FAR FROM THE CROWDS: SUCCESSFUL THEATERS IN NON-URBAN LOCATIONS
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Ruley, Robert Matthew
Type of Work155 pages
ProgramMA in Historic Preservation
RightsTo view a complete copy of this thesis please contact Goucher College Special Collections & Archives at email@example.com or (410) 337-6075.
SubjectsTheatrical companies United States.
Performing arts Marketing Case studies.
Performing arts Audiences United States.
Performing arts Audiences.
Performing arts Marketing.
Historic preservation -- Theses
This paper seeks to understand whether the best practices marketing principles as set forth in Joanne Scheff Bernstein’s book, Arts Marketing Insights, are being utilized in financially successful theaters operating in locations that are outside of urban areas. Using Bernstein’s book as a source of best practices in arts marketing for these theaters, this paper will apply the tools and strategies to a selected group of theaters to ascertain whether these concepts can be judged as playing a part in the theaters’ successes. This paper will first define what it means to be a financially successful theater or theater company and will further define what it means to have such a company in a non-urban location. The criteria used to identify a theater meeting these requirements will be a combination of the following elements: • The theater must be located in towns with populations of less than 50,000 people. • The theater must be located at least 40 miles driving distance from the center of any urban area whose population exceeds 50,000 people. • The theater company’s annual ticket and subscription revenue must be at least $750,000. • The theater is not part of an institution of higher learning, nor affiliated with a governmental agency, nor is part of a larger non-theater organization. Population data will be derived from data provided by the US Census Bureau and initial distances from urban areas for prospective theaters will be plotted on a map, with final driving distance measurements, when needed, will be determined using Yahoo Maps®. Ticket sales and subscription data will be derived from the most recent IRS 990 reports for each theater available on the Guidestar® website. To be financially successful, theaters must be able to draw an audience. They may perhaps be thought of as financially successful by attracting grants, sponsorships and donations, but without an audience, these other sources will eventually decline. To consistently draw an audience large enough for annual ticket and subscription revenues of $750,000 or more would appear to require being near markets large enough to attract large numbers of patrons. Yet a small, but significant number of theaters are able to sell enough tickets and subscriptions despite being located outside of markets of even modestly-sized urban areas. This paper will utilize Arts Marketing Insights as a test to see whether the techniques advocated in the book are responsible for the success (or possibly even the current viability) of these theaters. By thus applying the data filters listed above to Bernstein’s book, the thesis statement for this paper becomes: “Do U.S. theater companies with ticket sales of over $750,000, and are at least 40 miles from centers of population of 50,000 or more, maintain their audiences utilizing the marketing techniques described in Joanne Scheff Bernstein’s book Arts Marketing Insights?”