Marketing for the Performing Arts

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How to Reach Minority Audiences

Marketing for the arts (and especially performing arts centers) can be a tricky task, especially when you’re trying to draw in an audience that doesn’t typically attend symphonies or galleries. It’s important for these venues to branch out and host performers/artists that would appeal to a variety of demographics, since the arts are all about learning from different perspectives. It’s even more important though to find the proper marketing outlets to get the word out about these events.

Funding for the Arts

Many believe that the arts have a homogeneous audience partially because these arts organizations are spearheaded by a primarily white leadership. Some have recognized this issue and are making strides to introduce diversity among leadership. For example, the Rutgers Business School in New Jersey offers a Cultural and Ethnic Arts Executive Leadership Program to help “increase the diversity of the leadership in major cultural and ethnic arts organizations”.  The Atlantic covers this issue in “Who Should Pay for the Arts in America?”, stating that the 1965 National Endowment for the Arts no longer promotes inclusion and community the way it was intended to. Instead, private donors and foundations have filled the gap left by a slashed NEA budget. While Andy Horwitz argues that this transition has caused arts funding to be funneled into specific institutions that these donors to choose to support (bypassing the people the NEA was founded to help serve), others might say that these donors are the only ones keeping the arts alive. Many don’t realize that a portion of this funding goes toward marketing tactics that will increase the scope of audience awareness, specifically toward minorities. The greatest marketing tactic of all though is creating true and lasting relationship with the group you’re trying to draw in. If you care about your community, it will show in the way you approach diversity programming and outreach events.

Drawing in Youth

The youth are another key demographics that these arts organizations want to target, but sometimes fail to draw in due to the niche and mature nature of their performances. The National Guild for Community Arts Education offers an outline on the importance of engaging adolescents in the arts, using support from several studies to prove that the arts help young people develop an individual voice and feel inclusion in their community. Several larger performing arts centers have the funds to host school matinees, allowing schools from around the area to attend these educational presentations at a discount price. To market events such as the National Geographic Live matinees approaching in the spring, performing arts centers must target school administrators to make a case for why these matinees are both educational and affordable. On top of general social media hype, you can market youth events using more non-conventional tactics. Help young people feel more comfortable in your building by offering free arts and crafts events in the lobby, or get the word out about your brand by handing out sunglasses and water bottles with your logo on them. Most schools understand the importance of arts education and will allow performers to visit theater classes to promote their upcoming shows. Take advantage of every opportunity to make yourself known to the people who will one day have the fate of the arts in their hands.

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

The arts are finding new ways to make their performances and festivals more accessible to the public by offering apps, utilizing social media pages, and networking with local arts organizations. Here in Kansas City, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts has a free app that allows you to find upcoming shows, purchase tickets, and connect with their various social media pages. There are plenty of ways these venues can address audience diversity through specific marketing tactics. Choosing the right ones for your target audience may take some trial and error, but the results will make it all worth it.

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