Round One Case Studies

As part of AMS Planning & Research's Round One research efforts, AMS compiled data and prepared case studies on eight theatre companies that have incorporated audience engagement as a fundamental component of their service delivery and institutional mission. The companies were selected based on recommendations by TCG leadership, based, in part, on groups that were cited as “best practice” organizations by their peer companies. The theatres represent a variety of geographic locations and institutional sizes.

Executive summary

How a literature review, interviews, and audience surveys led to eight case studies highlighting best practices for audience engagement.

The Executive Summary includes snapshots of the eight case studies, AMS' Audience-Engagement Strategy Clusters, key field trends, shared succeses and challenges, and overall lessons learned.

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Arkansas Repertory Theatre

How The Rep strove to become a "Destination Theatre" through access, affinity, and partnerships.

Strategy #1: Provide audiences with direct access to actors, creative team members and directors in order to involve them more closely in the creative process.

Strategy #2: Create affinity events in conjunction with performances.

Strategy #3: Sell the entire house to a nonprofit partner on the first Tuesday of previews for use in its own cultivation and fundraising.


HERE Arts Center, New York, NY

How HERE used multiple points of creative engagement to keep people coming back for unconventional programming.

Strategy #1: Create multiple points of contact, real and virtual, between resident artists and the greater HERE community.

Strategy #2: Focus on building community partnerships, including co-production with other cultural organizations.

Strategy #3: Streamline the ticket-buying process.


Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven, CT

How Long Wharf Theatre used affordability, artist access, and community partnerships to build audiences.

Strategy #1: Create affordable price points to Long Wharf productions so that productions are open to all socioeconomic backgrounds.

Strategy #2: Increase participants' direct access to artists.

Stratgey #3: Partner with a nearby assisted living center.


Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR

How OSF used community connectors to develop culturally specific audiences.

Strategy #1: Collaborate with the Migrant Education Program of the Southern Oregon Education Service District to help populate the OSF’s Cultural Connection Education Exchange.

Strategy #2: Develop relevant culturally specific programming for CultureFest.

Strategy #3: Enlist individuals from specific ethnic groups and organizational community connections to encourage attendance by their constituents at CultureFest.


Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago, IL

How Steppenwolf engaged with talkbacks, Twitter, and teens to connect audiences to important conversations.

Strategy #1: Expand post-show opportunities for the public to interact with artists and other professionals around the theatre's sometimes controversial work.

Strategy #2: Support artistic work more effectively through multiple digital communication platforms.

Strategy #3: Work in partnership with other organizations to address critical teen-related issues.


The Theater Offensive, Boston, MA

How TTO used one-on-one connections, both on and offline to strengthen their community.

Strategy #1: Apply targeted phone banking using an audience-tracking and management database program.

Strategy #2: Use social media to engage and acquire young leaders and the next generation of audience members through TTO Treats, a social event.

Strategy #3: Implement gamification with social media networks to encourage audience members to share personal information.


Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington, DC

How Woolly's focus on connectivity and community partnership empowered civic discussion.

Strategy #1: Develop new social programs/initiatives in collaboration with community partners.

Strategy #2: Cultivate new audience members that mirror the current audience base and reach out to new audiences.

Strategy #3: Leverage group sales for partners.


Youth Speaks, San Francisco, CA

How Youth Speaks used digital platforms and community organizations to engage youth leaders .

Strategy #1: Develop enhanced digital platforms to redefine the way youth engage with Youth Speaks.

Strategy #2: Develop a community of organizations invested in spoken-word poetry as a means to engage youth.

Strategy #3: Engage and foster youth leaders.