Centerpieces and Special Reports
Directed to theatre staff and board members, this section offers in-depth analyses, case studies, and resource tools on specific management issues, as well as reports on research conducted by TCG's Research, Policy & Collective Action department. Topics include governance, marketing, development, education, and general management issues and are curated by specialists in each area. Select from the topics below to see all Centerpieces or Special Reports in that category. Please contact Ilana B. Rose, associate director of research & collective action, at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
The growing importance of technology in marketing and fundraising is a frequent topic of interest in TCG meetings, teleconferences and email requests. This report is a compilation of the responses from the 125 theatres that shared information about the extent to which they are selling tickets and receiving contributions online.
CENTERSTAGE's director of audience development Barbara Watson outlines strategies for partnering with local newspapers. Watson posits that the common bonds between not-for-profit theatres and newspapers such as shared values, challenges and "audiences" can become the basis for mutually beneficial relationships that can greatly extend the advertising dollars of arts organizations struggling to retain their buying power in the face of shrinking budgets.
A nuts-and-bolts guide for developing (or re-developing) your theatre's website. This Centerpiece poses key questions a theatre should consider before the design process even begins, suggests usability tips to keep in mind while the site is being built and provides maintenance and marketing strategies once the site has been launched.
Since last fall, uncertain economic times have become war times. In either situation, promoting theatrical experiences seems to be a lot more complicated. Consumers are jittery and staying close to home. Ticket sales for many companies, including those on Broadway, are occurring within a few days of showtime. Managers are asking: How should we adapt to these seemingly temporary—or permanent—consumer trends? This Centerpiece features a New York Times article reprint on the rise of the impulse ticket buyer—across performing arts disciplines—and provides marketing tips that accomodate the widest range of buyer preferences.
Social marketing is not about the promotion of a product; it promotes individual change. Social marketing is the analysis, planning, execution and evaluation of programs designed to influence the voluntary behavior of target audiences—to improve their personal welfare and that of their society. Campaigns like "Buckle Up for Safety" use this approach. Can social marketing be applied to encourage people to become more actively involved with the performing arts? In this Centerpiece, Sabrina Klein, Belinda Taylor and John Warren provide information about Theatre Bay Area's research project, which explores this question.
One of the key challenges facing theatre marketing directors today is branding and the enhancement of the organization's brand image. This piece looks at how theatres can establish and maintain a strong brand, including such issues as customer relationships, the brand environment, research and brand expression. Also includes a case study of Centre Stage—South Carolina's branding experience and the restructuring of City Theatre's board committees to individualize board participation.
Audience development is a science that requires a strategic plan that is wholly integrated into the fabric of your arts institution. It is grounded in the history of the institution as well as the history of the audience, and based on understanding of and openness toward diverse cultures. Donna Walker-Kuhne provides an audience development tutorial of sorts, with specific tools and procedures to enable the process and experiences from her work at the Joseph Papp Public Theater.
Target marketing has evolved into "relationship marketing," which requires an acute understanding of the consumer's desire to have some type of relationship with an organization and the ability to keep a wide variety of these relationships engaged. Audience Development: Whose Job is It? chronicles the efforts of the Seattle Repertory Theatre to coordinate the audience development projects of all departments. Also included is a version of a chart developed by Michalann Hobson designed to assist organizations in the development of a marketing plan.
Since the tragic events of September 11, many theatres—development directors, in particular—have been concerned with many questions regarding the impact of these events on fundraising. Representatives from several major funding institutions answer questions about their continued support of the arts in the wake of September 11.
Many theatres across the country are searching for Internet strategies that will enhance the organization's work, extend the patrons' online experience and significantly impact the box office. Three articles examine how theatres can enhance their online presence—building strong objectives, understanding who is online and what they want, creating inventive online promotions, the importance of customer service management and the use of "viral marketing" through email.
While technology is having a significant impact on philanthropy, the core of development is still forming a trusting personal relationship. A discussion between three theatre development directors delivers a snapshot of the highs and lows of fundraising and Susan St. John, in the article Building Relationships: The Ongoing Challenge, explains how new technology must support the cultivation of the personal aspect of fundraising.
Corporate funding of the arts has changed dramatically and has become increasingly more competitive. Both grantmakers and grantseekers indicate that theatres need to be more creative and strategic with their approach to corporations. Suggestions include identifying potential sponsors and creating benefits packages and cross-promotional opportunities to meet the objectives of corporate prospects.
The Internet is revolutionizing the way we live, work and play, but a quick search reveals that TCG member theatres have utilized the internet to greatly varying degrees. The Internet is a Fundraiser's Dream is a primer on ways to use the web to promote a nonprofit organization, including understanding the internet community, using the internet to find and cultivate funding prospects and questions to ponder while establishing an online presence. The list of useful Internet resources can guide your efforts.
Two articles offer motivation for reducing the conflict and encouraging cooperation between development and marketing. "Sex, Drugs…and Opera," from The Wall Street Journal, examines the necessary teamwork involved in the efforts of the opera world in attracting young adults to performances. Building Individual Support: A Shared Responsibility, examines how theatres can increase both earned and contributed income by treating patrons as individuals rather than categories, and by being flexible, smart and supportive of each other's efforts.
Two pieces inspire thought about collaborative ventures between marketing and development departments. The first looks at broad cultural trends and phenomena affecting institutional advancement and makes recommendations as to how to respond. The second begins the discussion of the interdependence of marketing and development by proposing a restructuring of duties. Marketing and development directors from the field also provide some excellent ideas and success stories.
Even if you do not consider yourself a political activist, you are probably advocating for your theatre every day with a variety of constituencies: audiences, potential audiences, funders, patrons, local press, artists. Just as you already “market” your theatre to these groups, you should consider your elected officials just another segment of your community with whom you stay in regular contact. The most effective and influential way of communicating with your legislators is a personal visit to their district office. Legislators are usually interested in meeting with constituents. This “Grassroots Kit” should help you in conducting visits with your legislators at all levels of government.