In 2019, we’ve been working again with Ballet Austin and the Goodman Theatre on related research questions: How do audiences decide to  take the leap of attending dance or theater performances that they don’t know much about? Both organizations are grantees of the Wallace Foundation’s national arts funding program, Building Audiences for Sustainability, and both have been exploring these questions over several years with Slover Linett and other researchers. For the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, the new research explores the role of “stamps” of approval, such as positive reviews and word of mouth, in audiences’ decision-making about new plays. For Ballet Austin, the current study surveys three specific audience segments to understand how they move along the “familiarity continuum” over time and how the company can encourage them to attend unfamiliar repertoire despite the associated uncertainty. (Ballet Austin’s previous work on this question—including the “uncertainty gap” that our research revealed—is described in a Wallace Foundation case study, “Expanding Audiences for Unfamiliar Works”.)

Ballet Austin: Building Audiences for Sustainability

All of us at Slover Linett are grateful for the Wallace team’s generous support of this research.

To learn more about our dance and theater research, including our work with Wallace Foundation grantees in multiple arts disciplines, contact our president, Peter Linett.

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