TRG Insights: The best of 2016
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TRG Blog: Analysis from TRG Arts

TRG Insights: The best of 2016

Sophia Hubeny | December 22, 2016 9:51 AM

“What should we be paying attention to?”

TRG gets this — and similar questions — often. As a firm that operates in four countries with a variety of clients, we have a catbird seat to the latest industry trends each year. In 2016, the trends that caught our attention included:

- The importance of “integrated patron loyalty

- How to make a business model based on subscription thrive

- Why arts organizations should use data to program a balanced season

- The reasons that arts marketers still place low-return marketing ads, and what you can do stop the practice

Still craving more? Below are our most popular posts from 2016. We thank you, our loyal readers, who continue to inspire, teach, and engage with our content. And, we thank the many clients who have collaborated with us to tell their story of organizational change and revenue results.


Photo by Corey Balazowich (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Is the subscription model for symphony orchestras still viable?

In the age of Netflix, Amazon, and Uber, does the subscription need a small tweak, a substantial jump start, or a complete-and-total-tear-down-and-rebuild to remain a worthwhile offering? TRG's Adam Scurto dissects the data on the viability of the subscription model for symphony orchestras, and strategies for reviving subscriptions at your organization.


The next arts industry buzzword should be “integrated patron loyalty”

Toward the beginning of the year, TRG's Amelia Northrup-Simpson published a blog post detailing her interviews with the marketing and development heads at Guthrie Theater. Using data and strategy, the Guthrie developed a culture of loyalty through increased audience numbers, and expansion of their donor base, despite facing major organizational change.


Photo: Chris Devers via flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Why it’s so hard to program a balanced season

Do the titles that your organization programs actually resonate with your community? Your single ticket sales will tell you loud and clear. In this new blog post, President & CEO Jill Robinson dissects the factors that play into artistic programming decisions.


Why do arts marketers keep placing ads that don’t return?

Some ads and media outlets have a better ROI than others. Low-performing ads should be cut but, for one reason or another, we justify keeping them on our to-do list. It’s especially common with print ads. In this post, Senior Consultant J.L. Nave lists three common reasons that marketers keep placing low-performing ads and ways to stop justifying them.


Ronia Holmes

Your organization sucks at "community" and let me tell you why

Because it isn’t central to your mission. Period.

One of our most controversial and popular posts came from Ronia Holmes of the University Of Chicago’s Art + Public Life Initiative. In this blog post, Holmes confronts the prevailing industry wisdom that a “new” audience must be a “diverse” one--and discusses how this philosophy leads to community-building being co-opted as a tactic for patron acquisition, echoing similar sentiments from TRG’s late founder Rick Lester‘s 2013 blog post, Audience Engagement No Man’s Land.

As one of our commenters wrote of Holmes' take, “I found the title off-putting and I found myself getting defensive, but I'm so glad I read it.”


The Changing Role of the Box Office

Does your organization need a box office anymore? Well, yes. But the question is understandable. Certainly the roles and responsibilities of box office staff have changed as more patrons elect to buy online.
The first post in this blog series examines basics of how box office staff can impact data capture, patron experience, retention, and upgrading. 
The second post in this blog series examines more advanced techniques in retaining patrons and providing great service.


Photo by Rosalie O'Connor

Case Study: Boston Ballet

“What’s the big deal about a ballet company having a successful Nutcracker?,” you may be asking yourself. “We all know that holiday programming practically sells itself.” It’s true that holiday shows attract large audiences. But arts managers can still have a huge impact on results, as the story of Boston Ballet's record-breaking Nutcracker illustrates.


Case Study: Kansas City Repertory Theatre

With a capital campaign looming, Kansas City Repertory Theatre needed more support from donations under $1,000. Learn how new rules like "Never ask for less than $100" and "Stop asking people who aren’t likely to give" guided them to a 14% increase in revenue and more donors upgrading than ever before.


Case study: Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre

Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre was stable throughout the recession. However, the company saw a dip in patron-generated revenue in the 2011–12 season. By radically changing investments, campaign messages, and tracking strategy, the company has achieved huge gains over the course of three years, including 125% growth in annual fund gifts and 59% growth in single tickets.



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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>>

Killer Group Sales Campaigns

A boot camp for arts marketing and fundraising leaders

Friday, August 18, 2017 
Online Workshop (11am-2pm MDT)

Do group sales contribute less than 10% of your single ticket revenues? Does your organization only sell tickets to groups reactively? Are you setting group sales goals only to fall short every year?

After subscriptions, group sales is the most important ticket-buying group for an arts and culture organization to cultivate. In this one-day session, learn how to leverage your group sales program to create a renewal base of loyal customers, while also driving new patrons to attend, all by tapping into the social networks that already exist within your marketplace. 

You’ll leave with your own, unique group sales campaign plan for next season, front-line sales strategies, and projections of what is possible for growth.


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

Upcoming Events

Professional Development Workshops


February 21, 2018 - Holiday Season Post-Mortem; Virtual

March 7-8, 2018 - Marketing is from Mars; Development is from Venus; Colorado Springs, CO

March 6-8, 2018 - TRG Arts Executive Summit; London, UK

April 6-8, 2018 - TRG Arts Executive Summit; Colorado Springs, CO



National Alliance of Musical Theaters (NAMT) - April 4-6, 2018; PIttsburgh, PA

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