Bring Female Radio Listeners to Opera

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The new study, Someone Who Speaks Their Language: How a Nontraditional Partner Brought New Audiences to Minnesota Opera, describes a project by the Twin Cities-​based opera company to test new ways to attract women ages 35–60 to performances through an unlikely, but effective, partnership with a local talk-​radio host. The effort resulted in bringing newcomers to performances and generating return visits from some of them.

Minnesota Opera formed a partnership with Radio Host Ian Punnett and the radio station myTalk 107.1 in order to reach a target group the opera company thought might have potential fans: Women between the ages of 35 and 60. An opera lover, Punnett made the art form relatable and exciting to women who had never been to a performance, so much so that they jammed the phone lines when he announced ticket giveaways to Minnesota Opera on his radio show.

After 4 seasons, the study says, more than 1,000 households new to Minnesota Opera had redeemed their free tickets to attend a performance, and 18% had paid to come back. The study offers insights into this work and the challenges of making large numbers of newcomers frequent opera-goers.

‰ÛÏHere at Minnesota Opera, the generous Wallace grant enabled us to reach out to a specific audience (myTalk 107.1 listeners) and get them to the theater for the first time,‰Û said Artistic Director Dale Johnson. ‰ÛÏThis was accomplished through ticket giveaways and then following up with recipients, encouraging them to make a purchase. The grant also made research efforts possible, which influenced our marketing strategies moving forward. All arts organizations are facing changes in their audiences, including their buying habits. We were able to use the grant to experiment with a new media partnership that proved to be successful and have applied this knowledge in new audience outreach initiatives.‰Û

‰ÛÏIn our experience, arts organizations must develop new ways to cultivate audiences, but they often do not have the resources to experiment,‰Û said Daniel Windham, director of arts at The Wallace Foundation. ‰ÛÏOpera companies, with higher ticket costs than other art forms and deeply ingrained perceptual barriers, face a particularly tricky set of challenges. Minnesota Opera found an interesting way to break down some of these barriers.‰Û

Someone Who Speaks Their Language was written by Bob Harlow, a market research expert who is leading the case study project, and Cindy Cox Roman, a researcher and strategy advisor to businesses and nonprofits.

AudienceSCAN reports that 16.5% of adults have attended some type of arts performance in the past year. 34.5% of attendees were men.

In line with the Wallace report findings on giveaways and promotions, daily deals prove to be a good way to get in touch with performance arts fans. In the past 30 days, 38% of this audience took action based on a daily deal, and 70% took action at least once in the past year.

For radio, 33% of this audience reacted to a spot they heard in the past month, and 67% took action in the past 12 months after tuning in.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.