In Partnership with The Wallace Foundation

Building Arts Audiences

AAAE is pleased to partner with The Wallace Foundation to enrich arts administration education with relevant and impactful resources on strategies for building, diversifying, retaining and engaging audiences for the arts. In April, 2015, The Foundation announced a six-year, $52-million initiative aimed at developing practical insights into how arts organizations can successfully expand their audiences.


Photo: Brandon Patoc

Data and Deliberation: How Some Arts Organizations are Using Data to Understand Their Audiences

An evaluation from the Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative examines the rewards and challenges of using data and market research to help buck the trend of declining arts audiences.

Millennials Are Not a Monolith: Experiences from One Group of Performing Arts Organizations’ Audience-Building Efforts

Strategies to engage millennials in the arts may benefit from accounting for the groups’ differences as well as its similarities, according to this brief.

Published: February 2021 / Author: Francie Ostrower, PhD /Publishing Organization: The University of Texas at Austin

The Alchemy of High-Performing Arts Organizations

Financial success for arts organizations begins with artistic excellence and cultural relevance, suggest interviews with leaders of 20 high-performing organizations. Though the study was undertaken prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is shared with the hope that the past experiences of these organizations may inform thinking about strategies for recovery. Read the full press release here.

Published: August 2020/ Co-Authors: SMU DataArts Director Zannie Voss, Ph.D. and Research Director Glenn Voss, Ph.D.

The Alchemy of High-Performing Arts Organizations, Part II: A Spotlight on Organizations of Color

21 leaders of arts organizations of color report deep community engagement and high-quality programs were critical to their financial health.

Published: March 2021/ Co-Authors: SMU DataArts Director Zannie Voss, Ph.D. and Research Director Glenn Voss, Ph.D.

The Alchemy of High Performing Organizations

Facing the current context of a pandemic and an urgent, national discussion of systemic racism, what lessons can arts and cultural organizations draw from the past as they look forward? Join Dr. Zannie Voss, director of SMU DataArts, to discuss a new study of 20 non-profit arts organizations that attained organizational health after facing earlier crises. The study identifies the strategies and outcomes described by these organizations that were linked to high performance and financial health.

Join Dr. Zannie for a follow up discussion and Q&A

What are examples of performing arts and community-based arts organizations of color that have financially outperformed others in substantial ways? What kinds of strategies were used to achieve this financial performance? Were there particular contexts or conditions in which these strategies seemed to be more effective?

AAAE invites Dr. Zannie Voss to talk about the findings of her latest research, The Alchemy of High-Performing Arts Organizations, Part II: A Spotlight on Organizations of Color, conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders of 21 performing arts and community-based arts organizations that identify as primarily serving Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latinx, Arab American or Asia American communities were interviewed for this project. Join Dr. Voss for a discussion of the strategies, insights, and advice obtained from successful arts leaders who serve communities of color. Read her report Buffering Against Uncertainty: Working Capital and the Resiliency of BIPOC-Serving Organizations 

Discussion Guides

Global Arts Live Discussion Guide CoverGlobal Arts Live Tests New Format, New Name to Draw New Audiences
A tool for arts administrators and practitioners seeking to learn about Global Arts Live’s experiences in audience building and adapt them to their own context.

COVID-19 Resources

Engaging Audiences in the Age of Social Distancing
Arts organizations who participated in Wallace’s Building Audiences for Sustainability move further into digital presentation and experimentation.

Navigating COVID-19 for Nonprofits: From Financial Triage to Scenario Planning
​Nonprofit financial experts from Fiscal Management Associates review key areas nonprofits should consider focusing on and provide tools to help weather the current economic crisis.

Centering the Picture: The Role of Race & Ethnicity in Cultural Engagement in the US

The world has changed in many ways since the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that we are a year in, we ask: how can arts & culture organizations respond to what their community need most?

At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, Slover Linett and other researchers recognized the need for the arts and culture sector to listen, ask questions and be in conversation with the communities it serves – including members of those communities who have long been underrepresented in direction-setting conversations. With that goal in mind, Slover Linett researchers (in collaboration with our colleagues at LaPlaca Cohen) launched a national research initiative called Culture and Community in a Time of Crisis, one of the most ambitious audience research studies in the cultural sector. The first phase of the study, an online survey of 124,000 adults in all 50 states, gave researchers a robust dataset to explore and resulted in two public reports. In this session, researchers from Slover Linett will present their most recent report, “Centering the Picture”, which looks at the data through the lens of race and ethnicity in order to inform the sector’s racial reckoning and efforts to decolonize and democratize.