Services for performing arts

We study theatergoers, dance attenders, classical music and opera patrons, and other arts audiences along the full spectrum from non-attenders and single-ticket-buyers to longtime subscribers and donors.

Sometimes we do it quantitatively, other times qualitatively. Sometimes we lead a "deep dive" involving mutiple phases and audiences. Other times we repeat a single survey over successive seasons to keep abreast of changing audience expectations, behaviors, and engagement levels.

But always, we do it strategically, working with both the "business" side of the house and the artistic side to give the whole organization a shared picture of how audiences are responding and what can be done to heighten the connection. Our findings help the whole organization position, target, and message more effectively...understand engagement and drive innovation...and ramp up commitment and support.

What does that look like in practice? Here are just a few of the types of research we conduct for arts organizations.
 

 

  • Patron tracking surveys
    Ongoing, annual surveys of attenders — this is the heart of many arts organizations’ audience research program. The statistical findings give the whole organization, from box office staff to the board of trustees, an evolving picture of subscriber and STB satisfaction, needs, responses, and behaviors.

  • Marketplace and customer segmentation
    We can survey the community or marketplace you serve, then identify distinct segments within that overall audience – segments with different attitudes, preferences, and behaviors.  This is called “psychographic segmentation,” and it can go far beyond demographic targeting to bring new clarity in areas from marketing to programming.

  • Social media and online behavior research
    How are your audiences using – and enjoying – the new-media content and technologies your arts organization has invested in?  How do social media fit into the lives of your patrons, and what roles are they playing in attendance decisions, brand perceptions, and expectations?

  • Positioning/branding focus groups
    How is your arts organization perceived by culture-goers in your city or region? What kinds of messages would help you grow your audiences or draw new types of ticket-buyers – while still keeping your core audience enthusiastic and comfortable?

  • Ticketing database analysis & mapping
    You’re sitting on a cache of data about your subscribers, STBs, and donors. We can bring that information to light, identify segments for targeting, map households geographically to spotlight high-potential areas, and even connect subscription and donation histories with survey responses for a more detailed picture of engagement.

  • “Experience sampling” with target audiences
    Sometimes the best way to learn about new audience segments is to invite some of them to a performance as part of a research study, then conduct interviews or focus groups to see how they felt about the experience. Listening to non-attenders talk about your organization can build empathy and reveal unexpected opportunities.

  • Lapsed subscriber surveys
    Why do some subscribers decide not to renew, and what could you do to bring them back?  Are they less engaged than renewing subscribers, or do they have different motivations and face different barriers to attendance or subscription?

  • Donor surveys and interviews
    Why do people give to your organization, and what would make them feel even more strongly about supporting? We study artsgoers to understand both the emotional and rational components of support, identify types of givers, and explore the lifetime engagement cycle.

  • Testing new performance formats
    Innovating in arts programming is easier and more successful when you bring your audiences into the planning process before and during development.  We can “test” new formats and experiences to inform decision-making, generate new ideas, and optimize the new experiences you’re offering arts consumers.

  • Education and outreach studies
    Are you an arts educator or outreach coordinator striving to engage nontraditional or underserved audiences?  Our evaluations of such programs generate valuable feedback from program partners and participants, and help you demonstrate impact to the foundations and corporations that fund them.

  • Competitor/peer best-practices reviews
    What can you learn from the successes – and innovative failures – of other arts and culture organizations?  As an indpendent research firm, we can interview key players at your national or international peers and local competitors, then systematically profile and analyze the lessons learned.

  • Community and stakeholder research
    To increase their relevance in a changing society, many arts organizations are reaching out to partner with community organizations, civic leaders, fellow cultural nonprofits, and even for-profit developers and businesses. We can help you understand the perspectives and needs of those stakeholders through interviews, focus groups, and facilitated public gatherings.


In addition to these research services, we also offer a few planning & consulting services to help arts leaders innovate, envision, define, and implement more engaging experiences for the audiences of today and tomorrow.

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March 14, 2014 | Nicole Baltazar

Multiculturalism is key for creating inclusive arts experiences

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Last month, Coca-Cola aired its now-famous Super Bowl ad depicting people from various racial, ethnic, and cultural groups singing “America the Beautiful” together in different languages. Among the instant outpouring of polarized reactions to this ad rang much praise for its depiction of a multicultural America. Yet the ad provoked a slew of negative responses as well. Many of the ad’s detractors questioned whether this multicultural America could ever feel as cohesive as an America whose citizens speak a common language, and therefore have taken great strides toward assimilating into a common culture.

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Method matters

Most of the studies listed on this page can be conducted using a range of research tools. The right choice is a matter of your goals, budget, available info, and the target audience. Here are some of the tools we use to study performing arts consumers:

  • Online surveys with targeted email invitations
  • Focus groups at a research facility in your city, recruited from your lists or the facility's population database
  • Telephone interviews (qualitative, in-depth conversations)
  • Telephone surveys (quantitative, mostly scale and multiple choice questions)
  • Paper surveys inserted in program books or placed on every n-th seat
  • Ethnographic observation and in-context interviews (e.g., before, between, or after performances or special events)