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Jamie Alexander
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Grow arts and culture revenue

What we learned from the elephant in the room


Last month, at the Tessitura Learning Community Conference, we wanted to collect data on a topic that, in the performing arts industry, we feel is the elephant in the room—audience attrition, or why audience members attend a performance and never come back. So, we brought an actual elephant to the room…

elephant.png (1)

Here’s how it worked: we asked each person who visited our exhibit table at the conference to place a sticker anywhere on our elephant, and the sticker’s color corresponded to the reason the voter thought that audience members don’t return to organizations after attending a performance or event.

The result was not only a piece of art created by our very own professional community, but also insight into the reasons our colleagues think we lose audience members:

Reasons we think audience members don't return

What we found particularly interesting was that only 2% of our voters blame the performance itself for lack of return attendance. On the flip side, the top reason our colleagues think audiences don’t return is due to a bad experience. This aligns with our firm belief at JCA Arts Marketing that a bad experience trumps positive feelings that a person has about a performances (check out Timmy Metzner’s post— Love Your Audience (And They’ll Love You)).

So what are you doing to ensure that your audience members feel comfortable in your venue? Are you making sure parking is easy? Is your customer path on your website intuitive? Are you training your box office staff on best customer service practices? Are you ushers welcoming to you patrons?

We’re here to help. Learn how JCA Arts Marketing can help you create your ideal patron experience.

P.S. Our elephant still needs a name. We’re taking suggestions.