data, we will also seek to understand the experiences and internal organizational consequences of engaging in audience building efforts. </p><p><strong>Based on this literature review, what are the takeaways you hope nonprofit arts managers will find? Do you have different takeaways for board members? How about for artistic staff? </strong> <br>
There are several takeaways:  Audience-building efforts should not be viewed as isolated or mechanical undertakings, and there is every indication that successful and significant audience-building efforts require widespread and sustained organizational commitment.  Therefore, it is very important to think about why the organization is undertaking the activity, the level of commitment it is willing to make and how far the organization is willing to go in order to achieve audience-building objectives, especially where achieving those objectives requires the organization to re-think the status quo.</p>
<br><br>||Wallace editorial team||79||2019-05-13T04:00:00Z||Author of new review says literature surveyed offers intriguing ideas and case studies, but empirical evidence of success of audience-building efforts is slim.||5/16/2019 2:19:29 PM||The Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Many Questions, Some Leads to Build Arts Audiences Author of new review says literature surveyed offers intriguing ideas ||387||https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspx||html||False||aspx|
|Getting Started on Building Audiences for the Arts||4143||GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61||<p>“Arts organizations are looking to connect with more audiences in more ways than they ever have before….So how do we do that?” With those words, Robert Sandla, editor in chief of the League of American Orchestras’ Symphony magazine, opened a recent webinar on resources to help arts organizations that want to tackle audience building. </p><p>Hosted by the League with panelists from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, Chamber Music America and Dance U.S.A., the webinar described and explained how to use a range of articles, videos, reports and other materials that cover audience building from a number of angles. The resources, all developed by Wallace as part of its work over the years in the arts and offered free of charge, include articles from Wallace’s most recent undertaking, the Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative. These stories, provided in written and video format, examine the particular audience-building questions and efforts to answer them from initiative participants including <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/ballet-austin-building-audiences-for-sustainability.aspx">Ballet Austin</a>, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/can-the-citys-boom-mean-new-audiences-for-seattle-symphony.aspx">Seattle Symphony</a> and <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/world-music-crasharts-tests-new-format-new-name-to-draw-new-audiences.aspx?utm_source=The+Wallace+Foundation&utm_campaign=4a7246312d-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_03_08_08_48&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_59ab24ca7b-4a7246312d-">World Music/CRASHarts</a>. The webinar presenters also noted key points from earlier reports, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/the-road-to-results-effective-practices-for-building-arts-audiences.aspx"><em>The</em> <em>Road to Results</em></a> and <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/taking-out-the-guesswork.aspx"><em>Taking Out the Guesswork</em></a>, which highlight strategies for reaching new audiences and deepening relationships with current ones. </p><p>There’s one particularly welcome lesson for arts organizations of any size or discipline from this body of work: Taking action based on accurate data is imperative, but collecting the needed data doesn’t have to cost a fortune.   </p><p>You can watch the full webinar <a href="http://americanorchestras.adobeconnect.com/pnh28fkpnd10/?launcher=false&fcsContent=true&pbMode=normal&smartPause=true" target="_blank">here</a>.<br></p>||Wallace editorial team||79||2019-05-01T04:00:00Z||Your source for research and ideas to expand high quality learning and enrichment opportunities. Supporting: School Leadership, After School, Summer and Extended Learning Time, Arts Education and Building Audiences for the Arts.||5/1/2019 7:11:40 PM||The Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Getting Started on Building Audiences for the Arts Webinar spotlights articles, videos and other resources to help arts ||149||https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspx||html||False||aspx|
|Five Organizations, Five Different Strategies to Build Arts Audiences||3347||GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61||<p>In 2015, Wallace set out on the
<a href="/how-we-work/our-work/pages/building-audiences-for-the-arts.aspx">Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative</a>, a six-year journey with
<a href="/knowledge-center/building-audiences-for-sustainability/pages/bas-appendix.aspx">26 arts organizations</a> to figure out ways to stem decades of declines in arts audiences. The initiative supports organizations' efforts to draw new audiences, encourage repeat attendance, interest people in new works or any other goal they feel is necessary to bring them closer to their mission. </p><p>The results of these efforts so far are as diverse as the organizations themselves (now down to 25 after one organization exited the initiative). Some strategies have shown success. Others faltered and required significant reexamination. Many fall somewhere in between, helping to meet some of an organization's objectives but not others. </p><p> Researchers from the University of Texas are studying these efforts to see if they can spot any trends and uncover evidence that could help other organizations. Firm results aren't expected until 2020, so we sent writers and video crews to five of the participating organizations over the past few years to see how things were going. Their stories show some intriguing early results that other groups might consider as they formulate their own audience-building plans.</p><p>"There's no one-size-fits-all solution for all organizations, of course," says Bahia Ramos, Wallace's arts director. "But these stories offer some interesting examples of how market research and methodical experimentation could move organizations towards their audience goals. Each organization's experience is specific to its own local context, but we hope these stories will spark some ideas in other organizations facing similar concerns."</p><p>Click through below to see what the organizations are trying and how they're faring so far:</p><p>
<img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="BAS-Ballet-Austin-1.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Five-Organizations-Five-Different-Strategies-to-Build-Arts-Audiences/BAS-Ballet-Austin-1.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:809px;height:482px;" />
<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/ballet-austin-building-audiences-for-sustainability.aspx">Ballet Austin</a> planned to shepherd audiences along a "familiarity continuum," a path it assumed audiences take from classics such as
<em>The Nutcracker</em> to obscure contemporary performances. Market research suggested, however, that there is no such path; audiences seem less concerned about familiarity with the work than they are about the uncertainty of the experience. The organization therefore reoriented efforts from informing audiences about new works to ensuring they felt at home, regardless of the show.</p><p>
<img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="BAS-SSO-7.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Five-Organizations-Five-Different-Strategies-to-Build-Arts-Audiences/BAS-SSO-7.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:809px;height:482px;" />
<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/can-the-citys-boom-mean-new-audiences-for-seattle-symphony.aspx">Seattle Symphony</a> came up with three series of informal performances to capitalize on explosive growth in downtown Seattle. The organization assumed most of the area's emigres were millennials, so it focused on edgier performances and incorporated contemporary musicians to draw younger crowds. But market research showed that Gen-Xers and older empty-nesters were also promising targets. The organization therefore tweaked its series to accommodate a broader age range, with encouraging early results.</p><p>
<img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="BAS-DCPA-5.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Five-Organizations-Five-Different-Strategies-to-Build-Arts-Audiences/BAS-DCPA-5.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:809px;height:482px;" />
<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/denver-center-for-the-performing-arts-is-cracking-the-millennial-code.aspx">Off Center, an experimental theater company at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts</a>, is testing interactive and immersive performances to see if they draw millennials. Its first Wallace-funded performance was a resounding success. The second, which attempted to replicate that success at lower cost, didn't do as well. But the organization used those experiences to create future performances that, so far, are keeping the company moving in the right direction.</p><p>
<img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="BAS-OTSL-3.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Five-Organizations-Five-Different-Strategies-to-Build-Arts-Audiences/BAS-OTSL-3.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:809px;height:482px;" />
<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/think-opera-is-not-for-you-opera-theatre-of-saint-louis-says-think-again.aspx">Opera Theatre of Saint Louis</a> tried many strategies to draw young, diverse audiences to compensate for audiences that are aging out of regular attendance, but few worked. The company was baffled, until it conducted market research, which challenged assumptions about potential audiences and the sorts of performances that would draw them. It has responded by refining its approach and revamping many engagement programs to help break stereotypes of opera audiences. </p><p>
<img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="IMG_8545.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Five-Organizations-Five-Different-Strategies-to-Build-Arts-Audiences/IMG_8545.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:809px;height:482px;" />
<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/world-music-crasharts-tests-new-format-new-name-to-draw-new-audiences.aspx">World Music/CRASHarts, a presenter in Boston</a> with no dedicated space of its own, started hosting an annual festival to attract millennials and build name recognition. The party atmosphere of the festival appears to be bringing some younger people into the fold, but it's unclear whether the strategy is financially sustainable. The research that preceded the festival, however, is triggering a much broader change: a new name for the organization and a whole new brand identity.</p><p>Need more ideas? Check out some of the other free resources to help build audiences in
<a href="/knowledge-center/building-audiences-for-the-arts/pages/default.aspx">our knowledge center</a>. </p>||Wallace editorial team||79||2019-03-19T04:00:00Z||Early accounts from a major Wallace initiative to help increase participation in the arts.||3/22/2019 4:50:21 PM||The Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Five Organizations, Five Different Strategies to Build Arts Audiences Early accounts from a major Wallace initiative to ||773||https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspx||html||False||aspx|
|Addressing the "Uncertainty Gap" and Other Audience-Building Strategies||16085||GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61||<p><em>Two years ago, we kicked off our BAS (Building Audiences for Sustainability) Stories Project with a written and video account of Ballet Austin’s effort </em><a href="/knowledge-center/pages/ballet-austin-building-audiences-for-sustainability.aspx"><em>to expand audiences for unfamiliar works</em></a><em>. To see how the work has been progressing, we asked the company’s executive director Cookie Ruiz to jot down some thoughts. The following is an edited version of our email exchange. </em></p><p><strong>In the original story, the author notes that Ballet Austin was “not considering altering programming to meet audience tastes, but they hoped to understand how audiences were viewing and responding to what the ballet company produced.” Why is it so important to you not to change who you are for the sake of growing your audience, and how do you strike a balance between what audiences expect and what Ballet Austin wants to deliver. </strong></p><p>While we value and respect the restaging of wonderful works that reflect the history of ballet and great classic stories, we cherish the process of bringing new works to the stage. There is simply nothing like it. Today’s artists have much to say and we believe that art is an effective way to share different perspectives. </p><p>So we wonder…why are people so reluctant to try something new when it comes to their entertainment? What is the source of the reluctance? Knowing now that there is an “uncertainty gap,” what does it take to close that gap and trigger a sale for work with which people are less familiar? </p><p>If all we needed to do was change the programming, we would never have needed to ask this question, and we would have missed out on the most fascinating three years of learning. </p><p><strong>Based on market research findings, Ballet Austin adjusted many activities surrounding the performances to help audiences feel more comfortable about attending the ballet. Have you continued growing these programs, and do you have any new findings to share? </strong></p><p>One of the most valuable disciplines coming from BAS is the importance of the “not to do” list. Many arts organizations offer a veritable plethora of audience engagement opportunities. We all do them because, let’s face it, people keep coming and it’s probably not hurting anything. </p><p>No more.  Even the safe “legacy” strategies we’ve all been doing for years–such as the pre-curtain lecture and the post-performance talk-back–take time and planning that could be used elsewhere, if these strategies are deemed to be ineffective. </p><p>In Round One of BAS we learned that our audience seeks two major connections through the work:  1) a social connection and/or 2) an emotional/intellectual connection.  We used this information to design an array of pre-sale to post-performance experience paths. </p><p>Last season we had the opportunity to sit down with six groups of audience members; one of those groups was comprised of adult dance students selected from the 35% of our audience that self-reports that they are currently taking dance classes.</p><p>When showed sample digital video content that was used to promote ticket sales to a recent “less familiar work,” this one group skewed dramatically away from the other five groups in their response to the content. What emerged from this research engagement was the realization that we have a third connection…a<strong> </strong>“kinesthetic connection.” These audience members experience the work through their own bodies, with a focus on the choreography itself. Through data mining we learned the happy news that those taking a dance class prior to purchasing their first ticket are more than twice as likely to buy a ticket. </p><p><strong>How does Ballet Austin make decisions on what to continue and what to abandon?</strong> <strong>Can you give an example of something you stopped doing, because the research told you the costs outweighed the benefits?</strong></p><p>When we design a prototype, it has a clearly articulated goal and specific measureable expectations. The Wallace method requires routine evaluation of the prototype. During this process we discuss if there is a variable we might change, followed by a retest. When we realize that the prototype completely failed to meet its goals, then it is out and the prototype is retired.</p><p>An example of this came in year one when we piloted a livestream studio rehearsal, “Ballet Austin Live.” Our team became quite adept at delivering a series of well-produced episodes, but the livestream did not meet its key benchmarks. In fact, during a series of focus groups we learned that we were actually confusing some members of the audience who had no understanding of where the livestream was taking place, or why the dancers weren’t in costume. We made the assumption that viewers would understand the rehearsal process.  </p><p>Ultimately by freeing up the time and considerable dollars, we learned that these “social connectors” preferred for us to send them a “movie trailer” style video with all the pertinent information, helping them to quickly forward to their friends as a suggestion to join them.</p><p><strong>What advice can you offer to organizations who seek to learn from Ballet Austin’s experiences?</strong></p><ul><li>Listen to your audience. We often assume we know what our audiences want, without ever actually asking. At Ballet Austin, we implemented a “Listening Tour” where we conducted calls and in-person sessions to listen to our customers. We found this information essential to help us understand where to focus our efforts.</li><li>You don’t need expensive tools to gather information. The phone calls and in-person sessions were a low-cost way to receive feedback, and Survey Monkey is an easy tool, available to anyone.</li><li>When developing new strategies, articulate and write down a specific goal so that you’re able to accurately measure the outcome.  This is important because it reminds you to end a prototype if it is not successful. This also helps prevent “legacy strategies” that remain year after year, without being able to point to the specific outputs that justify the time and budget support. </li></ul><p><strong>In the 2017 video you said, “We’re asking ourselves what we know and what do we need to know?” What do you know now that you didn’t know two years ago? </strong></p><p>We thought we were dealing with an issue of familiarity, a lack of information. If that had been true we could have solved this by simply providing information. We now know we are dealing with something far more nuanced, an “uncertainty gap” that must be closed in order to trigger a sale. We also found that from time to time we were actually inadvertently “widening” the gap rather than closing it. </p><p>Titles matter, too.<strong> </strong>If the title of the work does not resonate,<strong> </strong>we can lose potential audience members, and we don’t get them back. Related, we’ve retired the term “non-narrative<strong>.”  </strong>The attraction and need for a narrative arc is strong among most audience members, but there is room to differentiate between story, plot and inspiration. Audiences are not homogeneous. If we fail to approach our audience members in a highly-segmented way, they simply won’t hear us. </p><p>Young does not necessarily equal open-minded.  Our research shows us that while 70 percent of our audience is under the age of 51, and while our city is filled with young technology-focused professionals, younger audience members tend to select the most familiar work. The audience for less familiar/new work currently relates to educational attainment (the average educational attainment of these audience members is a Master’s degree) and life experience. Also, nearly 60% of our audience members were involved in our art form (dance) as a child; 34% of our audience is taking dance today and 35% of their children are currently taking dance. </p><p>Finally, the magic of number three: we’ve learned that once an audience member attends their third performance, they are more likely to repurchase, becoming our repeat customer with whom we can develop a long relationship.</p>||Wallace editorial team||79||2019-01-29T05:00:00Z||Ballet Austin continues to gather information, listen to its audiences and develop new strategies.||1/29/2019 3:00:08 PM||The Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Addressing the "Uncertainty Gap" and Other Audience-Building Strategies Ballet Austin continues to gather information ||783||https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspx||html||False||aspx|