Audience Building Innovation on Display at the Alliance Theatre

By Gevin Reynolds, Fellow, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation

 At the Audience Building Roundtable workshop on July 27, 2018, the Alliance Theatre presented the results of their Audience Building Innovation Grant, awarded by the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation to fund innovative audience building initiatives in their 48th, 49th, and 50thseasons. Below is a summary of their presentation.

How Theatrical Outfit Joined Forces with MARTA to Better Understand the Transportation Decisions of Atlanta Arts Patrons 

By Gevin Reynolds, Fellow, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation

 At the Audience Building Roundtable workshop on June 22, 2018, Theatrical Outfit presented the results of a study that they completed thanks to a grant from The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. The study was a partnership between Theatrical Outfit, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), the J. Walter Thompson agency, and six other arts organizations along the MARTA rail line.


By Gevin Reynolds, Fellow, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation

The Audience Building Roundtable (ABR) workshop on May 17, 2018 was “A Refresher on Audience Building Practices that Work” presented by TRG Arts, a national arts and culture consulting firm that has been presenting workshops to the ABR since the inaugural summit in November 2015. At the close of the workshop, 76 of the 103 attendees from ABR member organizations completed a survey with the following prompt: The workshop by TRG Arts provided me with at least one audience building idea that I can adapt for use in my organization.

Minor Website Changes Produce Big Gains 

By Rhonda Davis, Board Member, Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance (SEFAA)

The Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance (SEFAA) received a scholarship grant from The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation’s Audience Building Roundtable to attend the National Arts Marketing Project Conference on November 11-13, 2017. 

The opening keynote was “You, Your World, Your Future.” The speakers spoke about diverse cultures and how organizations need to gain understanding of different cultures in order to effectively market to diverse audiences. The main theme—in the keynote and throughout the remainder of this conference—was diversity and inclusion. 

My first session was “A/B Testing Your Way to Success.”

How do I get the most from a Google AdWords Grant? 

By Jessica Boatright & Kathleen Covington, Alliance Theatre

 “How do I get the most from a Google AdWords Grant?” 

This is an actual question I typed into Google (where else?) a couple of years ago. At the Alliance Theatre, we had applied for and received a Google Ad Grant, which meant we had up to $10,000 per month in “credit” toward Google AdWords campaigns that was ours to use. The problem was, we were hardly using it at all.

Variable Pricing - Increase Revenue While Capturing Data

By Stacey Lucas, Children’s Museum of Atlanta

The Challenge

Children’s Museum of Atlanta, like most organizations with the word “Museum” in their moniker, has a very long history of not collecting data from guests. In general, Museums have fostered a “walk-up” culture, sometimes collecting zip codes but rarely collecting full data sets of their guests. Without accurate data, patrons become a “moment in time” as opposed to a potential return guest, member, or donor. 

Marketing at the Speed of Culture

By Cammie Stephens, Michael O’Neal Singers

I was pleased and thankful to attend the National Arts Marketing Project Conference in Memphis, Tennessee in November 2017 through a generous grant from Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation’s Audience Building Roundtable (ABR). As Executive Director for The Michael O’Neal Singers(MOS), a 29-year-old choral music performance organization in north Atlanta, I am always seeking new strategies for attracting audiences to our programs.

Pull Audiences like the Duck March…. or “Market like a Cockroach”

By Darlene Hamilton, Assistant Director, Marketing & Communications, Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University

The Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University attended the 2017 National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) Conference at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee last November, thanks to the scholarship award we received from The Arthur Blank Family Foundation Audience Building Roundtable.

How to Market the Unknown…and other ways to “Tell our Story”

By Angela Harris, Executive Artistic Director, Dance Canvas

I attended the National Arts Marketing Project Conference in November 2017 on a scholarship provided by The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation’s Audience Building Roundtable initiative. I have attended the NAMP conference several times in the past, and it has always been one of my favorite opportunities to gauge arts marketing trends from across the country.

The National Arts Marketing Project Conference: What Grabbed Our Organization’s Attention (Other than the Marching Ducks)

By Hollie Rivers, Georgia Ensemble Theatre

So much grabbed my attention at the National Arts Marketing Conference in Memphis in November 2017, which I attended on a scholarship provided by The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation’s Audience Building Roundtable initiative.

First of all, MEMPHIS—what a city! This city was buzzing with arts and culture anywhere you looked: from the colorful mural-lined streets, marching Peabody Ducks, Beale Street blues, and barbeque EVERYWHERE.

Soul Food and Social Media Strategy

By Vanya Foote, Executive Director, Atlanta Chamber Players

In November of 2017, I attended the National Arts Marketing Project Conference in Memphis, TN, thanks to a grant from The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation’s Audience Building Roundtable. Memphis, with its history rich in music and art (and not to mention having some of the best soul food around) provided a beautiful backdrop to bring together colleagues to collaborate and discuss some of the toughest challenges that arts organizations face.

Drafting Your Fantasy Audience

By Kacie Willis, 7 Stages

In October 2017, I was sitting in a coffee shop with Sara Leonard during a consulting session that was provided through a grant from the Audience Building Roundtable of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. I was feeling pretty nervous about conceiving a marketing strategy for the production The Followers; A Retelling of the Bacchae due largely to the ambitious thematic nature of the show and perhaps my own preconceived notions about “the types of shows” that Atlanta audiences wanted to see.

Strategies that Succeed

By Sara R. Leonard, Founder and CEO, Sara Leonard Consulting

As any client of mine and any attendee of the February 2018 Audience Building Roundtable (ABR) meeting will attest, I always remind organizations I’m working with that there is no silver bullet in audience building. If there were, all of the brilliant and diligent nonprofit arts administrators I see would have found it and put it to use. There is no single strategy or tactic that will be successful for all organizations. Each has a different identity: different missions, different values, and – of course – different audiences. But it occurs to me that when we make the time to create really good audience development plans, we’re equipping ourselves about as well as we possibly can.

Aspiration over Desperation

by: Rebecca Danis, The Atlanta Opera

How is a brand significant in the lives of its users? Cynthia Round (former senior vice president of marketing for The Metropolitan Museum of Art) posited this question during her session – “Can We Make Our Cultural Institutions Irresistible?” – at the American Marketing Association Nonprofit Marketing Conference in Washington D.C. in July 2017. Thanks to a scholarship from the Audience Building Roundtable of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, I attended on behalf of The Atlanta Opera.

The National Black Arts Festival: Communicating with our Audience

By Vikki Morrow, President & CEO

In early 2016, faced with a declining audience base, the National Black Arts Festival (NBAF) looked to better understand who our audiences are, why they support us and how we are serving them.

Current Situation: Our 30th Anniversary

One of our challenges is a change in programming that NBAF implemented during the last several years, moving from a festival season to year-round programming...

Presenting Data in New Ways ... Mapping the Web Experience ... And other Audience Building Tales

By Kristie Swenk Benson, Director of Communications, High Museum of Art

On July 16, I landed in Washington, D.C. for my very first Nonprofit Marketing Conference. Being new to the nonprofit industry, I thought this conference would be a great entry point for me as the director of communications for the High Museum of Art.

Adjusting Course: Reframing for Better Results

By Liz Hartnett Santamaria, Aurora Theatre

For 22 seasons, Aurora Theatre has worked to be the theatre that reflects our community. We have been committed to diversity through our casting, storytelling, programming, and hiring. As much as our audience diversity has evolved in those years through specific, conscious choices, we still have work to do when it comes to our audiences.

Pleased to Meet You, I’m Your Neighbor

By Michael Van Osch, Georgia Ensemble Theatre

Although Georgia Ensemble Theatre (GET) is entering its 25th Anniversary Season in Roswell, we still run into people who have lived here for many years and have never heard of us. We have two major challenges that contribute to this: our home in The Roswell Cultural Arts Center is tucked away in the trees and is not on a main thoroughfare, and because we are in the Roswell Historic District, we are governed by a strict sign ordinance.

Customer File Analysis Leads to New Patron Campaign

By Tammy Moore, Marketing Manager, Spivey Hall at Clayton State University

Spivey Hall, located on the campus of Clayton State University, is a 400-seat, acoustically-superior performing arts venue that has presented the best in jazz and classical music to the metro Atlanta area since 1991. Its celebrated concert series receives regular national and international attention as one of America’s finest, and the Hall’s acoustics and design are routinely lauded by patrons, pundits and performers...

The “Stop Doing” Concept: Saying NO to Some Things so You Can Say YES to Other Things

By Nena Gilreath, Executive Artistic Director, Ballethnic Dance Company

For more than 27 years, Ballethnic Dance Company has celebrated multicultural diversity in dance, with a uniquely Atlanta style.  The Company, and its vibrant Ballethnic Dance Academy, has touched thousands of children, youth and adults throughout its history.  However, as the organization embraces its mission and looks ahead to its next phase, it is grappling with financial challenges.  These challenges resulted - in part - from saying “yes” to too many programming requests without stopping to evaluate the implications of each “yes” answer.

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