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Audiences, markets and motivations in the performing arts

Presentation for the Performing Arts Alliance with funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council

February 21, 201221 February 2012

Arts attendance and participation

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This presentation was conducted by Kelly Hill via webinar to members (and some non-members) of groups affiliated with Canada’s Performing Arts Alliance. The webinar provided statistics on performing arts audiences, attendance and visitor motivations.

Because many organizations in the performing arts and other cultural disciplines have similar clientele, the presentation encouraged performing arts organizations to collaborate with other organizations and to consider joint marketing endeavours in order to gain new visitors to all types of organizations. The presentation also outlined some sponsorship possibilities for performing arts organizations, by highlighting other types of businesses that are also frequented by high-spending performing arts goers.

The presentation outlined some similarities between fledgling research projects into audience motivations in the performing arts, including the role of motivations such as the desire to socialize with family and friends, to learn something new, to have high-quality arts experiences, to have enjoyable, entertaining and emotionally rewarding experiences, and to support local arts organizations. Despite these similarities, the presentation cautioned that “attendee motivations may vary for different types of organizations, in different locations, and at different times”. The presentation advised participants to learn more about their own attendees’ motivations so that arts organizations can better meet attendees’ needs and better attract new audiences by marketing the key benefits of arts participation.

The presentation concluded by citing an Australian guide to audience research (Audience Research Made Easy: A Guide for Small to Medium Performing Arts Organizations) that indicated that “the more you know about your audiences (and donors), the better you’ll be able to assess their needs and match them to your organization’s mission and vision”.

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