New Year, New Audience?
January 13, 2020 In: Sound Bits
In recent weeks, an article by Aubrey Bergauer has been circulating on Facebook. Titled “The Orchestra Myth: And What We Can Learn From Nordstrom,” the article highlights the value of nurturing existing audiences in addition to developing new audiences. Bergauer highlights that the challenge for orchestras is not attracting new audiences, but rather retaining audiences after they attend their first performance: “The problem is that nationwide, somewhere around 90% of first-time attendees never come back again, a widely reported statistic in our field first made famous by the former head of marketing at the Kennedy Center Jack McAuliffe.”
In the article, Bergauer details her work and audience-development initiatives at the California Symphony. Strategies including offering cash vouchers instead of discounts, developing marketing materials that reference past experiences, simplifying the purchasing process, and making offers immediately redeemable, have enabled the California Symphony to increase their first-time concert attendee retention from 13% in FY14 to 28% in FY18.
The article provides a wonderful opportunity for self-reflection. What percentage of your time is spent cultivating new audience members vs. nurturing relationships with current audience members? What strategies employed by the California Symphony are scalable to a chamber ensemble? What other initiatives, in addition to the ones outlined in the article, should the California Symphony utilize to develop audiences? How do we create a symbiotic relationship between the artistic-aesthetic experience of attending a performance and the business of creating financially sustainable arts organizations?
Read the whole article HERE.