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TRG Blog: Analysis from TRG Arts


What we see is what you’ll get

Rick Lester | April 2, 2010 4:00 PM
I have resisted the idea of creating a blog for some time. Who has the time? More importantly, would anyone want to read it? Well, I still don’t have the time – but, I am committed to making a serious effort. Will anyone care enough to read? Only time will tell. You found it. If you like it, tell your colleagues. If not – well, keep your knowledge just between us.

No. Wait. That’s wrong. That sort of attitude is much too 20th Century. If you don’t like it, respond. Write back. Tell me when, where and why I’m full of horse hockey. You’ll have at least one reader. Me. And, I promise to make the attempt to make it better next time.

What do I plan to write about? I have a few ideas. Mainly, I plan to focus on best practice marketing and fundraising in the world of arts and culture. Those of us at TRG spend our days working with some of the brightest folk on the planet. What I hope to do is provide a platform to share these great new ideas or trends.

Without question, ours is a deep reservoir of information. TRG now works with more than 600 organizations across North America. Our community data coops put us in touch with literally every kind of arts and cultural organization imaginable. In addition to ballet, opera, orchestra and theatre companies, coops frequently include museums, historical centers, public broadcasters, zoos and the occasional sports team. This means that TRG sits atop a literal mountain of data – some 20 million households of active consumers and supporters of arts and culture.

The TRG Data Lab is regularly diving into this immense data source to identify new insights into the state of the field. It was Data Lab studies that first revealed to us and the industry nearly a decade ago that patron attrition was eroding audiences nationwide, that permission-based list trades can fuel audience retention and growth, and that the best arts consumers are the most active buyers of everything from every organization in a community. One of our next projects will look at the impact of half priced tickets on patron loyalty for an entire market and the individual organizational members that make up the community. Preliminary findings from this San Francisco-based project suggest we’ll learn about emerging best practices around how ticket inventory should be managed. Stay tuned!

A perk of my job is that I get to attend a lot of amazing performances. While I have no intention of becoming a reviewer – that would be too awkward with our clients! But, as I travel the country visiting galleries and attending performances, expect to hear about what I’ve seen and liked while on the road.

Finally, know that a key part of my plan rests on a flexible publication schedule. I travel more than a human should, if health and long life were a goal. There is little that is routine or predicable about my personal or professional life. That means it will be impossible to meet a rigid posting schedule. Fortunately, a blog is built for my kind of situation. You can either check back periodically to look for new stuff, watch my tweets, visit the TRG website, or sign up below for emailed notices. Simple.

So here we go. My first real posting will follow soon and there’ll be more from me and my TRG colleagues. Let’s learn some cool stuff together, sell some tickets and raise some money.






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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.”

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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?

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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.

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