Audience Growth Initiative

Performing arts organizations have known that long-term audience members are incredibly loyal and generous and have mainly assumed that the challenge was in attracting newcomers to the experience. It turns out that orchestras are attracting large numbers of newcomers, but are not effectively converting them to long-term customers and supporters.

A group of nine senior marketing professionals and Engaged Audiences LLC have been studying this "churn" over the course of a year. In August of 2007, the prestigious international management consulting firm Oliver Wyman offered to undertake a multi-million dollar pro-bono study to help arts organizations better understand this phenomenon, how to minimize the impact of churn, and how to retain more of these new customers.

Churning Butter Into Gold

Inspired by the findings of the Audience Growth Initiative, marketing and development directors from nine orchestras undertook a follow-up Patron Growth Initiative with Prescott & Associates to tackle the more complex issue of building sustainable support, factoring in both attendance and donations — thus helping orchestras grow total lifetime value. This presentation outlines the findings and recommendations of the yearlong effort that included data mining (on a database of 545,000 concertgoers and donors), qualitative, and quantitative research. This presentation debuted at the League's 2011 National Conference.

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Churn Revisited – Is Anyone Making Butter Yet?

This presentation revisits the Audience Growth Initiative. One year later, orchestras of varying sizes are beginning to take the findings and adapt them to their own products and markets. This presentation debuted at the League's 2009 National Conference.

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Audience Growth, it’s not just good marketing!

A presentation of the key findings of the Oliver Wyman Audience Growth Initiative with a discussion of the artistic and operational implications. This presentation debuted at the League's 2009 National Conference.

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Turning First-timers into Life-timers

(Photos: Mark T. Osler/

This initial presentation on the results of the Oliver Wyman Audience Growth Initiative shows that first-timers make up almost 50% of our customers annually, and that more than 80% of them do not purchase tickets again in the following season, representing a significant opportunity for orchestras and other arts organizations. And we also now better understand the factors that are important to getting more first-timers to return, including specific offers that are most likely to spur repeat purchase. This presentation debuted at the League's 2008 National Conference.

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