WolfBrown Audience Outlook Monitor

The League partners with WolfBrown to provide critical, evidence-based insights into the shifting attitudes and behaviors defining audiences today.

IDEA Study of Audience Attitudes towards Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity

The Project

International arts consultancy WolfBrown initiated and led this 2023 project in partnership with the League, engaging 27 League member orchestras in research determined to identify how audiences are currently valuing and responding to orchestras’ EDI efforts.

Research partnerships like this help us bring you additional opportunities to take part in orchestra-specific research that goes beyond the surveys and research projects run by the League itself. In this case, the collaboration created a new opportunity to look beyond the numbers and explore the actual experiences and perspectives of audience members.

League Insights

  1. Some audience members feel unwelcome at orchestra concerts, and those who do so are twice as likely to be BIPOC than White. The most often reported sources of discomfort are other audience members and front-of-house staff. Creating an inclusive audience experience means engaging partner venues and front-of-house venue staff in EDI training, and inviting current audiences to join your orchestra in welcoming new friends to the audience.
  2. When programming is designed with and for BIPOC communities, audience diversity increases. The process underpinning this work is at least as important as the resulting performance. Specifically, the programming effort must go deeper than the selection of artists and repertoire: while racial/ethnic diversity among the artists and repertoire your orchestra presents is important in many other ways, the research shows that it does not directly advance audience diversity.
  3. An orchestra’s commitment to EDI is a significant donation criterion for Black, Latinx, women and younger audience members, who also believe strongly that arts organizations should “work to ensure that all community members feel invited to attend, and, when they come, feel welcome and respected.” Black, Latinx, women and younger audience members want their orchestra’s commitment to audience inclusion and belonging to be clearly articulated, but this need is currently not being met: many audience members are unable to rate their own orchestra’s performance on diversity, equity or inclusion. It is clear that communicating with audiences more effectively about EDI work will help to build both audience loyaltyand individual donation revenue.

Learn More

Watch an on-demand League webinar featuring Alan Brown (Managing Principal, WolfBrown), Deanna Hoying (Executive Director, Symphony New Haven), and Laura Reynolds (Vice President of Impact and Innovation, San Diego Symphony) discussing the detailed findings.

Explore the data by accessing WolfBrown’s dashboard, available to League members. For login instructions, see the Dashboard Access page.

Explore a wealth of relevant articles, webinars and podcasts about audience diversification, by visiting the League’ resource center’s Audience Diversification Resources.

Participating Orchestras

  • Allentown Symphony Association
  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
  • Boston Symphony Orchestra
  • Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Charlotte Symphony
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • The Cleveland Orchestra
  • Detroit Symphony Orchestra
  • Houston Symphony
  • Knoxville Symphony Orchestra
  • LA Phil
  • Madison Symphony Orchestra
  • New York Philharmonic
  • Omaha Symphony
  • Orchestra Lumos
  • Pacific Symphony
  • Philadelphia Orchestra
  • Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
  • Richmond Symphony
  • San Diego Symphony
  • San Francisco Symphony
  • South Bend Symphony Orchestra
  • St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
  • Symphony New Hampshire
  • Wichita Symphony
  • Winston-Salem Symphony

COVID-19 Study

Between February 2021 and November 2022, the Audience Outlook Monitor COVID-19 Study (AOM) tracked readiness to return to arts and culture venues, among the audience members of 650 arts organizations. A cohort of 15 participating League member orchestras worked with the WolfBrown team to deploy regular surveys, meeting monthly to discuss trends and their implications for safety policies, programming, and marketing. In partnership with the League, the resulting Overview of Results shines a light on orchestra audience priorities and behaviors during this unique time for our field. Recordings of executive briefings are also available on the WolfBrown website.

The participating orchestras have made their data available to all League members in aggregated form. Members may directly access the latest survey results through a password protected dashboard. For login instructions, see the Dashboard Access page.

The 15 orchestras constituting the national orchestra cohort were:

  • The Cleveland Orchestra
  • Detroit Symphony Orchestra
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Madison Symphony Orchestra
  • Nashville Symphony
  • New World Symphony
  • New York Philharmonic
  • North Carolina Symphony
  • Omaha Symphony
  • Oregon Symphony
  • Pacific Symphony
  • Philadelphia Orchestra
  • San Diego Symphony
  • San Francisco Symphony
  • Tucson Symphony Orchestra

We are grateful to these orchestras for making the cohort possible, and especially to the thousands of patrons who take time out of their busy schedules to complete the survey. Without them, none of this would be possible.


Please contact knowledge@americanorchestras.org.

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