Adventure or Uncertainty: How Arts Organizations are Using Market Research to Build Audiences with an Appetite for Risk: While performances of The Nutcracker and Christmas Carol perennially sell-out, arts organizations aren’t always able to bring those audiences back for riskier work. Yet audience-building efforts don’t often challenge the assumptions driving that attendance gap. Adventure or Uncertainty reassembles a panel of cross-disciplinary Wallace Foundation grantees to discuss how market research transformed their ideas about adventurous audiences, risky programming, and the barriers of uncertainty.
Marketing & Communications Director
University Musical Society
Sara Billmann is the marketing & communications director for the University Musical Society (UMS), a 135-year-old presenting organization at the University of Michigan, where she oversees the strategic and creative campaigns for a 50-event season in classical music, theater, dance, jazz, and world music. She served as project director for the development of the interactive platform umslobby.org and oversaw a rebranding effort that was completed in 2012. She received a B.A. from the University of Michigan and an M.B.A. from Stanford University. In addition to her role at UMS, she is affiliated with WolfBrown, an arts consulting firm. In 2010, she was invited to join 50 international arts professionals in the Salzburg Global Seminar on "Performing Arts in Lean Times: Opportunities for Reinvention."
Director of Marketing
Jay is about to enter his 13th season with the Goodman Theatre. Prior to joining the Goodman, Jay was the associate director of marketing for The Joffrey Ballet.
Jenny is starting her 9th season at the Goodman. As Director of Advertising she creates and oversees all single ticket marketing campaigns for the theater as well as spearheading all Wallace Grant initiatives. She always had a passion for arts marketing which lead her to graduate from Illinois State University with degrees in Theatre and Public Relations followed by roles at Apple Tree Theatre and Fox Valley Repertory. She has served as a guest lecturer in arts marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Associate Artistic Director
Michelle Martin danced professionally with Alberta Ballet, Indianapolis Ballet Theatre, Hartford Ballet and Ballet Austin. She began her tenure with Ballet Austin in 1991 as a dancer and was appointed ballet mistress in 1992. Subsequently she founded Ballet Austin II followed by the Trainee Program (now Butler Fellowship Program). Additionally, Martin supervises the curriculum of Ballet Austin Academy, designs audience engagement programs and writes grants. She also stages the work of artistic director/ choreographer, Stephen Mills, for companies nationally. Martin has been the associate artistic director of Ballet Austin since 2000.