A potted history of arts marketing

A potted history of arts marketing

By Gerri Morris


A history of arts marketing going back to the 1970s and the lack of any marketing activity, through to the creation of marketing departments and consortia, to the present day’s audience development agencies. Followed by an exploration of how arts marketing strategies can use the Ansoff matrix (new and existing markets and products) and how Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can help our understanding of what motivates people to become arts attenders.

So, how does the evolution of arts marketing map onto the Ansoff matrix? Well, our history in the arts has been one of stop and start, of sporadic success and failure, and we’ve spent the last twenty years randomly jumping around the Ansoff matrix – a bit here, a bit there – and there has actually been very little strategy in terms of building and retaining audiences. There are theatres where we can go in and see that there are 10,000 current attenders, 20,000 lapsed attenders, and 70,000 names in a cupboard stuffed away somewhere because there are too many of them to mail to.

So, Ansoff assumes that in the pursuit of growth we systematically pursue four key activities: acquisition, retention, frequency, and cross-over, and these are fundamental principles in audience development. But the hallmarks of a lot of arts marketing in audience development, are short-term, sporadic, project-funded, hunch-based: the complete opposite of acquisition, retention, frequency and cross-over. In fact we forget to acquire audiences, most of those we have already got, or who have found there way under their own steam, we’ve converted into lapsed attenders with just one encounter and then we’ve punished infrequent attenders by cleaning them off our lists.

Resource type: | Published: 2013