Building Audiences for the Arts: Research from The Wallace Foundation

For 15 years, The Wallace Foundation has supported audience-building efforts by arts organizations and commissioned research to understand what works, what doesn’t and why.

Learn more about Wallace’s six-year, $52 million Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative to help arts organizations build audiences.

Understanding Audiences, Building Connections: How the Seattle Symphony Uses Market Research

Downtown Seattle is changing rapidly, with new residents, new buildings, and new affluence. To connect with the newcomers, the Seattle Symphony launched a wide-ranging audience-research program, with support from the Wallace Foundation’s Building Audiences for Sustainability Initiative. An in-depth article in the new issue of Symphony magazine and a documentary video reveal how the Seattle Symphony experimented with innovative concert formats, focus groups, and audience surveys to yield fresh insights and rising ticket sales.

Check out the Symphony article and the video at the links below. Then, use the Discussion Guide from the League to spark your thinking about market research and adaptation—and to spur group conversations about what might work at your own orchestra.


The Seattle Symphony, Market Research, and NUCCs. NUCCs?

The population of downtown Seattle is changing at twice the rate of the city’s overall population, and the Seattle Symphony was eager to understand these previously untapped audiences. To pinpoint the “new urban cultural consumers”—NUCCs—moving into a newly energized, burgeoning downtown, the Seattle Symphony launched an ambitious market-research program. How did they do it?

Read the Symphony article here.


Can the City's Boom Mean New Audiences for the Seattle Symphony?

In line with the community’s spirit of innovation, Seattle Symphony is using audience research to help target and woo recent transplants.

Watch the video and read the Wallace Foundation article here.



Discussion Guide: Can the City’s Boom Mean New Audiences for The Seattle Symphony?

This guide, created by the League of American Orchestras, explores preliminary insights from the Seattle Symphony’s audience-research efforts as part of the Wallace Foundation’s Building Audiences for Sustainability Initiative. Use it to better understand lessons from the Seattle Symphony’s research project—and how to adapt and apply them to your own orchestra, no matter its budget size.

Read the color study guide here

Read the black and white study guide here


#Hashtag Orchestra

How can orchestras attract—and keep—millennial audiences? Experimentation abounds.

Download the Symphony article here.

Building Millennial Audiences: Barriers and Opportunities

Arts organizations could help attract millennials by clarifying pricing and better explaining the value of the arts, suggests this Wallace-commissioned synthesis of market research.

Download the presentation here.


Taking Out the Guesswork: A Guide to Using Research to Build Arts Audiences

Market research expert Bob Harlow shows how arts organizations can use qualitative and quantitative research to attract and retain new audiences.

Watch the webinar.

View the PowerPoint presentation here.

Download the guide here.

The Road to Results ; Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences

The Road to Results: Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences

This report identifies and examines nine practices of arts organizations that successfully expanded their audiences.

Converting Family into Fans: a Case Study

Converting Family into Fans: How the Contemporary Jewish Museum Expanded its Reach

The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco moves to a larger space and secures a nine-fold increase in family visitors of all backgrounds.

Opening New Doors: A Case Study

Opening New Doors: Hands-On Participation Brings a New Audience to The Clay Studio

Short classes, flexible schedules, new communications and "Date Nights" help Philadelphia's The Clay Studio attract new, younger audiences.

Getting Past “It’s Not For People Like Us”: Pacific Northwest Ballet Builds a Following with Teens and Young Adults

Learn how the Pacific Northwest Ballet garnered new interest in traditional and contemporary ballet among teens and adults under the age of 25.

Extending Reach with Technology: Seattle Opera’s Multipronged Experiment to Deepen Relationships and Reach New Audiences

Learn how the Seattle Opera used technology including simulcasts, interactive lobby displays and behind-the-scenes videos to engage audiences.

Someone Who Speaks Their Language: How a Nontraditional Partner Brought New Audiences to Minnesota Opera

Learn how an opera company found new audience members among women age 35 to 60.

More Than Just a Party: How the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Boosted Participation by Young Adults

Learn how the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Boosted Participation by Young Adults.

Cultivating the Next Generation of Art Lovers

Cultivating the Next Generation of Art Lovers: How Boston Lyric Opera Sought to Create Greater Opportunities for Families to Attend Opera

Learn how Boston Lyric Opera sought to create greater opportunities for families to attend opera.

Building Deeper Relationships: How Steppenwolf Theatre Company Is Turning Single-Ticket Buyers Into Repeat Visitors

Learn how the Steppenwolf Theatre Company is turning single-ticket buyers into repeat visitors.

Attracting an Elusive Audience

Attracting an Elusive Audience: How the San Francisco Girls Chorus Is Breaking Down Stereotypes and Generating Interest Among Classical Music Patrons

Learn how the San Francisco Girls Chorus is breaking down stereotypes and generating interest among classical music patrons.

Learn more about The Wallace Foundation’s research on audience development for the arts.

These resources are made possible by The Wallace Foundation. The League is pleased to be working in partnership with the Foundation to help share ideas and practical solutions to problems in building audiences for the arts.