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What Theater Can Do Best3559GP0|#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&#160;Associate Artistic Director of&#160;Denver Center&#160;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> <br> This following is an excerpted and edited version of the exchange.</p><p> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; Can you provide a brief overview of the Denver Center and your work with the Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative?</strong> <br> <br> Miller&#58; 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> <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&#58;5px;" /> &#160;&#160;Corinna Schulenburg, director of communications, Theatre Communications Group and Charlie Miller, associate artistic director, Denver Center Theatre Company. </p><p><strong>Schulenburg&#58; Can you say a little bit more about the aesthetic and the audience experience of immersive theater?</strong> <br> <br> Miller&#58; 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> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; <br> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; 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&#160;have a particular relationship to this kind of work?</strong> <br> <br> Miller&#58; 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> <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> <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.” <br> <br> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; 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> <br> Miller&#58; &#160;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 &amp; 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. <br> <br> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; 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> <br> Miller&#58; The production that is running right now is called <em> <a href="https&#58;//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 &amp; Lucky</em>&#58; 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. <br> <br> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; Do you have any advice for smaller organizations looking to begin the work of audience building?</strong> <br> <br> Miller&#58; &#160;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> <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&#58; 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, &quot;</strong><strong><a href="https&#58;//www.nytimes.com/2019/03/23/sunday-review/human-contact-luxury-screens.html">Human Contact Is Now A Luxury Good</a></strong><strong>&quot; – have you seen it?</strong></p><p>Miller&#58; Oh yes, I did see this piece. <br> <br> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; 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> <br> Miller&#58; 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> <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 team792019-06-25T04:00:00ZChecking in with Denver Center’s Theater Company on what they’ve learned about their audiences from championing immersive theater6/27/2019 3:57:01 PMThe 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 890https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
New Name, New Look to Draw a New Generation of Fans3997GP0|#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&#58;//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 &quot;World Music/CRASHarts.&quot;</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&#58;5px;" /> <p>To give the descriptive name some emotional resonance, Minelli proposed a dynamic tagline, &quot;Performance that shapes our world.&quot; 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&#58;</p> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/embed/91i3so4sVEw" frameborder="0"></iframe> <br><p>&quot;We present many different artists from all over the world—performing dance, world music, jazz—in different venues across the city,&quot; said associate director Susan Weiler in an email. &quot;The tagline, messaging and other brand assets give us a road map to adjust the brand to each artist, discipline and venue.&quot;</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&#58;5px;" /><br><br></p> <p>&quot;The new identity is full of energy and movement,&quot; Weiler said. &quot;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.&quot;</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. &quot;Creating a new brand requires deep resources in staff time, staff capacity and financial investment,&quot; Weiler said. &quot;But operating with an ineffective brand can ultimately cost an organization more.&quot;</p>Wallace editorial team792019-06-20T04:00:00ZYour 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 PMThe 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 271https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
For Steppenwolf Theatre the Connection’s the Thing3710GP0|#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.&#160;</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&#58; The Public Square Launches, and Expands</h2><p> Steppenwolf began creating its public square through three engagement tactics&#58; </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&#160;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&#160;September 1, 2007, to&#160;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. &#160;​<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&#58;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>&#160;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&#160;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&#58; 46 percent are Millennials, according to the theater's ticketing database,&#160;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 Harlow822019-06-11T04:00:00ZIn 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 PMThe 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 377https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
A Range of Opportunities Brings New Audiences to Decades-Old Ceramics Studio3628GP0|#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&#160;and retail space, including thousands who&#160;are first-timers to the studio and to clay itself. The organization’s popularity with newcomers&#160;​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.&#160;The solution,&#160;senior staff&#160;determined, was to find opportunities among Philadelphia’s large population of young professionals.<br></p><p>&#160;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&#160;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&#58; 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&#58;5px;" /><br></p><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption">Note&#58; 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.&#160;</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.&#160;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 Harlow822019-05-30T04:00:00ZYour 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 PMThe 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 280https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Many Questions, Some Leads to Build Arts Audiences3081GP0|#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&#58; 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&#58; <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&#58;//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&#58; 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.&#160; </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?&#160; </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. &#160;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. &#160;&#160;</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.&#160; &#160;&#160;</p><p><strong>It seems there are two gaps in the literature&#58; 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&#58;&#160; 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.&#160; 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 team792019-05-13T04:00:00ZAuthor 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 PMThe 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 254https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Getting Started on Building Audiences for the Arts4143GP0|#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&amp;utm_campaign=4a7246312d-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_03_08_08_48&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;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&#58; Taking action based on accurate data is imperative, but collecting the needed data doesn’t have to cost a fortune. &#160; </p><p>You can watch the full webinar <a href="http&#58;//americanorchestras.adobeconnect.com/pnh28fkpnd10/?launcher=false&amp;fcsContent=true&amp;pbMode=normal&amp;smartPause=true" target="_blank">here</a>.<br></p>Wallace editorial team792019-05-01T04:00:00ZYour 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 PMThe 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 102https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Five Organizations, Five Different Strategies to Build Arts Audiences3347GP0|#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>&quot;There's no one-size-fits-all solution for all organizations, of course,&quot; says Bahia Ramos, Wallace's arts director. &quot;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.&quot;</p><p>Click through below to see what the organizations are trying and how they're faring so far&#58;</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&#58;5px;width&#58;809px;height&#58;482px;" /> </p><p> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/ballet-austin-building-audiences-for-sustainability.aspx">Ballet Austin</a> planned to shepherd audiences along a &quot;familiarity continuum,&quot; 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> <br> <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&#58;5px;width&#58;809px;height&#58;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> <br> <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&#58;5px;width&#58;809px;height&#58;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> <br> <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&#58;5px;width&#58;809px;height&#58;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> <br> <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&#58;5px;width&#58;809px;height&#58;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&#58; 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 team792019-03-19T04:00:00ZEarly accounts from a major Wallace initiative to help increase participation in the arts.3/22/2019 4:50:21 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Five Organizations, Five Different Strategies to Build Arts Audiences Early accounts from a major Wallace initiative to 491https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Addressing the "Uncertainty Gap" and Other Audience-Building Strategies16085GP0|#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?&#160;</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.&#160; 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&#58;&#160; 1) a social connection and/or 2) an emotional/intellectual connection.&#160; 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. &#160;</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.&#160; 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>.”&#160; </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.&#160; 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&#58; 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 team792019-01-29T05:00:00ZBallet Austin continues to gather information, listen to its audiences and develop new strategies.1/29/2019 3:00:08 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Addressing the "Uncertainty Gap" and Other Audience-Building Strategies Ballet Austin continues to gather information 677https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
How Can Opera Draw Younger and More Diverse Crowds?3322GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61 <p>When tenor Joshua Blue gets together with friends, they sometimes kick around the same question nagging opera companies and other performing arts presenters everywhere&#58; how to draw younger, more diverse audiences to the art form they love. They have a few ideas, including a radical one that would test their own powers of concentration. &#160;</p><p>But let’s back up and meet Blue. The 24-year-old rising star, who this season is singing Alfredo Germont in “La Traviata” and as a soloist in “A Concert of Comic Masterpieces,” among other roles, at the Washington National Opera, precociously signaled his own interest in music at age 3, when he started plunking on the piano in his home after watching his sister practice. His mother decided to get him lessons, too. Once he was in school, a friend convinced him to join a choir group—both of his parents sang in choirs—and then “a teacher had me get exposed to every kind of vocal group there was.” He attended Waubonsie Valley High School, his local public school in Aurora, Il., which happens to have a Grammy Award-winning music program. On a choir group trip to Australia, Blue saw his first opera (“La Traviata”). Soon thereafter—as he was going into his senior year in high school—he decided that he wanted to be a professional opera singer.</p><p>But to state the obvious, “Historically, classical music wasn’t something that black families had access to,” Blue notes, and therefore they couldn’t teach their children about it. In the past, schools might have filled the gap, but nowadays, given the cuts in arts education funding, most kids just aren’t exposed to opera at all—unless, of course, opera companies take on the task. </p><p>If opera is to flourish, Blue says that opera companies must do that. He believes that they should go into schools, churches, community centers and the local YMCA, perhaps offering free one-hour sessions&#58; “Instead of asking them to come to the opera, you have to take it to them in their own comfort zones.” He cites the Opera on the Go program of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL), “where the performers are in jeans and polos,” as a good example. </p><p>OTSL, which receives funds from the Wallace Foundation through its Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/think-opera-is-not-for-you-opera-theatre-of-saint-louis-says-think-again.aspx">also offers a program called Opera Tastings, </a> where Blue has performed. At these events, which Blue lauds as a “low-pressure” way to introduce opera to those who are unfamiliar with it, people listen to live opera excerpts while they sample food and drink that is paired with the performances. </p><p>But even with such efforts, Blue says you can’t expect people to buy tickets right away. “If they’ve never gone, they don’t know if they are supposed to wear a suit, or buy a bottle of champagne, or what else to expect,” he says. And if they’ve seen only a one-hour concert version of “The Barber of Seville,” say, they are not going to buy $200 tickets to a full-blown production of it even if they loved it, he adds. Blue recommends offering lower-price tickets for initial purchasers. </p><p>Then Blue turns to that revolutionary idea&#58; he thinks opera companies could offer one show per season that is “family-friendly.” People could bring their babies and children and be given the message&#58; “We don’t care if they make noise, we’ll keep doing the presentation—we are taught to act with absolutely anything happening.” Blue says he knows people who cannot attend because they can’t get, or afford, a baby-sitter and they know their children will not keep quiet during a performance. This idea would address that issue for them. Wallace’s research over the last few decades has both documented that <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/breaking-the-practical-barriers-of-arts-participation.aspx?_ga=2.255114048.971312321.1546880470-1057583374.1513009179">such “practical barriers”</a> may factor into the considerations of many who might attend an arts event and discovered what some organizations are doing about it.</p><p>Blue also sees language as a problem for many would-be attendees. Sub- or super-titles simply do not solve the problem for some people who don’t like switching back and forth from the action to the words, he says. He wishes more companies performed in English, though he realizes that would annoy traditional opera-goers. </p><p>Blue also thinks that some opera companies are wrongly fiddling with programming to attract more diverse audiences&#58; “They think, if we do ‘Porgy &amp; Bess,’ we’ll get African-Americans.” And maybe they will—but he believes that the better way is to aim for diversity in casting. “You don’t need to do ‘Porgy &amp; Bess’ to see more blacks in the audience; you should just hire a more diverse group of people for roles.”</p><p>“In a perfect world,” he adds, “you want your performers to reflect your audience; you want them to be just as diverse in age and gender and race as we are on stage.” This is necessary, he believes, because “people want to go and support people that remind you of yourself. That makes it easier to put yourself into the story, to make the emotional connection.” </p><p>“It is beginning to happen,” Blue says. “Opera will look completely different in 20 years. As shows and casts become more diverse you’ll see audiences follow suit. We are starting to see it. Diversity is a key factor in keeping opera alive.”</p> To see how other arts organizations are working to build and retain audiences, visit our <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/the-building-audiences-for-sustainability-stories-project.aspx">Building Audiences for Sustainability Stories page</a>. Judith H. Dobrzynski892019-01-08T05:00:00ZOne young tenor has some ideas to make the art form more accessible to new audiences1/16/2019 9:42:39 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / How Can Opera Draw Younger and More Diverse Crowds One young tenor has some ideas to make the art form more accessible to 863https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Experienced Hands Help Marketers Refine Strategies to Build Arts Audiences16094GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>Marketing and communications professionals from arts organizations around the country come together every year for the <a href="https&#58;//namp.americansforthearts.org/get-smarter/conference" target="_blank">National Arts Marketing Project Conference</a>, an event hosted by the advocacy and support organization <a href="https&#58;//www.americansforthearts.org/" target="_blank">Americans for the Arts</a>. Here, they share ideas about how they can engage larger numbers of ticket-buyers and reverse decades long declines in arts audiences in the U.S.</p><p>The conference often includes panels on the nuts and bolts of marketing&#58; effective use of social media, making sense of web analytics, best practices for email marketing and the like. </p><p>This year’s event, held in Seattle in November, featured a pre-conference workshop that took a broader view of audience development. About 90 attendees huddled together to identify major hurdles they encounter when trying to build audiences and propose solutions to overcome them. They had more than just their collective wisdom to work off, however. They could also rely on the experiences of Ballet Austin, the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Seattle Symphony, three organizations participating in Wallace’s <a href="/how-we-work/our-work/pages/building-audiences-for-the-arts.aspx">Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative</a>, and on the research of Bob Harlow, a market research expert who has been observing Wallace’s audience-development efforts for years.</p><p>The problems participants identified, and their proposed solutions, may sound familiar to many arts organizations. The panel used its experience and research to add important context.</p><p>“People think we’re elitist,” said one person trying to bring more ethnic diversity to her audiences. Would they change their minds if they saw more diversity in the organization?</p><p> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="NAMP-final2-lg-feature.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Experienced-Hands-Help-Marketers-Refine-Strategies-to-Build-Arts-Audiences/NAMP-final2-lg-feature.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;529px;" />A bit of familiarity could go a long way, said Charlie Wade, senior vice president of marketing and business operations at the Seattle Symphony. The symphony <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/can-the-citys-boom-mean-new-audiences-for-seattle-symphony.aspx">increased retention rates by 12 percentage points</a> among target audiences simply by assigning staff members to greet visitors by name. A personal connection, he said, especially when greeters look like the audience an organization is hoping to attract, could pay dividends.</p><p>“People are not certain about the value they will get and whether it is worth their time and money,” said another who was hoping to draw audiences to edgy, contemporary performances. Could they be convinced if the organization recalibrated costs and benefits by offering discounts or explaining why the performances are important?</p><p> <img class="wf-Image-Right" alt="NAMP-final3-lg-feature.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Experienced-Hands-Help-Marketers-Refine-Strategies-to-Build-Arts-Audiences/NAMP-final3-lg-feature.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;192px;" />“Uncertainty is complex,” responded Cookie Ruiz, executive director of Ballet Austin. It is more important, she said, to sell a story than it is to offer deals or recount the history of an art form. <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/ballet-austin-building-audiences-for-sustainability.aspx">People go to the ballet for social experiences or emotional rewards, her organization’s research suggested, not for ticket prices or a performance’s place in the artistic tradition</a>.</p><p>“Our audience is so damn tired. Why would they want to try one more thing?” asked one woman hoping to draw busy young professionals. Could previews of events help entice them?</p><p>Lia Chiarelli, director of marketing and communications at the Pacific Northwest Ballet, believes they could. “You need to give people a little something to go on,” she said. <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/showing-young-people-they-belong-at-the-ballet.aspx">Her organization offers live events and video previews that are drawing thousands of teens and young professionals every year</a>. </p><p>Implicit in these ideas was an emphasis <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/encouraging-frequent-attendance-for-the-arts.aspx">on the audience’s journey</a> from a passing interest to a lasting commitment. “Starting with empathy [for the audience,]” said Ruiz, “and then removing the points of friction along the way is a great way to start.”</p><p> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="NAMP-final4-lg-feature.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Experienced-Hands-Help-Marketers-Refine-Strategies-to-Build-Arts-Audiences/NAMP-final4-lg-feature.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;423px;" /> </p><p>Bob Harlow, who has authored <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/wallace-studies-in-building-arts-audiences.aspx">several detailed case studies about Wallace-funded audience-development efforts</a>, added a larger point to the discussion. He pointed to <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/the-road-to-results-effective-practices-for-building-arts-audiences.aspx">nine effective practices he distilled from these case studies</a>. “My group found that of the nine effective practices, only five have to do with building relationships,” he said. “The other four are all about organizational factors.”</p><p>Success is impossible without a sustained commitment and a coordinated effort throughout an organization, he said. Pacific Northwest Ballet would not have seen the success it did with younger audiences, Harlow said, if Artistic Director Peter Boal had not recognized their importance for the future relevance of the art form and the organization. <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/research-and-self-reflection-help-strengthen-community-ties.aspx">The Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia would not have increased local youth participation by 13 percentage points</a>, he added, if the organization’s leaders hadn’t decided that the organization had to change with its neighborhood.</p><p> Such changes don’t come without resistance from within the organization, Harlow added. But this resistance must be heard and understood. “They care about the organization and that’s where the resistance comes from,” he said of staffers who may be unhappy about proposed changes. “They are your allies. Don’t shut them down.” </p><p><em>Top left photo&#58; Charlie Wade, senior vice president of marketing and business operations at the Seattle Symphony. </em><em>Right side photo&#58; Cookie Ruiz, executive director of Ballet Austin.</em></p>Wallace editorial team792018-11-15T05:00:00ZThree arts organizations and a researcher share lessons they’ve learned about practices that help attract and retain new audiences11/16/2018 3:00:51 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Experienced Hands Help Marketers Refine Strategies to Build Arts Audiences Three arts organizations and a researcher share 674https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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