research
Jul29

By Brad Carlin, Consulting Analyst

If you are like me, your jaw tightens and stomach starts to twist when Halloween decorations begin to appear in stores in early September. If so, brace yourself… because now is likely the time to be putting single tickets on-sale for holiday blockbusters in your season. For ballet companies, July means the launch of Nutcracker sales and the semi-annual marathon that will can determine more than 50% of a company’s ticket revenue for the season. According to Dance/USA’s Nutcracker Survey, annual ticket sales to the Nutcracker have grown from $30 million in 2008 to $51 million in 2017, and attendance has increased 14% in the same period.

Posted July 29, 2019



Jul11

Northern Stage knew that in order to be sustainable long-term they needed to reimagine how they were relating to their patrons. TRG Arts’ Senior Consultant, Christina Hill, and Northern Stage’s Director of Communications and Sales, Amy Fawdington, demonstrated how Northern Stage has risen to the challenge.

Christina and Amy shared real-life examples and explored how to tap into audience behaviour to create loyalty. They described how Northern Stage developed strategies to incentivise and reward ticket purchase, membership, and donations, and how to build patron relationships to sustain and grow your organisation.


Posted July 11, 2019



Jun11

By Lindsay Anderson, VP of Client Development
TRG Arts

Imagine walking down the street and only thinking about each next step in front of you without even looking up or looking around. You continue this pattern without any sense of where you were coming from and where you’d like to go. As you take each step, you just hope that by continuing this pattern you will eventually get to where you want to go. Sounds ridiculous, right? It is - but all too often, venues and producers repeat this exact same behavior when it comes to building loyal audiences. They focus too much on the income chase and bums in seats for each individual show rather than building a long-lasting relationship with the audiences who attend. This is as much in the interest of producers as venues: would you want to tour to a venue with a large, loyal core audience or to a venue that needs to spend more money to generate a new audience for every show?


Posted June 11, 2019



May14

By 
Eric Nelson

Sustainability is no longer enough. Performing arts organizations need to aim higher. Vitality is the new goal. To achieve this, organizations must apply a generous mix of courage, grit and entrepreneurship to a key area of their business: audience building. It requires that board and executive leadership create a culture where this focus and work-style thrives. 

Posted May 14, 2019



Apr24

Results of the 2018 TRG Arts Field Survey


In parallel with the Loyalty as a Linchpin video series and subsequent book club conversation, TRG Arts administered a survey in the final months of 2018 to 1,709 arts and culture leaders seeking to understand the field’s current utilization of the Net Promoter System.


Posted April 24, 2019



Apr23

By Jill Robinson, President & CEO

We all watched last week as the Notre Dame cathedral burned. Like so many, I was glued to Twitter throughout my day, checking in for status updates, and found myself intrigued by a thread about “The Long Now”—a concept that someone on Twitter described to me as “planning with a time horizon of centuries …which implies sustainability…”. I found www.longnow.org and my mind was blown: this organization talks in terms of 10,000-year planning horizons. Indeed, Notre Dame was designed to last for centuries. And, it will.


Posted April 23, 2019



Apr04

The Future of Leadership in the Arts

Opera America Leadership Intensive


Eric Nelson

Client Engagement Officer

Download the slides from Eric's session at the at Opera America’s Leadership Intensive 'The Future of Leadership in the Arts'.


Posted April 4, 2019



Mar28

By: Jim DeGood, Director of Client Services

Data Analysis: Nariman Tulepkaliev, Data Analyst

As a follow up to Millennials Are Not the Answer to Your Revenue Problems blog post, the TRG Arts 2019 Generational Analysis provides an in depth view of North American demographic shifts that are occurring now or will occur in the near future.

Through data analysis, TRG Arts continues to see a link between life stage and arts consumption – arts patronage tends to occur from mid-life onwards, as careers and household earning stabilize, with the majority of arts and cultural patronage still comprised of Silents and Boomers. But the reality is that these audiences are diminishing


Posted March 28, 2019



Feb26

How State Theatre New Jersey Utilized Membership and Subscription to Grow Audiences and Revenue.


By 
J.L. Nave, Senior Consultant

Seizing on an opportunity, State Theatre New Jersey built a long-term plan rooted in membership and subscription in order to build patron loyalty for their Broadway series.



Posted February 26, 2019



Jan29

By David Brownlee, Director of International Strategy

TRG Arts collates and analyses the sales figures for the UK Theatre Association whose members include most medium and large venues outside of London.

We’ve just completed the 
initial analysis for the whole of 2018 which, in the context of a tough year for retail and future uncertainty over Brexit, generally looks positive and was record-breaking for the largest presenting houses.


Posted January 29, 2019



Jan23

How Omaha Performing Arts capitalized on the extraordinary and explosive opportunities around blockbusters.


By Keri Mesropov, Vice President of Client Services

In the world of Broadway, The Hamilton Effect is synonymous with a massive surge of sales a presenter experiences in the year it presents the industry’s most exceptional blockbuster and the desire to replicate it again in the future. The problem is that it is atypical, focused solely on short-term revenue gain, and centers attention around the production itself. To be clear, The Hamilton Effect does not center around the people who come see it.


Posted January 23, 2019



Jan23

Engaging communities. Developing audiences. The arts field of today must be intentional about these practices. At TRG Arts, we’re honored to work with several clients who are making measurable headway engaging new communities, while also keeping a steady eye on the ticketing and fundraising goals that keep their doors open. 

Posted January 23, 2019



Nov13

By Jim DeGood, Director of Client Services
TRG Arts

I had the pleasure of working with a client earlier this autumn that gets so many things right. They use data to make decisions and regularly engage in passionate discussions around what data may or may not indicate. They are highly segmented and customized in their approach to building the loyalty of their patrons across every dimension of their organization. 


Posted November 13, 2018



Oct05

Dan Bates
Chief Executive, Sheffield Theatres

"Having the chance to have three months away from major work responsibilities is an exciting and daunting project.”

 

When I discussed this with my board at the theater more than a year ago, we talked about the purpose of the sabbatical, what I might learn, and what I would bring back to Sheffield Theatres. As the start of the sabbatical came closer and I began the real preparation for being away, I also became focused on preparing our staff team to thrive while I was gone.


Posted October 5, 2018



Oct05

David Seals
Director of Client Development

Every person on your team is growing daily in one of two directions: adding to or detracting from the work. As the chief executive, it’s illuminating to ask yourself two honest questions:

1. Visualize your star performer, the one you can count on when it matters. What characteristics define them? What affect do they have on the organization? On the people around them?

2. Visualize your lowest performing employee. What characteristics define them? What affect do they have on the organization? On the people around them?


Posted October 5, 2018



Aug14

On August 29, Data Center 2.0 will launch. Based on feedback from superusers during beta testing, here are our top three favorite new features: 

  1. A New Interactive Dashboard: snapshots of your patron data that allows you to quickly manage your campaigns and organizational health.
  2. New Campaigns Module: a better organizational structure to easily monitor all your marketing and fundraising campaigns in one place, with statistics about each list.
  3. New Interface: a modern design with improved navigation and an intuitive user experience, that is now mobile-friendly!    
Over the years, Data Center has helped organizations like New York City Ballet, Delaware Theatre Company, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra attain their marketing and fundraising goals. 

Posted August 14, 2018



Aug01

TRG Arts delivered a briefing at the Arts Marketing Association Conference 2018, UK, about 'TRG Arts on the Impact of Loyalty: Success stories of growth through retention and engagement'.


Posted August 1, 2018



Jul31

TRG Arts and Theatr Clwyd spoke at the Arts Marketing Association Conference 2018, UK, about the work Theatr Clwyd have done to more deeply engage their patrons in order to sustain the organisation for the long-term.   

 


Posted July 31, 2018



Jul13

By Stephen Skrypec, Consulting Analyst

In recent weeks, there has been passionate online discussion around whether rising average ticket prices were having an impact on attendance. Frequently, in our work with clients we find that when it comes to pricing, people have opinions or viewpoints that come from personal experience. As always, we recommend taking a hard look at the data to see what’s happening in your organisation. Don’t be distracted by ticket prices alone - there are other key metrics that might be hiding the real story.


Posted July 13, 2018



Jan22

Jill Robinson
President & CEO

At the close of 2017, the National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) published a report The Burden of Rising Expenses: The Bottom Line in the Arts. 

The report looked at financial data of over 4,800 US arts organizations between 2013 and 2016, and raised the question "Are organizations bringing in enough revenue to cover their expenses?"

Jill's latest essay examines the findings alongside what we see in our work at TRG Arts: sustainability continues to be hard work for arts and cultural organizations. 


Posted January 22, 2018



Dec22

This blog post was originally posted on the PatronManager Blog on December 19.2017. Many thanks to Gene Carr, CEO PatronManager for the invitation to contribute. 

Few people are talking about the arts industry’s biggest threat. The problem barely shows up in conference sessions, industry publications or workshops. It is not cuts to arts funding. It’s not greying audiences or Millennials. It’s not a lack of data. Though these issues deserve attention, the problem is patron retention—and its extent is staggering.


Posted December 22, 2017



Nov29

 
 Kate Hagen
Senior Consultant, TRG Arts 

The Grant Park Music Festival came to TRG in 2014 with one goal: to build a patron loyalty pipeline that will sustain the organization, regardless of fluctuations in government or foundation funding. But there was one catch. The strategy needed to fit within the mission on which the organization was founded in the 1930s: free access to classical music for all.

To solve this challenge, the Festival expanded its existing membership program to include One Night Pass options. Though Chicagoans and visitors could always attend for free, membership offered many benefits including the ability to reserve seats close to the stage for any performance in advance. The introduction of One Night Passes allowed non-members to reserve seats in the Frank Gehry-designed pavilion for individual concerts, effectively serving as a test-drive for membership. In addition, the passes enabled the Festival to overcome one of the biggest challenges faced by free festivals: capturing patron data to build a pool of contacts who could be cultivated for membership and donations. The end result is a festival that remains free while creating a new patron-driven revenue stream to address potential funding fluctuations. 


Posted November 29, 2017



Nov15


Have arts leaders increased the loyalty of their patron in recent years? TRG Arts is the longest-standing aggregator of loyalty metrics in the arts industry and has recently refreshed its aggregated Patron Loyalty Index. In this presentation, we'll describe the ways patrons are behaving in terms of their recency, frequency, monetary investment and growth over time, across transactions in single tickets, membership, subscription, and donation.

Posted November 15, 2017



Nov15


What happens when communities come together around data? As membership leaders consider how to best attract new visitors and members, information on how the wider community engages with arts and cultural organizations becomes particularly relevant. Learn how leaders in the membership field leverage shared data to find the highest-ROI prospects an how trading patron data makes the entire arts ecosystem stronger. Presented originally at the 2017 American Museum Membership Conference, join experts from Jazz at Lincoln Center, MOHAI, and TRG Arts to discuss and discover the power of community data. 

Posted November 15, 2017



Jun16

You’ve got a CRM system. You’ve got reports galore. But how can you use data to affect change at your theatre? DataArts has partnered with field experts to create a new series of free online courses teaching essential data skills for arts leaders. In this session, TRG Arts will present a brief preview from Connecting the Dots: Audience Data Essentials, a course they co-created with DataArts. Attendees will leave the session with 4 basic metrics to track at their own theatre, plus ideas about how these courses can serve as a valuable resource for their own learning, or as a professional development tool for their staff. 

Posted June 16, 2017



Jun16

One of the biggest challenges for theatre leaders lies in perfecting the balance between commercially popular and artistically ambitious plays. In 2014, Kansas City Repertory Theatre was at a crossroads with programming choices, finding it difficult to grow new audiences and cultivate their current loyal supporters. The artistic and executive director decided to do something quite radical: quantify the impact of programming on audience development. Some of the questions they asked were: Which genres grow new audiences? Which deepen current loyalty? Which plays encourage and discourage repeat attendance? Does venue impact audience behavior? How are factors like per-ticket spend impacted?  Learn what the data said about different artistic genres and the types of audiences it attracted, how KC Rep used the data as inspiration for their new Creative Future Fund, and the results they’ve seen in the following three years in audience and revenue numbers.


Posted June 16, 2017



Apr13

Arts Club Theatre Company puts data to work


Thanks to advances in CRM technology, arts organizations now live in a world awash with data. Getting data points is not usually the hard part. What’s difficult is taking action on what the data tells us and making changes to strategy to cause metrics to move up or down. That’s what makes Arts Club Theatre Company’s most recent success story so impressive.

This Vancouver-based theatre company has been a TRG client since 2008. In the first two years, Arts Club saw $3 million in earned revenue growth. Since then, Arts Club’s focus on building patron loyalty resulted in a further 30% increase in single ticket and subscription revenue. 


Posted April 13, 2017



Mar22

David Brownlee of TRG Arts at the 2017 UK Theatre Touring SymposiumTRG's David Brownlee presents new data on touring productions at the UK Theatre Touring Symposium on March 23, 2017. David's research illuminates trends in ticket income from touring and non-touring productions over several years. 

One major takeaway of the study was that touring productions account for the majority of tickets sold and income across UK Theatre venues. The overall figure is driven by the performance of musicals at the largest venues, but the majority of revenues for plays in the UK now also come from touring productions.


Posted March 22, 2017



Sep13

This post is cross-posted on the National Center for Arts Research blog.

 Jill Robinson, 
President & CEO, TRG Arts

 “How do we stack up?”

Everyone is curious about how their arts organization compares with others like them. There’s really not been a good place to find that information, though.

Until now.

Recently, our partners at the National Center for Arts Research launched the NCAR Dashboard. It uses data from DataArts (formerly the Cultural Data Project) to explore how organizations from a variety of sizes and artistic disciplines perform on a variety of standardized financial and operational indicators, called KIPI’s. Even better, it allows you to compare your organization to others in its own size category and artistic genre.


Posted September 13, 2016



Sep06

Ask any married couple, and they will say that a lasting relationship takes work. The same is true when courting potential members of your organization! Find out what moves you should make to attract potential members, and hear about some innovative methods your peers have used to build their membership base. You'll leave this 15-minute on-demand webinar with actionable tips to attract and retain more members than you thought possible!

TRG Arts is collaborating with Blackbaud Arts and Cultural Group to bring you valuable tips and strategies with our new on-demand webinar series: Ignite. Watch the first video by clicking through.


Posted September 6, 2016



Aug17

Developing arts patrons as a community

September 21 at 1 ET/10 PT



Is there too much theatre for patrons in D.C. to
support? That was one of the questions that
launched this study. Find out the answer in this webinar.
Seven theatres. 10 seasons of data. One community. Learn what this study reveals about theatre patrons and their buying and giving habits. The importance of audience development and retention shines through, in light of data analysis on how Washington, D.C. theatres are attracting and holding on to patrons. Zoom in on trends in patronage in this community, including new theatre-goers and patrons who attend multiple theatres. Learn about the clusters of patrons in this community 
who look demographically or transactionally similar. Unlock the secrets of audience behavior that may point to trends in your own community. 

Posted August 17, 2016



Jun23

Seven theatres. 10 seasons of data. One community. Learn what this study reveals about theatre patrons in one community and their buying and giving habits. The importance of audience development and retention shines through, in light of data analysis on how Washington, D.C. theatres are attracting and holding on to patrons. Zoom in on trends in patronage in this community, including new theatre-goers and patrons who attend multiple theatres. Learn about the clusters of patrons in this community who look demographically or transactionally similar. Unlock the secrets of audience behavior that may point to trends in your own community.

This presentation was given at the 2016 Theatre Communication Group Conference in Washington, D.C. by TRG's President & CEO Jill Robinson and leaders from Shakespeare Theatre Company and Arena Stage.

This session presents: 

  • The benefits of a community wide market research campaign
  • The actions this community is taking as a result of the research findings
  • The role of audience development initiatives in strengthening loyalty and attendance patterns

Posted June 23, 2016



Jun21

Jill Robinson at the 2016 League of American Orchestras conferenceA patron’s loyalty is built step-by-step with each interaction with your organization. Each purchase and each donation is an indicator of the affinity that patrons feel for the organization. The problem in the evolution of patrons often occurs in the hand-off between marketing and development.

In this session, presented in 2016 at the League of American Orchestras Conference, Jill Robinson and Lindsay Anderson discussed patron segmentation strategies and proven practices for closing the gap between subscribers and donors.


Posted June 21, 2016



Jun08

Ben Cameron and other industry experts to explore artistic planning in this can't-miss workshop


Ben Cameron of the Jerome Foundation

The artistic director’s vision: a season of artistically brilliant works which engages the community.

The executive director’s vision: a season of “hot tickets” which sell out and help the organization’s financial position.

Who’s right? Both objectives have merit. Can they co-exist? Learn what the data says in TRG’s artistic programming workshop this fall. Hosted by President & CEO Jill Robinson, this online workshop will explore data-driven artistic planning, present case study results, and provide participants with take-home tools that will help organizations evaluate their own circumstances and take next steps.


Posted June 8, 2016



Feb02


Anita Hansen
Senior Consultant

From Service to Entrepreneurialism


With online transactions now accounting for the majority of ticket purchases, what’s the role of the traditional box office? The people who interact with patrons at your organization still have an enormous role to play in providing customer service, generating revenue, and increasing loyalty. Are you setting them up for success? This short presentation discussed making an upgrade plan, incentivizing staff to implement it, and measuring your success. In this session, learn strategies to turn your box office into an entrepreneurial, revenue-generating operation within your organization. This presentation was given by Senior Consultant Anita Hansen at the 2016 InTix Conference in Anaheim, California.

Posted February 2, 2016



Jan11


Lindsay Anderson
VP of Client Development
Think audience development is marketing’s job? Think again. All departments play a critical role in retaining and cultivating patron relationships. In order to make a patron-centered business model work, all departments—including ticketing and patron services, artistic staff, development, and executive leaders—must align their objectives with that of patron loyalty. 

In this session, presented at the 2016 Chamber Music America conference in New York City, both executives and staff members will reexamine how they lead and collaborate on initiatives that create lasting patron relationships. TRG's VP of Client Development Lindsay Anderson looked at how cross-departmental campaigns build loyalty, how a sales orientation in the patron services department can bolster marketing-development collaboration, and how artistic programming can also factor into loyalty-building.

Posted January 11, 2016



Jan08


Lindsay Anderson
VP of Client Development
What motivates someone to attend a concert? And, more, importantly, what drives them to attend again and again? Arts managers (and patrons themselves) often cite price as the main and biggest incentive for arts attendance. Certainly price plays a major role in a customer’s decision-making process. 

But pricing doesn’t mean anything unless it’s attached to value. It’s a two-sided equation, with price on one side and demand—how much a patron wants the experience—on the other.

Luckily, you have tools that can sweeten the value proposition for your audiences. Ticketing inventory, historical data, discounting, and the choice and timing of programming can help you incentivize audiences to engage with you again and again.


Posted January 8, 2016



Oct08

This guest post by Zannie Voss of the National Center for Arts Research is cross-posted to the NCAR blog.

There is a conversation growing nationally around data-informed decision-making in arts and cultural organizations. The National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) stands firmly in the belief that using data to inform managerial decisions is a critical factor in the sustainability and transformation of the arts and cultural field as a whole. It isn’t about data for the sake of data, it’s about the end-goal of healthier organizations that have stable and expanded resources to dedicate to pursuit of mission. TRG, one of NCAR’s partners, has been a leading advocate for this type of analysis for many years and the organizations TRG serves have benefitted as a result.

There is no “one size fits all” performance measure. Instead, metrics for organizational health are as varied as the field itself. So this begs the question: What are the metrics that matter?


Posted October 8, 2015



Sep24

 Jill Robinson, 
President & CEO, TRG Arts

The National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) at Southern Methodist University recently released their latest report, which focuses specifically on marketing related metrics. This is the third report NCAR has released examining the health of arts and cultural organizations in the U.S. from a wide range of data sources.

Recently, I’ve seen researchers beginning to measure the impact of developing patron relationships and focus on the data that will quantify relationships. This is a great sign of things to come for the arts industry. In our own research at TRG, we’ve seen that measuring relationships in an integrated and holistic way can help organizations better understand patrons and impact revenue. Transactions that may seem unrelated when measured by different departments can actually indicate loyal relationships. The whole picture matters in each individual patron record, as it does when measuring the impact of patron-generated revenue across an organization.


Posted September 24, 2015



May13

Loyalty, Collaboration, and Community in Philadelphia

Wednesday, May 13 at 2 EDT/11 PDT


You may know the buying and donating patterns of your own audience. But do you know how they engage with the other arts organizations in your community? And does that mean you’re in competition with them or have opportunities to collaborate?

Seventeen arts and cultural institutions in the Philadelphia area set out to find the answers to those very questions. The study they commissioned investigated the buying and donating behavior of nearly 1 million arts audience and visitor households over seven years, with interesting findings about community engagement and audience loyalty. Researchers profiled how loyal patrons were to each individual organization and tracked patterns of loyalty across the community.

Click through to read more and view the video.


Posted May 13, 2015



May05

Photo by opensource.com (CC BY 2.0)

At the beginning of this year, the NEA came out with a report on why people attend the arts. This study struck a chord with me, because it momentarily put aside the question of whether arts attendance is growing or shrinking and instead focuses on why people actually come to the arts in the first place. The study found that 83% of arts participants value “being devoted and loyal.” This aligns with TRG’s own research, which suggests that it’s no longer enough to know whether you're hitting attendance goals. The question has evolved from "Are audiences growing?" to "Are audiences growing more loyal?"

The NEA report suggests some ways to overcome barriers to arts participation, among them community engagement. Decision makers and funders in our field seem to be thinking more in recent years about what makes an arts community healthy, and how to measure engagement across communities.

We recently did a study with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance which studied how audiences interact with different arts organizations across a community. (Full study here.) Spanning 7 years and studying nearly 1 million arts audience households from 17 arts and cultural institutions, this study looked in-depth at loyalty within organizations and engagement across the community.


Posted May 5, 2015



Jan22

New research reveals key data for developing museum and performing arts audiences

Produced by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance with support from TRG Arts

 

2014 Patron Loyalty Study: Loyalty By the NumbersThe 2014 Patron Loyalty Study: Loyalty By the Numbers examines the financial transactions (including ticket sales, memberships and donations) of almost a million Greater Philadelphia households, using seven years of data from 17 major cultural attractions in the region. One of the key findings of the report is that, despite the sector’s focus on developing new audiences, the erosion of current audience loyalty represents one of the most significant financial risks for cultural groups. 

The study found that less than 3% of patrons generated over 62% of total patron revenue. However, spending by this small but powerful group of patrons declined 12% throughout the study, driven by a decline in primarily donor activity/revenue.

“While expanding audiences remains critical for the long term,” said Cultural Alliance Vice President John McInerney, “Retention and engagement of current audiences may be the most important strategy for an organization’s bottom line.”


Posted January 22, 2015



Dec10


Image by r2hox via flickr
under CC BY-SA 2.0

A recent post by Createquity has raised great questions in response to the report published last year by the Cultural Data Project. Chief among them: “What would consistently effective use of data for decision-making at the organizational and system-wide level look like in practice?” Picked up by You’ve Cott Mail, the question became, “Are we ready to declare a crisis around data collection and use in the arts?”

As one of the largest collectors of arts patron data in the U.S., we’re seeing more clients wrestle with just these sorts of questions. The answers are complex, nuanced, and often unique to the organization or agency asking them.

The CDP’s President and CEO Beth Tuttle has begun exploring the idea of “decision-driven data collection.” This concept serves as a necessary counterpoint to a big data world where we’re encouraged to collect every data point and see what story emerges.


Posted December 10, 2014



Jan21

Photo via flickr
This article is cross-posted on artsmarketing.org.
Declarations of 2012 as the year of Big Data bring to 2013 a renewed—and well-deserved--focus on analytics and making data-driven decisions. Your organization’s database is the key to the hearts, minds, and wallets of your most fervent supporters—your patrons.  Patrons, in other words, are your biggest asset.

Of all the numbers you can pull from your database, which matter most? Two decades of arts consumer study is clear. The metrics surrounding loyalty—keeping patrons coming back and increasing their investment—are the ones that really count when it comes to building a sustainable audience (and revenue) base.

Whether your organization is large or small, performing or visual, subscription or member-oriented, here’s four resolutions to make regarding your data in the year ahead:

Posted January 21, 2013



Oct05

This week, the TRG team is contributing to the Arts Marketing Blog Salon on Americans for the Arts' ARTSblog. This article by Will was originally posted as part of the salon, which previews the National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) Conference in November. 
Photo by Brian Mitchell via flickr
In the digital age, many marketers are fond of pronouncing the death of direct mail.  Yet the data is clear--the environment has changed, new techniques have emerged and smarter approaches to direct mail are getting superior results than in days gone by.

Why? It comes down to increased trust, better targeting, and integration with online channels.

Trust

The contents of the typical American mailbox have changed dramatically in the last few years. Online bill pay options, increased digital and social marketing and the spiraling costs of postage (6 price hikes in 6 years, but who’s counting?) are some of the reasons why overall mail volume has dropped by almost 20% since 2006. These changes correspond to exponential increase in the daily volume of our email inboxes. Recent research shows that many consumers prefer and trust mail more.  Epsilon’s 2011 Channel Preference Study showed:

•    75% of consumers say they get more email than they can read
•    50% of consumers prefer direct mail to email
•    26% of all U.S. consumers said they found direct mail to be the most “trustworthy” medium, an increase from prior studies, which even includes the 18-34 year old demographic.

Posted October 5, 2012



Mar12

In 2012, TRG bloggers are taking a fresh look at data and trends that inform risks worth taking, best practices worth hanging onto, and assumptions worth challenging – each in time for action to be taken.
The operative word in the title question is: think, as in assume.  The more TRG studies patron behavior, the more we realize how often and how much even the smartest managers make wrong assumptions about the patrons who are visiting their exhibits or sitting in the seats of their theatres, concert halls and arenas.

Take the question: Who in attendance at an arts event has been here before?  A 2011 TRG patron origination study told us: only about half. We say “only” because the prevailing conventional wisdom was that most patrons75% or moreare repeat ticket buyers, subscribers, or members.   In fact there are so many new patrons in America’s audiences that the study’s author, TRG Vice President Will Lester dubbed it, Every Night is Opening Night.  

Posted March 12, 2012



Feb13

In 2012, TRG bloggers are taking a fresh look at data and trends that inform risks worth taking, best practices worth hanging onto, and assumptions worth challenging – each in time for action to be taken.
Competition for patron’s dollars is a subject that’s back in the industry dialog again, sometimes with negative overtones. Can we really still think that sharing a marketplace with other successful arts and entertainment organizations is a bad thing? Even with foundations willing to invest in collaborations? I find that disturbing, especially in view of the opportunities being mined daily by members of community collaborations nationwide.

Posted February 13, 2012



Nov17

In this presentation from the 2011 NAMP Conference, Will Lester demonstrates why every night is opening night is for someone. Learn who's coming to your arts events--it's not necessary who you'd think. This was presented at the Lightning Rounds of Research.

Posted November 17, 2011



Oct07

One of the prompt questions for this blog salon was “What research is affecting your marketing and fundraising strategies?” TRG’s research on arts patrons by generation has really given me perspective on where the arts are today and what we need to plan for long-term. Right now—even amidst the recession, organizational bankruptcies and funding pullbacks, today may be the “good old days” for arts marketing.

There are four generations of arts buyers in the market right now. Each cohort is born roughly between these dates:
  • Traditionalists, born before 1945
  • Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964
  • Generation X, born between 1964 and 1981
  • Generation Y, born between 1982 and 1995

Posted October 7, 2011



Oct04

theatre
Photo: Fernando de Sousa via Flickr
How well do you know your audiences…really? Before the curtain goes up you can undoubtedly pick out that valued donor or long-time subscriber in your audience. Or, at every exhibition opening, you probably know the faces and names of the most important and dedicated members attending. But who are all the rest of the people coming through your doors? Are the majority of people who have been to your organization before, or are they new? And are they new to the arts or just new to you?

The team at TRG Arts was curious about this too. What we found is that, in a given season, about 50% of the people coming to your arts events are people you have seen before. The other 50% are new to the organization, although maybe not to the arts. Subscribers, members and other regular attendees actually only comprise about 37% of the typical database. Another 14% are “reactivated” patrons—patrons who have some sort of buying history, but haven’t bought in the last two years.

Posted October 4, 2011



Apr12

Opening nights are fun. They also are hard work. Months of planning result in huge organizational resources being focused on the celebrations that mark the beginning of a new season or production. These are important rituals of organizational renewal. 

The latest research from TRG puts a patron-oriented spin on this subject. It’s telling us that opening night is happening all year long for big numbers of patrons in the audience. How so? Our just-completed internal pilot research on patron origination found: 

Half of the study group’s ticket buyers had a first-time ticket-buying experience – their own personal opening night – during the season.  

Posted April 12, 2011



Mar15

This is a key question that I suspect managers of performing arts organizations across North America are not asking right now as they watch the results of their subscription renewal campaigns. 

They should be. 

According to TRG’s analysis, the closer renewal rates get to 100%, the less healthy the organization is likely to be. We’ve seen the proof in both direct marketing and patron behavior metrics. 

First, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) estimates that changes of address occur in about 15% of households every year. TRG’s national data set suggests that arts patrons change address even more frequently – about 18% each year; or 1½% every month. Databases of arts patrons trend a bit older than the general population and carry higher levels of health-related relocation as well as mortality rates. Any organization that is renewing more than about 85% of their current subscriber base is bumping up against the theoretical maximum for an addressable pool of patrons.  

Posted March 15, 2011



Mar01

Both houses of Congress are back in session and their work on budget resolutions will determine whether and how much federal funding will go to important American arts institutions, including the National Endowment for the Arts, PBS, and National Public Radio. At the state level, arts agencies are up against a rapidly devolving scenario of proposed measures that would radically restructure or eliminate them. All of us who care deeply about sustaining arts and culture in America are looking for the best ways and means of advocating for government support. The need for ever-better practices will not end with the current threat of cuts or this round of budget debate. Making the case for public funding for the arts has become an ongoing imperative. 

In late January, I attended the Biennial Conference of The Broadway League, the trade organization that represents the interests of those engaged in the business of theatre. The primary topic for this Washington, DC conference was advocacy. The immediate League goal was to meet with the very members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives who now are determining the fate of funding for America’s arts and culture.  

Posted March 1, 2011



Feb14

As I was reviewing data for this post, two significant contributions to the national dialogue on arts and culture sparked a lot of online discussion. The publication of the National Arts Index by Americans for the Arts and comments made by NEA chairman Rocco Landesman raised compelling questions about the nature of supply of and demand for arts organizations, arts venues, and forms of expression. The consumer trends we see in transaction data offer additional perspective to consider on the demand side of this ongoing conversation, which is provocative and timely. We hope it will continue. 

When I was a new young marketing director, my boss at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra began my orientation with a number of helpful observations about the new job and the field I was about to enter. One key ‘fact’ really pulled me up short. The target market for a symphony orchestra, Managing Director Steve Monder stated, was very different than my prior experiences as a marketer in the theme park industry. Supporters of the typical symphony orchestra accounted for no more than 2% to 3% of the population in any community. To succeed as a new marketing director, I would have to quickly learn an entirely new skill set. I would have to efficiently find a very small target market.  

Posted February 14, 2011



Jan31

Last year I added a new quip to my repertoire of answers for use during the inevitable Q&A sessions during conference season. At virtually every gathering, someone would ask about possible solutions to the increased numbers of single ticket buyers making purchase decisions later and later in the sales cycle. America’s recent economic downturn, it seems, was making this worrisome long term trend even more problematic.

I’ve heard this complaint for more than three decades. It was never supported by data or quantified over time. So, my quip seems equally unhinged from reality: If late-buying keeps increasing then any day now we’ll have patrons buying their tickets a month after the performance takes place.

An opportunity for TRG to explore the issue of late ticket-buying presented itself recently. The source data came from Southern California’s LA STAGE Arts Census. Specifically, we examined single ticket purchase patterns for more than 1.5 million households, about half of the total LA data warehouse. We were specifically looking for changes in the time between purchase date and date of performance. Our study period was 2006 through 2010.

Posted January 31, 2011



Jun15

A couple of weeks ago, TRG Arts unveiled the latest addition to our Data Lab arsenal of analytics tools.Designed to be a quick aid for arts administrators (both marketers and development officers), TRG’s new “Key Metrics” report provides a powerful summary of several data points that our consultants observe are good indicators of organizational health, namely new-to-file patronage, patronage loss (attrition), and multi-buying patronage. By leveraging our national data source in an automated analytical process, Key Metrics provides individual organizations with a low-cost snapshot of their situation alongside a baseline of national data from which to compare “what is normal” among arts organizations.

To provide the industry baseline, Data Lab selected 113 clients for what we called the “analysis group”. These are organizations from each major performing arts discipline: dance, orchestra, opera and theatre. They each have patron data that is extensive, deep in history, and unusually clean. Together, 113 organizations provided 5.3 million patron households for the study’s analysis group. To execute the analysis, we compiled all household transactions into a single aggregated database that was normalized for individual organization data collection, storage and segmentation quirks. We then looked for patterns of patron behavior that can be measured by purchases or donor transactions.

Posted June 15, 2010



May12

For the past decade, TRG has partnered with arts and culture communities to develop and manage shared patron data services.These community databases, often called cooperatives or coops for short, are typically built to help organizations save money through shared services. Coops also develop new patronage and revenues using smarter and more efficient communication tools.This new generation of community databases has become America’s largest single repository of information about arts and culture consumers and their behavior. Savvy arts leaders across the country are learning new ways to use coops as a resource to advance the arts agenda in their communities. Specifically, they want to match arts consumers with voter registration files. Why? Facts win cases when advocating before public officials and voters. In this post, we offer our thoughts to the current online dialog on advocacy nationwide, including on the Americans for the Arts blog and its green paper, The Future of the Public Voice in Arts Advocacy.

The mid-term elections in the U.S. are only six months away, but already forces of all sorts are lining up to make the case for the candidates they want – or, this year especially, don’t want. Points of view on must-win issues at the federal, state and local level vary wildly among Democrats, the GOP, Tea Party, incumbents and those positioning themselves as government “outsiders” Making a case that will win over politicians and voters is a lot like direct marketing success. It requires putting the right message in front of the right person at the right time.

Posted May 12, 2010



Sep21

A patron behavior study for the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, published as part of the Engage 2020 Research Into Action Report in September 2009.

Posted September 21, 2009



Jan21

2008 Arts Industry Holiday Performance Report, results of a first-time tracking poll that surveyed arts and cultural organizations about their 2008 holiday performance and event revenues, produced with Patron Technology by TRG Arts, January 21, 2009.

Posted January 21, 2009



Oct23

Los Angeles Market Segmentation Study, an arts and culture consumer profile prepared by TRG for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, October 2008.

Posted October 23, 2008



Jun13

Philadelphia Opera Market Patron Research and Study, a synopsis of findings from the patron behavior and attitudinal study of audiences for seven opera companies, commissioned by Opera America and produced by TRG with Shugoll Research, June 10, 2008.

Posted June 13, 2008



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