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Nine Effective Practices

for Building Audiences for the Arts

The nine steps below were identified by the Wallace Foundation as habits shared by successful arts organizations. Together, they form a powerful road map for building and sustaining audiences. We've paired each best practice with a relevant CMA activity to illustrate how these straightforward strategies can be utilized by even the smallest operations. Read the full report at www.wallacefoundation.org.

 

1
RECOGNIZE WHEN CHANGE IS NEEDED

Respond to audience challenges and opportunities that matter to your organization’s future.

San Francisco Girls ChorusRead how San Francisco Girls Chorus did it

2
IDENTIFY THE TARGET AUDIENCE THAT FITS

Focus on a group receptive to your art form and organization, and that leaders agree makes sense to pursue.

Flushing Town Hall LogoHear how Flushing Town Hall did it

3
WHAT BARRIERS NEED TO BE REMOVED?

Are the obstacles between you and the target group practical matters (pricing, perceptions) or the audience experience itself?

Art of ÉlanRead how Art
of Élan did it

 

4
TAKE OUT THE
GUESSWORK

Use audience research to understand the target group’s views on your organization and art form.

San Francisco PerformancesRead how San Francisco Performances did it

5
THINK THROUGH
THE RELATIONSHIP

Develop a vision for how the target audience will interact with your organization.

PRIZM EnsembleRead how
PRIZM Ensemble
did it

6
PROVIDE MULTIPLE
WAYS IN

Offer a variety of engaging experiences to introduce the target audience to your organization and art form.

NJPAC LogoHear how
NJPAC
did it

 

7
ALIGN THE ORGANIZATION AROUND THE STRATEGY

Make sure organization leaders and staff understand and embrace the strategy and their roles in it.

San Francisco PerformancesRead how San Francisco Performances did it

8

BUILD IN LEARNING

Experiment. Evaluate. Adjust. Repeat.

Shedd Institute Read how the Shedd Institute did it

9

PREPARE FOR SUCCESS

Plan for the heavier workload and new staff skills that serving new audiences requires.

Wallace THE ROAD TO RESULTSLearn how to
do it


Tell CMA about your experiences building and engaging audiences. Complete this 20-minute survey by Thursday, August 31, 2017 for the chance to win a free registration (valued at $205) to CMA's 2018 National Conference (January 4-7) in New York City. Winner will be notified in September 2017.

 

© 2017 Chamber Music America