TRG Insights: The best of 2015
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TRG Blog: Analysis from TRG Arts

TRG Insights: The best of 2015

Amelia Northrup-Simpson | December 16, 2015 4:08 PM

Like most people who work at TRG, I love data. One of my favorite activities near the end of the year is to open up Google Analytics and see which blog posts, case studies, and other content were most popular with our readers.

The top content from our blog reflects the topics which we see getting the most attention in our industry today. Some topline observations:

  • The topic of subscription and the evolution of the arts business model continues to inspire research and dialogue.
  • We see more interest every day in data and how arts professionals can use it to make decisions.
  • We’re hearing and thinking more about the relationship between marketing and other departments and how organizations can build patron loyalty collaboratively.
  • The topic of pricing and its impact on patrons seemed to be more often discussed this year as organizations balance revenue and accessibility.

Find below the eight most-read insights from TRG this year. We thank you, our readers, for continuing to read, share and respond to our content this year!

Inconveniently, subscriptions still sustain the arts.

Our first post of 2015 was also one of our most popular. This blog post by CEO Jill Robinson on why subscriptions are still vital to the financial health of arts organizations and a subsequent webinar drew record numbers of arts professionals to our site. In light of recent studies on the subscription model, this post is even more relevant.

Marketing is from Mars; Development is from Venus

Marketing and development might work in the same building, but all too often it feels like they come from two different planets. This post highlights six ways to get both departments working toward the organization’s overall loyalty and revenue needs.

A Data Management Love Story

Why is a data manager a critical staff position for every arts organization these days? In this interview with Heather Kitchen of Dallas Theatre Center, read how their data manager helped multiple departments analyze and take action based on patron data.

Pricing terms for performing arts organizations: a list of definitions

Oh, you arts marketing nerds. You surprise and delight us constantly. We had no idea a post on the vocabulary we use to talk about pricing would get so much attention. This post spawned a re-post from the npENGAGE blog and prompted our friends at Patron Technology to create an infographic about pricing jargon.

Patron Loyalty Study: Loyalty by the Numbers

Early this year, we released a study in partnership with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance investigating the buying and donating behavior of nearly 1 million arts audience households at 17 arts and cultural institutions in Philadelphia. This study was really the first of its kind—an analysis of loyalty not just to one organization, but across an entire community. The key finding? Retention and engagement of current audiences may be the most important strategy for an organization’s bottom line.

 Read more here>>
Watch the webinar>>

Case Study: Oregon Shakespeare Festival

In 2011, a ceiling beam cracked in one of Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s three venues, forcing it to close--during the busiest time of their season. Learn how the festival recovered revenue and member admissions through changes to ticket and membership prices.

Arts marketers without borders

TRG Fellow Vincent VanVleet of Phoenix Theatre wrote this visionary post about the role of marketing in arts organizations. In it, he questions the function of marketing as a solely ticket-selling department and advocates re-structuring arts organizations to more holistically serve patrons.

Video series: Measure what matters

This fall, TRG released a video series on the 6 metrics that arts and cultural organizations should be tracking in order to assess their current situation, stabilize their business model, and start generating working capital. The series got over 2,000 views on YouTube and was circulated by You’ve Cott Mail, Theatre Communications Group, Americans for the Arts, and others.

Metric #1: Patron-generated revenue

Forget earned vs. contributed. It's all about how much revenue your patrons generate. In this video, learn why the earned vs. contributed classification can create siloes and why you should also track patron-generated revenue. More>>

Metric #2: Active patron participation

Active patrons are the patrons an arts organization serves today. But will they still be there tomorrow? It depends on how YOU cultivate them. In this video, learn how and why to measure active patron participation. More>>

Metric #3: Data capture rate

To cultivate an arts patron, you’ve got to know their history with your organization first. That starts with data. In this video, learn why capturing contact information can mean serious revenue gain—or lost opportunity. More>>


Metric #4: New audience churn rate

Churn. Attrition. Turnover. Call it what you will; the fact is, you’re losing new patrons. In this video, learn why retention matters, how to measure your risk, and a 4-step process  to reverse churn at your organization. More>>


Metric #5: % of subscriber-donors

Is renewal rate the best measurement of loyalty? In this video, learn why renewal rate can be deceptive—and the metric arts organizations should consider tracking alongside it. More>>

Metric #6: Per capita revenue Is your arts organization generating the most revenue it can for each patron? There’s a way to measure that! In this video, learn how to figure out if your pricing strategy is causing you to lose money. More>>


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Case Study: Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma

Annual operating budget up 32% in 5 seasons

Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma 
 Photo: Joseph Mills

After a poor year for earned revenue in 2012, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma (LTO) had rebounded and was experiencing a growth spurt. In 2013, Director of Marketing Danyel Siler had turned her attention to single tickets.

Her hard work had paid off, but season tickets were still a challenge. “Season tickets were steadily declining,” she said. “The season ticket campaign had been done the same way for years, maybe even decades. And we blamed the fall on the trend that subs were declining everywhere. Our executive director, artistic director, and I all knew something needed to change, but we didn’t know what.”

Read More>>


Jill Robinson
Adam Scurto
Amelia Northrup-
J.L.Nave Vincent VanVleet Keri Mesropov

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