Harnessing Technology to Optimize the Customer Relationship: The Case of Cirque du Soleil (Abridged)

VIP AMALUNA B_0101_R-800

by André Courchesne, Philippe Ravanas and Cristian Pulido

Since becoming Vice-President of Cirque du Soleil’s E-Marketing and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Department in 2016, Martin Céré has managed to transform the organization’s database, not only by boosting the number of customer profiles from 5 to 15 million, but also by expanding its use, notably in relation to social media.

This case study describes how a unified approach was developed by integrating email campaigns, box office, electronic distribution, user profile modelling, data enrichment, sales forecasting and dynamic pricing with a view to strengthening the customer relationship, building customer loyalty and creating personalized offerings.


AMALUNA (Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil).

While Cirque du Soleil continues to perform its shows around the world with great success, the arrival of Martin Céré brought about a profound transformation of the customer relationship by shifting the focus from traditional email campaigns centred on a product orientation to an integrated vision of the customer relationship based on a market orientation. According to Martin Céré, thanks to today’s technology, it is now possible to “manage the entire customer relationship and its evolution by gathering, structuring, enriching and managing every piece of information and interaction related to the customer experience.”

The information collected includes identifying data (name, address, phone number, email address), data related to interest in Cirque’s shows (demographic and psychographic data, data related to purchasing behaviour, satisfaction and transactions) and data based on customers’ electronic habits (website visits, history of electronic transactions). While the task of gathering such large amounts of data requires discipline and rigour, the outcome is coherent, quantifiable and usable results that facilitate future interactions with customers and save time and money while building loyalty toward Cirque du Soleil.

VIP AMALUNA B_0101_R-800

Audience at AMALUNA (Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil).

In addition, Cirque enriches its database using information gathered from social media and data aggregators (for instance, based on data mined from loyalty cards). This allows the company to, for example, identify eight or nine potential consumer segments and to test each one using targeted offerings. According to several studies, data gathered from consumers’ Google or Facebook searches are much more accurate than the information provided by traditional surveys in that they eliminate the social conformity bias. For example, the use of psychographic attributes on Facebook (age, gender, personality traits, etc.) makes it possible to describe each segment with greater precision and to more accurately target prospective consumers. Finally, post-show electronic surveys facilitate the measurement of audience satisfaction for each show in each market, acting as a kind of daily barometer of satisfaction.

The article highlights the fact that the success of customer relationship management depends not only on technology, but also on the company’s organizational structure, management of human resources, performance evaluation and sensitive ethical issues. In concluding, Martin Céré mentions several projects he has developed with the aim of enhancing the customer relationship, improving satisfaction and building sustainable loyalty, including a website personalization project, an automated purchasing process and virtual product offerings.

Customer Relationships in Arts Marketing: A Review of Key Dimensions in Delivery by Artistic and Cultural Organizations (Abridged)

by François Colbert and Danilo C. Dantas

What do we know about the customer relationship in arts management? What role does relational marketing play in cultural organizations? What are the avenues worth exploring in this field? These are the main questions addressed in this article.

There are few fields where the customer relationship is more crucially important than in the arts and cultural sector. But there are several dimensions to this relationship. The quality of the artistic product no longer suffices. In today’s hyper competitive marketplace, the sheer variety and quality of offerings vying for consumers’ attention have forced arts organizations to invest in other aspects of the customer experience. For example, the success of the Tessitura database illustrates how arts and cultural organizations can improve the customer experience and build a stronger relationship with consumers. The development of new audiences also relies on a deeper understanding of their expectations and behaviours.

The evolution of marketing and technology has inspired researchers to explore these new trends from different angles, adding to a growing body of literature. These studies on the relationship between arts organizations and their customers have sometimes produced conflicting results. This article seeks to encourage further debate on these issues by tracing the origins of this line of research and presenting an overview of the main findings thus far.

Drawing on different texts from the literature, the article first turns its attention to the use of the product orientation and market orientation in the arts and the variations in their effectiveness depending on the type of customer. The article then presents the main factors (aesthetic, social, service-related) affecting the quality of the customer experience and discusses the importance of the notion of co-creation in the cultural sector. The authors then move on to explore the role of emotions, involvement, pleasure and the quality of the customer relationship in the development of satisfaction, repurchase or recommendation intentions, and loyalty toward a cultural organization or product.

By way of conclusion, the article calls for a reflection on two crucial avenues of investigation that have received little attention to date. The first concerns the huge impact that the shifting demographics, cultural changes and technological developments of recent years have had on the different types of cultural consumers and their defining characteristics. An investigation of these new types of consumers that goes beyond the usual subscriber/non-subscriber dichotomy is required in order to gain a clearer understanding of the type of relationship they want to establish with the cultural organization. Second, in a context where most research in the field of arts marketing has relied on traditional methods such as surveys, qualitative interviews and observation, this article invites researchers to adopt innovative approaches in their research into the relationship between consumers and arts organizations. Longitudinal studies, for example, could help us better understand the evolution of the relationship between a group of customers and a specific organization. Moreover, neurophysiological methods such as eye tracking and analysis of facial micro-expressions could afford better insight into the reactions of consumers to specific changes in the artistic experience. These new avenues of research offer researchers a valuable opportunity to design innovative and impactful studies that will improve our comprehension of the customer relationship in the field of arts and cultural marketing.

Read the full article in the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 21, Number 2, Winter 2019.

The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts: Balancing International Reach and Strong Local Roots (Abridged)

1993 Portrait-of-Hugo-Simons-sm

by Serge Poisson-de Haro, François Normandin and Emmanuel Coblence

While the most renowned art mega-museums located in global cities are characterized by their attendance figures and the wealth of their collections, museums that are of medium size and located in culturally influential cities have also succeeded in making a name for themselves. The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) has implemented a model that enables it to realize its ambitions by mounting temporary exhibitions that strengthen its local roots and enhance its international reach while maintaining the highest standards. Under the leadership of Nathalie Bondil, Director General and Chief Curator since 2007, this museum has become a widely recognized cultural institution. Following conversations with members of MMFA senior management, the authors identify the main factors behind the simultaneous strengthening of local roots and global impact.

Jean-Noël Desmarais pavilion, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Photo: Bernard Fougères et Jean-François Lejeune.

Jean-Noël Desmarais pavilion, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts. Photo: Bernard Fougères and Jean-François Lejeune.

As with many museums, the evolution of the MMFA during the past two decades saw a radical shift from “museum as temple” centred on an original mission of conservation to the expanded concept of “museum as forum”, taking into account educational, cultural and economic issues. This evolution was fuelled by a growth in museum attendance in Quebec and by the vibrant cultural scene in Montréal. In 2010-11, the museum had revenues of $28M, of which 59% was provided by public support, 25% by earned revenues and 16% by donations and sponsorships. The museum attracted 563 000 visitors, 87% of them from the Greater Montréal area, and this factor influenced significantly the MMFA strategic objectives:

  1. Enhance the institution’s reputation locally, ensuring that it is firmly rooted in the Montréal community, including reaching out to neglected groups (disadvantaged youth, cultural communities, etc.).
  2. Promote and strengthen Montrealers’ loyalty to the museum, through a significant increase in membership, in order to foster donations of art works to enrich the permanent collection.
  3. Ensure the Museum’s financial viability, by increasing self-generated resources and donations and, to a lesser extent, revenues from publications, boutiques and restaurants.
Otto Dix - Portrait of Hugo Simons

Otto Dix (1891-1969), Portrait of the Lawyer Hugo Simons, 1925, tempera and oil on plywood. The portrait – that has an incredible story – was acquired by the MMFA thanks to a collective effort rarely exerted for a single work of art. MMFA, purchase, grant from the Government of Canada under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, gifts of the Succession J.A. DeSève, Mr. and Mrs. Charles and Andrea Bronfman, Mr. Nahum Gelber and Dr. Sheila Gelber, Mrs. Phyllis Lambert, the Volunteer Association and the Junior Associates of the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Mrs. Louise L. Lamarre, Mr. Pierre Théberge, the Museum’s acquisition fund, and the Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest. Photo MMFA, Brian Merrett.

Based on an analysis of the production of three exhibitions, the authors identified a three-step decision process: (1) validate the relevance of the artistic and academic approach of an exhibition in light of the organization’s strategic vision, ensuring both export potential and local relevance; (2) mobilize key stakeholders to secure the content needed to constitute a significant body of work; and (3) ensure viability by mobilizing partners for joint funding. In this perspective, internationalization is as much a condition as a consequence of an institution’s ability to finance culturally ambitious exhibitions.

The article demonstrates that it is possible for medium-sized arts organizations, which operate in a community rich in cultural resources and committed to supporting the arts, to carve out a place for themselves. Although their tangible artistic resources may be more limited than those located in global cities, organizations like the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts can use their creative skills to develop innovative projects that reflect a sense of belonging to the community. Success depends on the extent to which an organization can rally stakeholders and mobilize the competencies and tangible/ intangible resources needed to secure both cultural content and financial resources. Through a series of innovative projects, these organizations can make a name for themselves and gain both local and international support and recognition.

Read the full article in the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 16, Number 1, Fall 2013.

Creating Brand Identity in Art Museums: A Case Study (Abridged)

KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki

by Sofia Pusa and Liisa Uusitalo

Based on the experience of three modern and contemporary art museums in Helsinki, the authors discuss how to create brand identity in art museums. The combination of marketing and art has long been considered ill matched, according to the assumption that marketing will automatically degrade the inner value and distinctiveness of art and favour only the most popular and superficial. However, as shown by several studies on arts organizations, skillful marketing can contribute to cultural education and attract the interest of new audiences – in other words, upgrade the audience’s competence instead of downgrading art. Brand identity carries the museum’s purpose and can be evaluated on the following dimensions: product, person, symbolic and organization-related.

When the museum is perceived as a product, attention should be paid to both the core product (collections and exhibitions) and the augmented product (museum services, such as the museum shop or educational programs). When the museum wants to differentiate itself, it may create a brand personality through references to specific persons or user groups (artists, art enthusiasts, designers) with whom consumers may identify.  When the meanings associated with a brand become widely accepted, the brand can be said to represent something beyond itself: it becomes a symbol, something that embodies the visual imagery, a logo, a slogan, a metaphor or a meaningful heritage story. Finally, a museum brand may represent a whole organization, with its unique set of values, culture, behaviours, assets and skills, that delivers the museum experience to the customers.

KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki.

KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki.

According to the museum and marketing directors interviewed, the marketing role in museums consists often of promotion through traditional exhibition-based advertising. Museums use their websites and social media to expand their visibility due to their cost-effective and powerful nature. As well, the museums’ ability to advertise depends on their partnership arrangements, for example with television stations. Management of networks is perceived as an important part of a museum’s brand management by maintaining relationships with other cultural organizations, sponsors and financial partners.

By using new creative approaches, museums can strengthen their brand identity and gain visibility. Creative marketing can comprise cross-over events such as lectures, concerts, films, DJ evenings, and even skateboard design competitions. Creative marketing seems to be most efficient when it is built on the unique features of an ongoing exhibition and, at the same time, supports the museum’s brand identity.

In conclusion, the brand identity of a museum is based mainly on the scope and type of its collections and exhibitions. This suggests that museums act fairly autonomously in planning their core product. Exhibitions are meant to “surprise” visitors by providing art experiences thus far unknown to them. This proactive strategy is particularly true for museums of contemporary and modern art. The implications of this research are that museums could broaden their perspectives and, in their marketing activities, progress from exhibition-based promotion towards a more comprehensive brand-identity marketing.

Read the full article in the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 17, Number 1, Fall 2014.

Arts Management in Developing Countries: A Latin American Perspective (Abridged)

National Centre for Historical Memory in Bogotá (photo Laura Adlers)

by Jaime Ruiz-Gutiérrez, Philip Stanley Grant, François Colbert

Mainstream academia has focused on Arts Management in developed countries. Therefore, shaped by the different artistic, cultural and social contexts in developing economies, this research proposes a new model to help understand Arts Management in Latin America.

In Latin America, a lot of arts and culture organizations can rely only on their own cultural identity as a source of value creation. This is the case for music and other manifestations of social identity, such as work, social relations, popular representations, and heritage — all of which are culturally rooted and fulfill an indispensable economic function for the community.

In most artistic experiences, the “social contributions” (Sommer, 2006) which have been produced through intuitive and spontaneous management processes are of great importance and impact for their respective communities. These processes, in which social value is created, require, in many cases, a precondition for the creation of economic value. At a community level, three different types of impact can be identified: 1) the construction of social capital; 2) the creation of identity; and 3) the improvement of image and status.

This article presents three cases that, without being exhaustive, show the distinctive elements of the proposed arts management model for Latin American countries.

First, the three cases share the fact that they are bottom-up processes and, to a large extent, it is the communities that are being managed that guide and determine the management processes’ evolution and development. These processes are participative and conflictive, involving a trial and error strategy that is another distinctive element. This practice, in turn, gives way to a process of organisational learning, an administrative skill developed in order to institutionalise and integrate these processes in their social dynamic.

A high percentage of the success of these processes is determined by the social value “prompted” in the respective communities, in complex circumstances of unmet basic needs. The communities’ environment, based on “forced autonomy”, pressured them to find their own solutions. The above implies the development of competitive advantages, based on their characteristics as social groups, which mould their lifestyles.

Finally, the processes achieve the management goal which is the institutionalisation of the given promoted activity whereby art and culture are the instruments used to promote the legitimacy required to achieve such institutionalisation. In the three cases, the activities described became institutional reference points in their specific contexts.

A Latin American Perspective - Proposed Model

A Latin American Perspective – Proposed Model

Based on the identification of the arts as a factor of value creation, it is necessary to systematise the different management processes which made possible the design, production and distribution of the goods and services. The perspective described in this paper is experiential and community-based, with important impacts on the respective society. These intuitive management processes are aimed primarily at the satisfaction of urgent socioeconomic needs and the communities’ skills are the basic elements of these cultural manifestations.

National Centre for Historical Memory in Bogotá (photo Laura Adlers)

National Centre for Historical Memory in Bogotá (photo Laura Adlers), an example that could illustrate one of the article’s three cases: “Civic Culture: Bogotá and its transformation”.

Read the full article in the International Journal of Arts Management, Special Edition – Latin America – Spring 2016.

Board Composition and Organizational Performance in the Cultural Sector: The Case of Italian Opera Houses (Abridged)

Teatro alla Scala (Photo: Frances Craven).

by Paola Dubini and Alberto Monti

The most significant event of opera houses in Italy is the reform of 1996, transforming opera houses from government bodies into foundations with boards of directors, budget autonomy, and responsibility for hiring and firing. As a consequence of the reform, the general manager is appointed by the board rather than by the ministry and the local mayor serves as president of the board. Additionally, private contributions to the theatre’s endowment are set at a minimum of 12%. In Italian opera houses, the size, representation and role of the board are defined by law; therefore, the degree of freedom left to different stakeholders in the composition of the board relies very much on the personal characteristics of each board member.

In this article, we address the issue of sustainability of Italian opera houses, by focusing on the relationship between board composition and performance, on the assumption that a functioning board is instrumental to engaging stakeholders and donors in a mutual reputation-building exercise as it addresses issues emerging from outside the organization and affecting its reputation. In order to do this, we identify the following roles within the board of directors: artists, controllers, cultural managers, influential people and other specialists. Our research is based on the analysis of 14 Italian Lyric and Symphonic Foundations, between 2001 and 2012.

Teatro alla Scala (Photo: Frances Craven).

Teatro alla Scala (Photo: Frances Craven).

Our findings suggest that boards do matter and that their composition affects the ability of opera houses to reach out to different categories of revenue provider. For instance, controllers and influential people both affect theatres’ global performance and earned income. We found no effect of the proportion of influential people on both public and private income, although we did find a relationship between influential people and public income.

Similarly, we hypothesized that cultural managers and other specialists influence earned income, since they might have the competencies necessary to help theatres maximize this type of revenue. This hypothesis was not confirmed.

An interesting result concerns the proportion of artistic profiles on boards of directors in explaining both public and private funding. In line with expectations, the presence of those with artistic profiles on the board was negatively correlated to private funding.

Yet our results also indicate a non-significant effect of a high proportion of board members with an artistic background on public financing, although artistic quality is a specific driver of public funding in Italian opera houses.

One of our findings concerns the relationship between competence diversity among board members and within the board overall. Although all board functions are performed at the group level, specialization at the individual level could matter. Different board members with different profiles will contribute to board activities in different ways. Board members might be individually diverse – each one having several non-mutually exclusive profiles – while at the aggregate level the board might have a degree of homogeneity in terms of profiles represented. Our results indicate that skill diversity in individual board members and at the board level impacts performance in different ways.

Finally, in the case of earned income, the gross domestic product at a regional level positively and significantly affects private funds, although the magnitude is small (€247). Additionally, the presence of new members on the board seems to strongly and positively affect theatres’ ability to raise private funds. New members increase theatres’ ability to attract private funds by approximately €182,000.

Read the full article in the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 20, Number 2, Winter 2018.


New Variations of Dual Leadership: Insights From Finnish Theatre (Abridged)


by Mari Järvinen, Heli Ansio, and Pia Houni

The Study

In this article we describe dual leadership as it exists in Finnish professional theatre in the years since 2000. In 2012 there were 46 drama theatres and 10 dance companies subject to Finland’s Theatres and Orchestras Act, plus the National Opera and the National Theatre. State funding of regularly operating professional theatres and orchestras is based on the Act, which determines public subsidies for performing arts organizations. In addition, theatres receive municipal funding. State-subsidized professional theatre ranges from large and medium-sized municipal theatres to small but well-established independent theatre companies. In addition to the regularly operating professional theatres, there are numerous other independent theatrical groups that remain outside the legislation. Most directors of institutional theatres have contracts of from two to five years, while some contracts are permanent. Most of the artistic staff of professional theatres have permanent contracts, but the situation is rapidly changing and the proportion of freelance artistic staff is growing (Teatteritilastot/Finnish Theatre Statistics, 2012).

Institutional theatre in Finland, as in most countries, has been dominated by the idea of a single artistic leader. However, this notion has been under question ever since the first Finnish professional theatre was established in 1972, and especially since the independent theatre movement took hold in Finland in the 1970s. Independent theatrical groups questioned the conventional institutions and their management practices. Another new wave of independent theatres appeared in the 1990s, many of them favouring democratic decision-making, a low level of administration and, often, collaborative leadership models (Wilmer and Koski, 2006). In recent years a new type of dual leadership has emerged, especially in medium-sized and small theatres and independent theatrical groups. However, there has been neither systematic research nor popular writing on collaborative leadership in Finnish theatres.

The new variations of dual leadership appeared in Finnish theatre concurrent with increasing professionalization of theatrical management and increasing privatization of municipal theatres. The emergence of these new types of dual leadership may be related to trends and developments in artistic practice. Most of the leaders we interviewed were in their thirties or forties. Some of them can be viewed as members of the new independent theatre generation of the 1990s who received their artistic education in the first decade of the new millennium. These generations are accustomed to process-centred methods and the ideals associated with artistic collaboration. Traditionally, artistic directors and managing directors/CEOs have been recruited separately. In the case of newer leader duos, however, very often the duo is formed before they apply for the position, as a pair, or the duo has founded a theatre together.

Data Collection

Six leader duos were interviewed (which we refer to by number; see Table 1), representing theatres of various sizes and types. All of the duos had been formed by the choice of both individuals and most had gained their position as leader either by founding their own theatre or by applying to a theatre as a duo. Ten interviewees were employees of theatres with a dual leadership model in place. They represented different staff groups: actors, other artistic staff (e.g. costumiers), technical staff and administrative personnel. All had either permanent contracts or temporary contracts for more than one production; none had a production contract.


Dual Leadership in This Study

Figure 1 illustrates the general structure of traditional models of theatre management in Finland and the emergent structures of dual leadership. Table 1 describes the composition, history and division of tasks of each leader duo as well as our assessment of which type of dual leadership each constellation most closely resembles in the categorization of de Voogt and Hommes (2007) and Döös et al. (2008). We provide a descriptive statement to shed further light on each setting. These are not direct quotes but descriptions by the authors.


Next, three case narratives are presented to illustrate how new dual leadership is manifested in our data.

CEO and Artistic Director: Blurring of the Lines (Duo 3)

The formal setting at duo 3’s theatre reflects the traditional division between artistic and managerial responsibilities. In practice, however, the two leaders work differently. They strive to blur the division of tasks and share responsibilities as much as possible. They also share an office and say they want to run the organization together, so they share leadership in practice. The organization previously had one theatre director, so defining roles and responsibilities has taken some effort.

Two Artistic Directors leading in Shifts (Duo 6)

This leader duo, a playwright and an actor, were encouraged to apply together for the leadership position in this medium-sized city theatre. They take turns being the formal leader. The leader who is not in charge at the time can concentrate on artistic work. They speak of “24/7 peer support.” These leaders use their complementary skill sets and personalities in their work. Shifting formal responsibilities from one to the other is challenging, as it requires extensive communication and can cause confusion among stakeholders such as board members.

Two Artistic Directors Leading Together (Duo 1)

These two actors founded an independent theatrical company after working together on various projects. Their ways of cooperation and task division have grown organically. This company is now the largest independent theatre in the area and the duo’s position and work have changed. A very informal leadership has shifted towards the setting of stricter boundaries and a clearer division of duties in order to cope with the challenges of a growing organization. Both leaders are responsible for artistic decision-making, they are in charge of one stage each, and one is responsible for finance and the other for technology, public relations and marketing. Their leadership has become more strategic and less reactive.

Findings: “It is less windy at the top when you are together”

Previous research indicates that dual leaders see this leadership structure as a way of coping with the heavy workload of a leader (Wilhelmson et al., 2006). The leaders in our study cited the benefits of having a colleague with whom to reflect on ideas and discuss difficult situations. The leader duos had two skill sets and two networks available, allowing for greater opportunities and possibilities, as also described by Antrobus (2011). A possible drawback was the time needed to communicate effectively about issues, but this was balanced by the quality of the decisions made, the support received and the insights derived from different perspectives (Wilhelmson et al., 2006). Our interviewees described dual leadership as a way to create more time for concentrating on tasks and a way to “be in two places at one time,” again paralleling the view of Antrobus (2011). Several leaders emphasized the advantage of having a constant critic available, which improved their leadership and the quality of the art they produced. Mutual support and dialogue were cited as among the greatest advantages of the dual leadership structure. As suggested by the literature, the new dual leadership results in leadership that is more than the sum of its parts (Antrobus, 2011).

Denis, Langley and Sergi (2012) call for more attention to the issue of organizing dual leadership, within the duo itself as well as in relation to the organization. The issue of boundaries, meaning the inclusion or exclusion of others in the leadership group, is an interesting one in the theatrical context. According to our sample, boundaries can be both beneficial and problematic.


Although dual leadership has been used as a means to overcome problem situations in arts organizations (de Voogt, 2005), it appears that some problems can be perpetuated by choosing a leadership model that is new and unfamiliar to the organization. At the very least, a new leadership structure will raise questions and require careful preparation.

As suggested in the literature (e.g., Gronn and Hamilton, 2004; Miles and Watkins, 2007), trust is an essential component of successful dual leadership. The duo is an intimate constellation where “extreme honesty” must prevail, as stated by one of the leaders (duo 6) in our study. Another significant aspect of trust is that between the duo and the organization.

In exploring the dual leadership structure of the theatres in our study, we saw that the why is clearly interrelated with the how in the stories about the formation of the leader duos, as each duo has created a form of dual leadership that fitted with their personalities, goals and views on leadership. In the future, it would be beneficial for the understanding of the dynamics of new forms of dual leadership to explore the phenomenon through a wider range of methods and, for example, the careers of young theatre professionals who aspire to lead a theatre. There is anecdotal evidence of potential leaders saying they would not run a theatre alone due to the large number of diverse tasks and responsibilities involved. As the well-being of managers and leaders is often discussed in terms of long hours, fatigue or even burn-out, we see dual leadership as a model that could bring relief to such settings.

In future research it would also be important to account for similar constructs outside the arts sector, such as religious parishes, the medical field and expert organizations where leadership roles are complex and multi-faceted, and explore these settings in a similar manner. For example, private medical practice has often been based on a dual model of medical and economic leadership but as more doctors are earning MBA degrees and becoming involved in the business aspects of the practice, the leadership constellations are changing. The opportunities for constant dialogue, feedback and reflection that a more collaborative dual leadership provides could be very valuable in many organizations.


Antrobus, C., 2011. Two Heads Are Better Than One: What Art Galleries and museums Can Learn From the Joint Leadership Model in Theatre. Research paper. London: Clore Leadership Programme. Accessed 26 March 2015 at http://www.claireantrobus.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/twoheads_7mar.pdf.

Denis, J.-L., A. Langley and V. Sergi. 2012. “Leadership in the Plural.” Academy of Management Annals, Vol. 6, no 1, p. 211-283.

de Voogt, A., 2005. “Dual Leadership as a Problem Solving Tool in Arts Organizations.” Management and Organizations, Vol. 9, no 1, p. 17-22.

de Voogt, A. And K. Hommes. 2007. “The Signature of Leadership: Artistic Freedom in Shared Leadership Practice.” John Ben Sheppard Journal of Practical Leadership, Vol. 1, no 2, p. 1-5.

Döös, M., M. Hanson, T. Backström and L. Wilhelmson. 2008. Leadership Co-operation: The Existence of Sharing Managers in Swedish Work Life. Paper presented at University Forum for Human Resource Development. Accessed 1 July 2014 at http://www.ufhrd.co.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/15-1_doos_hanson_backstrom_wilhelmson.PDF.

Gronn, P., and A. Hamilton. 2004. “ ‘A Bit More Life in the Leadership’: Co-principalship as Distributed Leadership Practice.” Leadership and Policy in Schools, Vol. 3, no 1, p. 3-35.

Miles, S.A., and M.D. Watkins. 2007. “The Leadership Team: Complementary Strengths or Conflicting Agendas?” Harvard Business Review, Vol. 85, no 4, p. 90-97.

Teatteritilastot/Finnish Theatre Statistics, 2012. Helsinki: Teatterin tiedotuskeskus. http://www.tingo.fi/dokumentit/finnish_theatre_statistics_2012_1209131547.pdf.

Wilhelmson, L., M. Döös, T. Backström, K. Bellaagh and M. Hanson. 2006. En studie av parledarskap – sammanfattning. Om faser, arbetssätt och uppfattningar från 14 delade chefer, deras medarbetare och överordnade i Stockholms stad. Stockholm: Arbetslivsinstitutet.

Wilmer, S.E., and P. Koski. 2006. The Dynamic World of Finnish Theatre: An Introduction to Its History, Structures and Aesthetics. Helsinki: Like.

See the full article in the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 17, Number 13 Spring 2015

Breaking Down the Fourth Wall in Arts Management: The Implications of Engaging Users in Decision-Making (Abridged)


by Leila Jancovich


UNESCO defines three types of participation in culture: reception, through attendance at performances and exhibitions; production, through amateur engagement in creative practice; and interaction, through some form of dialogue, often digital, between the arts organization and the participant (Morrone, 2006). Arts management strategies can address all these areas. But what much of the literature shares is an assumption that the deficit lies with the non-participant, in terms of either understanding or opportunities to engage. Strategies to increase participation therefore commonly focus on education programs or concessionary pricing.

However, some argue that the deficit may be in the management of the organization, or the cultural offer, as much as with the recipient (Belfiore et al., 2011). It is argued that the existence of “cultural elites” (Griffiths, Miles and Savage, 2008, p. 198), which have created a level of self-interest and an “interminable circuit of inter-legitimation” within the arts sector (Bourdieu, 1984, p. 53), may limit the range of voices being heard in decision-making. Attempts to engage those beyond the professional cultural elite are often met with accusations of crass populism (Tusa, 2000), which may be the greatest barrier to increasing participation.


This article examines the levers and barriers with respect to introducing participatory decision-making in arts management through a critical analysis of the language used by a range of agents involved in both policy and management. It explores attitudes to the participation agenda in general and participatory decision-making in particular, alongside a managerial analysis of a case study of participatory decision-making in practice.

The data collected and analyzed for the research include the results of a review of grey literature produced by national arts policy-makers, a survey of a selection of local authorities and a case study. Eighty applications from arts organizations that applied for Arts Council England funding in 2010 were also examined, to assess the variety of interpretations of the participation agenda by different applicants.


A survey questionnaire was sent to arts officers at a selection of 20 local authorities that had identified themselves as having an interest in participation by adopting the national cultural indicator (DCMS, 2008). Also, in-depth one-to-one interviews were conducted with a range of arts professionals. The sample comprised six policy-makers from central and local government.

All interviewees were asked to define what they understood by “participation” and comment on how important they thought it was in the arts, and why. Finally, they were asked for their personal views on the pros and cons of participatory decision-making.

Also, in-depth one-to-one interviews were conducted with a range of arts professionals. The sample comprised six policymakers from central and local government, including one former minster for culture; nine Arts Council England staff members; and nine arts managers or consultants.

The case of Contact, located in Manchester, UK was cited repeatedly in the in-depth interviews as the most successful example of participatory decision-making in the arts. It was therefore selected as a case study to examine the nature of the perceived “success” and to consider broader implications for arts managers.

Participatory Decision-Making in Practice: A Case Study of Contact in Manchester

Contact Theatre started life in the 1970s out of the University of Manchester. For many years it existed as a “repertory theatre in bright colours” (Arts Council England officer), attracting school parties to productions using set texts from the school curriculum. After a major refurbishment a new artistic director, John McGrath, took over in 1999. McGrath stayed with the organization for 10 years. His aim, influenced by his background in both experimental theatre and youth work in Brazil, New York, Liverpool and East London, was to make the venue more contemporary in style, more diverse in outlook and more inclusive in atmosphere.


Contact Theatre in Manchester, UK. (Photo by Joel Chester Fildes.)

In all the interviews conducted, both within the organization and across the city, there was an overwhelming sense that under McGrath’s tenure the organization had gone through a transformation, to what is now described as a cross-art-form laboratory. According to its business plan (Contact, 2011), it has significantly higher engagement by ethnic minorities and a wider socio-economic mix than venues elsewhere in the city: 36% of its theatre audiences, 57% of its workshop participants and 29% of its board are from black or minority ethnic backgrounds. In addition, 65% of its audiences and 93% of its workshop participants are aged 13 to 30. This is in stark contrast to average theatre audiences in England, which have been found to be predominantly white and middle-aged, with the under-30s being the least likely to attend (Chan et al., 2008).

Contact was said to have “a real street presence” (local artist), outside the theatre as well as within. All the staff, including the artistic director, were said to be accessible and to reflect a deep knowledge and understanding of a wide range of cultural practices, not just theatre. The ethos within the building was described as creating “a place to get involved” (participant) or a “hub, where a lot of young people feel comfortable going into and just hanging out” (participant). As a result, there is an informal dialogue on a regular basis between staff and users.

It was said that, under McGrath, this led “organically” to involving people in decisionmaking, asking for volunteers from among those using the building to sit on decision-making panels or to attend and review theatrical shows that might be brought to the venue. There were no criteria for selection other than ensuring that the same faces did not sit on panels each time. Also, whenever possible the theatre paid the young people taking part, the aim being to ensure that a large number of people were engaged in such processes and that their voices informed artistic choices. As a result, many young people at Contact were said to have also developed their skills and some of those interviewed had gained their first employment through the theatre.


Contact staff and young people in consultation around Contact’s £6.65million capital redevelopment project. (Photo courtesy of Contact Theatre.)


Many of the arts managers interviewed believed that the arts are not slow adopters of participatory decision-making and that this practice is common in the arts. One person believed that all arts organizations are involving the public in decision-making more now than ever. However, when asked to name examples one interviewee acknowledged that “we use the same five examples” (Arts Council England officer) whenever discussing participatory decision-making. Often, Contact was the only name people could think of where the practice is embedded in the management of the organization. Other examples tended to be galleries and theatres involving the public in short-term co-curation projects rather than in budgeting or management.

Some of the interviewees argued that there is no evidence the public want to be involved in how arts organizations are managed. However, public value research in the United Kingdom found that public consultation called for not only greater transparency in how decisions in the arts were made, but also greater involvement in decision-making processes (Opinion Leader, 2007).

Management Implications

The above findings suggest that both artistic practice and profile of participants may be transformed through participatory decision-making processes, which are essential if the arts are to be “more relevant to the culture of the country – the actual culture of the country, not what [arts managers] think is the culture of the country” (arts policy commentator). But this is not an easy process: the decision-making process is crucial to the outcomes.

There was a widely held view that participatory decision-making is most effective when “people genuinely want to change the power relationships in the organization [and] expect the outcomes to be different [from what they are]” (government adviser). When the process is short term, as when participants are invited to co-curate an exhibition or season of work, there is evidence that they are effective in building public value but not in influencing organizational change. Therefore, such processes may be most transformative when embedded across the organization and spread over the long term.

However, it was apparent that those with little or no experience with such practices are often resistant to or fearful of the impact of widening the range of voices through which decisions are made. In contrast, there was acceptance of such practices among those who had experience working with the public. This makes a powerful case for developing small, project-based experiments within arts organizations in order to build the capacity and confidence of arts managers in delivering such programs.

Over the longer term, however, the challenge is for arts managers to embrace the possibilities of participatory decision-making and, rather than replicating existing models, try to find their own way to implementing it within their organizations and break down the fourth wall, which often acts as a barrier between the organization and its public, whoever they might be.


Belfiore, E., C. Bunting, L. Gibson, A. Gilmore, F. James, A. Miles, J. Milling, S. Stannage and K. Schaefer. 2011. AHRC Communities, Culture and Creative Economies Development Project “Understanding Everyday Participation – Articulating Cultural Values” Literature Review. Manchester: Center for Economic and Sociocultural Change.

Bourdieu, P. 1984. Distinction. New York: Routledge.

Chan, T.W., J. Goldthorpe, E. Keaney and A. Oskala. 2008. Attendance and Participation in Theatre, Street Arts and Circus in England: Findings From the Taking Part Survey. London: Arts Council England.

Contact. 2011. Our Journey. Manchester: Author.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2008. Technical_Note_NI11. [Online.] London: Author. Accessed 1 June 2011 at www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/Technical_Note_NI11_FINAL.pdf.

Griffiths, D., A. Miles and M. Savage. 2008. “The End of the Cultural Elite?” Sociological Review, Vol. 56, p. 187-209.

Morrone, A. 2006. Guidelines for Measuring Cultural Participation. Montreal: UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

Opinion Leader. 2007. Arts Council England, Public Value Deliberative Research. London: Author.

Tusa, J. 2000. Art Matters. London: Methuen.

See the full article in the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 18, Number 1, Fall 2015

Value Creation by and Evaluation of US Arts Incubators (Abridged)


By Linda Essig

Until recently – either within the business discipline of entrepreneurship studies or across the disciplines of arts and cultural policy or community development – there has been little research on arts incubators, their strategic goals, their forms and funding models, or their evaluation methods. A review of extant research suggests that arts incubators play a role in early-stage development of arts-based enterprises and arts organizations as well as capacity-building for individual artists (Essig 2014; Gerl 2000). Arts incubators may also serve a community development function (Grodach 2011; Phillips 2010). This study asks three questions: How do arts incubators of various types create value for their stakeholder communities? How do arts incubators evaluate their success at creating the value? What is the relationship between the evaluation methods and strategic priorities of arts incubators?


Participants practicing their elevator pitch at Center for Cultural Innovation’s ART>NET>WORK workshop. June, 2017. Los Angeles, CA. (Photo: John Endow)

Through a qualitative cross-case analysis of four arts incubators of different types, the research opens the black box of incubator operations to find that arts incubators create value for client artists and arts organizations through both direct service provision and indirect echo effects, but that the provision of value to communities or systems is attenuated and largely undocumented. Despite issues surfaced through the study, arts incubators remain a potentially impactful tool for supporting cultural entrepreneurship. This article addresses potential policy outcomes of arts incubators as articulated in the literature, the ways in which arts incubators deliver services to their stakeholders, and the value that is created from that service delivery. Then, drawing on the cross-case analysis, it considers smart practices or best practices for value generation and evaluation in arts incubators.

Case Studies
The four case study subjects were chosen purposively to represent four different types of incubator (artist-serving, creative entrepreneur-serving, arts organization-serving, community-serving); geographic range (Pacific Northwest, Mid-Atlantic, California); and sectoral diversity (public, non-profit, private). Site visits were made to each of the four incubators, during which incubator leadership, staff, clients and supporters were interviewed and site observations conducted. Interview transcripts, published materials, observation notes and internal documents provided by the programs constitute the data for analysis.

The value proposition of Arlington County Arts Incubator in Arlington, VA is “to provide free space and services to arts organizations so that they can focus on organizational development and programming excellence.” Intersection of the Arts in San Francisco, CA has a broader range of services, including providing space for the development and production of artistic/creative products; space for the exhibition, performance or sale of artistic products; cooperative marketing; centralized business services; business classes or business training; arts business informational resources; and, most significantly, fiscal sponsorship. The Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI) serves individual artists throughout the state of California from its offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco.  CCI’s mission is “to promote knowledge sharing, networking and financial independence for individual artists and creative entrepreneurs by providing business training, grants, and incubating innovative projects that create new program knowledge, tools and practices for artists in the field.”1 Mighty Tieton is a loose affiliation of business entities located in the small rural community of Tieton, Washington. Mighty Tieton LLC owns a renovated fruit warehouse that is home to several creative businesses and a gallery space, and is one of the few commercial (for-profit) incubator enterprises identified in the typology research (Essig 2014) and provides space and informal business-planning advice to creative businesses and other businesses in town.


Tieton Mosaic. (Courtesy of Mighty Tieton.)

Cross-Case Analysis
Arts incubators provide services to artists, arts organizations and creative enterprises. Analysis of the four cases indicates that the value created by arts incubators lies not in the services delivered per se but, rather, in the positive effect of such services on the ability of stakeholders to achieve their objectives by lowering barriers, conferring legitimacy, cushioning risk and, in some cases, enhancing individual or organizational self-sufficiency. The incubators have some characteristics in common. In all cases, the incubator plays some part in lowering barriers to entrepreneurial action and helps its clients, directly or indirectly, to connect their means with their ends (see Essig 2015; Shane and Venkatataman 2000). Differences are observed in strategic priorities and organizational culture. These differences are evidenced in the ways in which the organizations evaluate their own success and that of their clients. There are also similarities – for example, for the most part evaluation takes place at the client level rather than at the program or organizational level.

Several themes and characteristics emerge from a look across all four cases: arts incubators are in a state of change; arts incubator affiliation provides a “seal of approval”; arts incubators provide a safety net against risk; arts incubators strive to support artist or client group self-sufficiency but are not always successful; success is defined and measured locally; evaluation is considered important but is implemented inconsistently.

Evaluating Arts Incubator Success
Business incubator evaluation tends to focus on the assessment of firms within incubators rather than on the incubators themselves (see Mian 2014). The same appears to be true of arts incubators. In general, evaluation processes occur at the client level, where the success of the incubator is measured by the success of its clients rather than at the level of the incubator programs or in relation to their strategic goals.

Recommendations and Conclusions
Arts incubators, like many small organizations, tend to look retrospectively at outputs rather than at the processes that convert inputs into tangible impacts, or means into ends. Despite these issues, arts incubators remain a potentially impactful tool of cultural policy if their processes and activities align with their strategic goals and if those processes and activities are assessed formatively and summatively. The primary recommendation is that arts incubators adopt a program of formative and summative assessment that can be used to foster organizational learning and lead to evidence-based decision-making.


My primary recommendation is that arts incubators adopt a program of formative and summative assessment that can be used to foster organizational learning and lead to evidence-based decision-making. Table 3 shows the variables that can be evaluated at the process, output and value-added levels across the strategic priorities articulated by the incubator stakeholders.

Finally, the only way to really know if an incubator is creating lasting value is to track the value-added (or “impact”) variables over time. This requires commitment on the part of the organization to build evaluation processes into its operations, gather data on a regular basis, analyze those data, and synthesize the results.

cciarts.org/Angie_Kim.html (accessed 20 July 2015)

Essig, L. 2014. Arts incubators: A typology. Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society 44(3), 169-80.

Essig, L. 2015. Means and ends: A theory framework for understanding entrepreneurship in the US arts and culture sector. Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society 45(3), 227-46.

Gerl, E. 2000. Incubating the arts: Establishing a program to help artists and arts organizations become viable businesses. Anthens, OH: NBIA Publications.

Grodach, C. 2011. Art spaces in community and economic development: Connections to neighbourhoods, artists, and the cultural economy. Journal of Planning Education and Research 31(1), 74-85.

Mian, S. 2014. 15 business incubation and incubator mechanisms. Handbook of research on entrepreneurship: What we know and what we need to know, A. Foyelle, ed. (pp. 335-66). Cheltenham, UK, and Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.

Phillips, R.J. 2010. Arts entrepreneurship and economic development: Can every city be “austintatious”? Towards a psychology of entrepreneurship: An action theory perspective. Foundations and Trends® in Entrepreneurship 6(4), 239-313.

Shane, S., and S. Venkataraman. 2000. The promise of entrepreneurship as a field of research. Academy of Management Review 25(1), 217-26.

See the full article in the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 20, Number 2, Winter 2018

Consumer Perceptions of Arts Organizations’ Strategies for Responding to Online Reviews (Abridged)


by Jennifer Wiggins, Chanho Song, Dharti Trivedi, Stephen B. Preece


The shift towards Web-based communication has fundamentally changed the role of critical reviews in consumers’ decisions concerning attendance at arts events. In addition to professional critics, amateur critics and audience members are now influencing consumer decision-making (Bronner and de Hoog 2010). Consumers are reading and posting reviews before and after attending events (Kerrigan and Yalkin 2009), and the reach of online reviews extends far beyond that of reviews in newspapers or on broadcast media (Chen and Xie 2008; Libai et al. 2010). While critical reviews previously had a brief impact and then disappeared from public view, they are now archived online and are available at any time (Dellarocas et al. 2007). Arts organizations that previously could respond to reviews by quoting only positive aspects in their advertising (Basuroy et al. 2003) now must cope with the full text of mixed and negative reviews being available to potential audience members. Arts organizations must choose how to respond to these reviews in the new environment of critique.

While there has been extensive research on the impact of reviews on consumer behaviour, research on organizations’ strategic responses to reviews has been limited. Researchers have found that some response from the company consistently outperforms no response in minimizing negative emotions, creating positive attitudes towards the company, and increasing purchase intentions and future sales.

Yet this may not be the case for the arts. Negative information is a commonplace, expected outcome of the ongoing critique of artistic work by both professional critics and audience members. In this study the authors examine how consumers react to arts organizations’ strategic responses to mixed or negative online reviews.

They conducted two studies to examine four different strategic responses that reflect the strategies identified in previous studies by Johnson and colleagues (2016): offering no response to the review, quoting only the positive aspects of the review, posting a link to the full text of the review, and inviting consumers to respond to the review and thus attempting to engage them in a dialogue. The studies used two different website designs with the same information and rated each on four seven-point semantic differential items. Participants then read a critic review and responded to three seven-point semantic differential items.

Results of Study

Study 1 found that consumers react differently to strategic responses and that their preferences lean more towards full disclosure of critic reviews. Quoting positive aspects of the critic review led to higher scepticism and lower trust, ultimately leading to more negative attitudes towards the response and the theatre. In contrast, the strategies of posting a link to the full text of the review or inviting consumers to respond to the review led to lower scepticism, higher trust, and ultimately to more positive attitudes towards the response and the theatre. Surprisingly, this did not vary with the genre of the theatre, and it did not appear to have an effect on consumers’ likelihood of attending the play.


Study 1: Traditional Web Site

Study 2 suggested that consumers viewed responses to critic and consumer reviews differently. For the critic reviews, linking to the full text and inviting consumers to respond were viewed equally positively, while offering no response was viewed only slightly more positively than quoting the positive aspects of the review. For consumer reviews, altering the review by quoting only the positive aspects led to the most negative response, with higher scepticism, lower trust, and more negative attitudes towards both the response and the theatre. Inviting consumers to respond to the review was still generally viewed positively, but also led to an increase in scepticism towards the response. Offering no response did not lead to less trust in the theatre or to a less positive attitude towards the theatre. This suggests that consumers perceive the best response to a consumer review to be to make it available unedited and not offer a response from the theatre or invite responses from other consumers.


Study 2: Contemporary Web Site


These findings suggest that consumers do react differently to different strategies for responding to critique. The modern approach of altering or quoting from reviews generated distrust and scepticism and resulted in more negative attitudes towards the organization, while the postmodern strategy of providing access to the full text of reviews was viewed positively and led to more positive attitudes towards the organization.

While consumers do engage in communication among themselves and respond to each other’s comments on performances, it seems that participation of the organization in this dialogue is viewed as a violation of norms or expectations and not as an attempt to engage the audience.

Finally, in the postmodern environment of ubiquitous critique from multiple sources, consumers do not necessarily expect organizations to respond. Indeed, given the prevalence and availability of critique, particularly online, consumers may not perceive a need for organizations to engage directly with amateur critique or become part of the consumer dialogue.

Perhaps the most interesting finding is that none of the response strategies had any impact on consumers’ likelihood of attending the play. Fear of a decrease in purchase intention, and subsequently ticket sales, is what drives the inclination to respond to negative reviews. Our results suggest that this concern may be exaggerated in the current review environment. Interestingly, consumers’ attendance decisions also did not appear to be highly influenced by the review itself, as rates for reported likelihood of attending were relatively high for the general population. Also, as the impact of a single negative review has decreased in the postmodern online environment of critique, there may no longer be a need to craft a strategic response to avoid a decrease in ticket sales.


Image: stagemilk.com

These findings have clear implications for managers of arts organizations. Consumers are likely to reward arts organizations for providing open, unedited access to reviews and for engaging consumers in a dialogue surrounding a mixed or negative professional review. Organizations are likely best served by providing their most committed attendees with full access to reviews and enabling their audience to come to their defence if necessary.

The most important consideration, given the results of this study, are the long-term reputational advantages of open, transparent, genuine communication versus short-term transactional messages. Consistent and successful execution of this strategy over time will arguably encourage longer-term audience loyalty as well as an inclination towards other beneficial relationship support such as donations and sponsorships.

These results also suggest that audiences ultimately make up their own minds about what they want to attend instead of blindly reacting to reviews. The role of promotional efforts may need to evolve from one of convincing potential attendees that the presentation will be appealing to one of helping them know and understand what is being presented, enabling them to decide whether it will appeal to their tastes. This approach could engender a sense of trust and goodwill among potential attendees, reinforcing the message that audience well-being is the foremost concern over the long term.

The full study data and results can be downloaded from the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 20, Number 1 – Autumn 2017.

Basuroy, S., S. Chatterjee and S.A. Ravid. 2003. How critical are critical reviews? The box office effects of film critics, star power, and budgets. Journal of Marketing 67(4), 103‑17.

Bronner, F., and R. de Hoog. 2010. Consumer‑generated versus marketer‑generated websites in consumer decision making. International Journal of Market Research 52(2), 231‑48.

Chen, Y., and J. Xie. 2008. Online consumer review: Word‑of‑mouth as a new element of marketing communication mix. Management Science 54(3), 477‑91.

Dellarocas, C., X. Zhang and N.F. Awad. 2007. Exploring the value of online product reviews in forecasting sales: The case of motion pictures. Journal of Interactive Marketing 21(4), 23‑45.

Johnson, J.W., S.B. Preece and C. Song. 2016. How are arts organizations responding to critique in the digital age? Arts and the Market 6(1), 17-32.

Kerrigan, F., and C. Yalkin. 2009. Revisiting the role of critical reviews in film marketing. In Mashing‑up culture: The rise of user‑generated content, W.E. Hemmungs and M. Ryman, eds. (pp. 169‑86). Uppsala: Uppsala University.

Libai, B., R. Bolton, M.S. Bugel, K. de Ruyter, O. Götz, H. Risselada and A.T. Stephen. 2010. Customer‑to‑customer interactions: Broadening the scope of word of mouth research. Journal of Service Research 13(3), 267‑82.

Portrait of a Star: National Gallery of Victoria (Abridged)


by Ruth Rentschler, Kerrie Bridson, and Jody Evans


The Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria. Photo: Trevor Mein

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne, Australia, is a “star” art museum whose mission is to illuminate life by collecting and presenting great art. “Star” museums are characterized as providing a total visitor experience as funded entities that make a difference by attracting tourists and local visitors to the city in which they are located. Unlike the great prominence of superstar museums [1] [2], which is achieved through tourism, the NGV’s prominence is among its local population: 70% of its visitors live in Victoria and 30% are from interstate or overseas (L. Sassella, personal communications, 25 March 2007), whereas for superstar museums such as the Louvre the visitor percentages are reversed.

The NGV offers a total experience to its visitors through commercial outlets such as cafés, restaurants and shops; offers exceptional architecture to its visitors; and relates its offerings to events in history, politics, film and contemporary life. The strategic orientation of the Gallery increasingly emphasizes visitor demands in organizational structure, collection hang and special exhibitions.

In 1999 the NGV welcomed a new director, Dr. Gerard Vaughan, straight from the British Museum, where he had earned a strong reputation as fundraiser extraordinaire. Under his leadership, the NGV has undergone a process of reconceptualization, culminating in its branding strategy.

Branding in a Competitive Landscape

The Gallery operates in a competitive landscape. It is required to fulfil a public mandate as well as being accountable to a range of stakeholders, such as governments, boards of trustees, curators (as “keepers” of the objects), benefactors and the public [3].

Due to these complexities, the NGV mixes a traditional functional role with a new purposive role [4]. The functional role relates to activities performed in the museum and is object-based: to collect, preserve and display objects [5]. The more recently assumed purposive role relates to the intent, vision or mission of the Gallery, where the focus is on leadership and visitor services: to serve society and its development by means of study, education and enjoyment [6].

This new role can be seen as a catalyst for organizational change, which incorporates the adoption of brand values and practices that focus on people [7].

Brand Orientation

The NGV has reached beyond the marketing concept and embraced a brand orientation.

Brand orientation places strategic importance on brand, beyond the immediate goal of satisfying customer needs and wants. It is a fusion of the historic brand concept and the business orientation literature: embedding branding within the organization to ensure its effectiveness [8].

Brands are integrated with the NGV’s other tangible and intangible resources [9], which form the base for the institution’s core processes.  Branding, therefore, becomes an integrative device within the institution that aligns its capabilities and resources in order to meet external factors and demands [10] [11] [12].

The development of a strong brand orientation requires a change in organizational culture, decision-making processes and resource allocation. Barriers may encompass both beliefs and actions that impede brand development. Such barriers include a lack of financial resources, time constraints, perceived lack of relevance and a short-term focus on sales activities.

The emergence of brand orientation as a business orientation in the Gallery may be driven in part by significant changes in the environment. The leisure sector faces strong competition from new venues, destinations and attractions. It is now accepted that museums have both traditional competitors in other cultural institutions and competitors within the larger leisure arena, including retail and experiential entertainment venues. Coupled with this is a sophisticated and demanding audience base [13] that has more information access than ever before.

Museums have a curatorial orientation, where the priority is excellence in scholarship through the collection, exhibition, preservation, research and study of objects [7] [14]. While for decades collections were a key dimension predicting museum performance, the emphasis is now shifting to visitor needs and satisfaction [15]. Museums’ second imperative is, therefore, a commercial orientation.


Glass ceiling by Leonard French, NGV International. Photo: National Gallery of Victoria.


The Gallery’s decision-making is not dominated by branding, as the NGV is first and foremost an art institution with a clear mission and vision as an institution. [But] the NGV views brand orientation holistically and focuses on brand values and practices across the institution as a means of engaging with its external market and audience. The visitor is placed at the centre of the institution’s strategic thinking and operations, encompassing its values, behaviours and practices; the brand is used as a compass for many organizational decisions.

A dominant theme that emerged is that, over the last decade, branding activities and the brand in general have become higher on the institution’s list of priorities. Strategies were being crafted around building the institution’s name as a brand, sophisticated brand architectures were being established, resources were being allocated to both internal and external brand building, and tracking brand health was emerging as an important performance metric. This all suggests a new focus on the brand as part of a cultural revolution within the institution. It is important to note that using the brand as a compass for decision-making does not equate with the marketing function of dictating collection and exhibition decisions.

The study showed drivers (bridge, leadership, external pressure, part of the consumer’s psyche) and impediments (funding, strong curatorial orientation, deeply entrenched attitudes) to brand orientation.


The first conclusion that can be drawn relates to the need for museums to reconcile an internal curatorial focus with the commercial imperatives of operating in a broad leisure market. A number of authors refer to the debate on whether a museum should be focused on spiritual enrichment/education or on fun/entertainment [16]. Because of this debate, the relationship between museums and marketing can best be described as “complicated”, which may explain why museums are rarely referred to as brands.

The second conclusion extends the first. Museums operate as brands in a highly competitive leisure environment. In contrast to defining the NGV by its function, our view of the NGV builds upon purposive definitions regarding the Gallery’s intent, mission and vision [15].

The implications for museum managers are the ability to identify how brand orientation manifests itself within their institution. If museums seek to establish a strong brand orientation, they must devote resources to establishing the brand as a dominant organizational philosophy that guides all decision-making. In addition, brand-oriented museums must establish the brand as a distinctive asset that communicates relevance and accessibility and invests in value-adding initiatives that enable the institution to connect with visitors on a truly symbolic level.

The full article can be downloaded from the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 13, Number 2 – Winter 2011.

[1] Frey, B. 1998. “Superstar Museums: An Economic Analysis.” Journal of Cultural Economics, Vol. 22, no 2/3, p. 113-125.

[2] Gombault, A. 2002. “Organizational Saga of a Superstar Museum: The Louvre.” International Journal of Arts Management, Vol. 4, no 3, 72-84.

[3] Rentschler, R. 2002a. The Entrepreneurial Arts Leader: Cultural Policy, Change and Reinvention. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press.

[4] Weil, S.E. 1990. The Proper Business of the Museum: Ideas or Things? Rethinking the Museum and Other Meditations. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.

[5] Noble, J.V. 1970. “Museum Manifesto.” Museum News, April, p. 17–20.

[6] Besterman, T. 1998. “Saying What Museums Are For – and Why It Matters.” Museums Journal, Vol. 98, no 4, p. 37.

[7] Gilmore, A., and R. Rentschler. 2002. “Changes in Museum Management: A Custodial or Marketing Emphasis?” Journal of Management Development, Vol. 21, no 10, p. 745–760.

[8] Rubinstein, H. 1996. “ ‘Brand First’ Management.” Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 12, no 4, p. 269–280.

[9] Doyle, P. 2001. “Building Value-Based Branding Strategies.” Journal of Strategic Marketing, Vol. 9, no 4, p. 255–268.

[10] de Chernatony, L. 1999. “Brand Management Through Narrowing the Gap Between Brand Identity and Brand Reputation.” Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 15, no 1–3, p. 157–179.

[11] Ind, N. 1998. “An Integrated Approach to Corporate Branding.” Journal of Brand Management, Vol. 5, no 5, p. 323–329.

[12] Mosmans, A., and R. Van der Vorst. 1998. “Brand Based Strategic Management.” Journal of Brand Management. Vol. 6, no 2, p. 99–110.

[13] Burton, C., and C. Scott. 2003. “Museums: Challenges for the 21st century.” International Journal of Arts Management, Vol.  5, no 2, p. 56–68.

[14] Kotler, N., and P. Kotler. 2000. “Can Museums Be All Things to All People? Missions, Goals, and Marketing’s Role.” Museum Management and Curatorship, Vol. 18, no 3, p. 271–287.

[15] Rentschler, R., and A. Gilmore. 2002. “Museums: discovering Services Marketing.” International Journal of Arts Management, Vol. 5, no 1, p. 62–72.

[16] McLean, F. 1995. “Future directions for Marketing in Museums.” European Journal of Cultural Policy, Vol. 1, no 2, p. 355–368.

The Impact of Service Elements on the Artistic Experience: The Case of Classical Music Concerts (Abridged)


By Antonella Carù, Bernard Cova

A trend in the field of marketing is to analyze consumers’ growing preference for being immersed in a thematic setting instead of being offered a finished product.[1] [2] [3] [4]

Ivars Taurins as Herr Handel in Tafelmusik's Sing-Along Messiah. Photo: Gary Beechey

Ivars Taurins as Herr Handel in Tafelmusik’s Sing-Along Messiah. Photo: Gary Beechey

Above and beyond this particular concept, today’s marketing is being driven by a host of new theoretical constructs ranging from experiential marketing[5] [6] to the idea that immersion can be used as a way of designing consumers’ extraordinary experiences.[7] If there is one type of consumer experience where the immersion construct is (and has long been) frequently used, it is the artistic one.[8] In the ideal, this type of experience is akin to diving into the deep end of a pool – it is a total immersion that will transform the individual. In other words, the artistic experience belongs to the category of so-called aesthetic experiences[9] [10] and is a fundamentally embodied one.[11] But as demonstrated so impressively by researchers focusing on the artistic experience[12] [13] and on the appropriation work that must be undertaken[14] [15], immersion can be difficult to achieve – particularly in the case of avant-garde or classical works that from the outset establish a certain distance from the general public, especially if presented within the confines of a designated environment such as a concert hall.

The purpose of the study is to identify those service elements that influence an individual consumer’s immersion in an arts experience.

The “appropriation of space – be it public or private – is tantamount to acting on something that exists outside of yourself, the goal being to make it your own and to recognize your own position within this space”.[16]

Such an approach suggests that consumers summon up certain competencies largely because they wish to become the main builders and co-creators of a given artistic experience[17] and do so by developing a multidimensional (i.e., not only physical but also mental, emotional and spiritual) “home.” Thus, immersion exists when the consumer is able to enact the artistic experience by means of so-called appropriation methods or operations that will allow him/her to minimize or avoid distancing.research-fig1

This metaphorical approach allows us to re-situate the main space-appropriation operations within a theoretical framework capable of accounting for the particular type of appropriation that is at stake in a given artistic experience. The framework shown in Figure 1 can be explained in this way:

Nesting. The individual feels at home because s/he isolates a part of the particular artistic experience, a part that is familiar to him/her because of his/her accumulated experience and foothold in it. The individual will often find comfort in sticking to a single track, instrument or piece of art that s/he tries to control by pushing aside anything else that crops up in the experiential framework.

Investigating. Starting from the nest that has been built in this fashion, the individual explores new elements in order to develop her/his points of anchorage and control (signposts) – for example, by looking through a CD for songs s/he already knows, listening to them again and then listening to the tracks just before or just after them; this enhances knowledge of the context of the particular artistic experience whilst progressively extending one’s territory.

Stamping. The individual attributes a specific meaning to an artistic experience or to a portion of it. This will not be the meaning commonly ascribed to the experience but a personal one, built on the foundations of the individual’s own referents, history and so on. For example, someone invited to a concert by a friend might feel that “for me this is not an 18th-century classical music concert but Toni’s concert, since it was she who invited me to it.” Here, the individual uses creativity to play around with the experience’s context subjectively, whilst imbuing it with his/her own personal meaning.

The consumer is now in a position to access the artistic experience, in whole or in part, thereby becoming immersed.

It should be noted that the processes used to access an experience and/or to apprehend the role of antecedents may diverge due to the varying intensity of the different artistic experiences. Visiting a museum, listening to a concert and watching a film are different processes, so the concepts being analyzed can be applied in various ways. In fact, in each of these experiences the individual’s level of participation will vary; it can be active or passive, and thus have a different effect. One’s involvement/participation will vary as well; it can be physical, intellectual or both.[18] Control over the experience will also vary – for example, in terms of the timing of the event – or else there exists the possibility that only some of the stimuli to which one is being submitted will be selected.

Analysis revealed that the three operations making up the appropriation cycle of an artistic experience can be broken into sub-operations that enrich the overall model. In particular, nesting appears to present a wide range of sensations linked to the search for anchors, both before and during a performance. For the investigating operation, all reports reveal a path lying somewhere between the description of events and the discovery of something. Finally, two activities typified stamping: the ascribing of significance to elements in the experience, and the forming of impressions about the experience itself.


Twelve years later, this theory is more relevant today than ever before, and can be applied to many cultural settings. The full article can be downloaded from the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 7, Number 2 – Winter 2005


[1] Firat, A.F., and N. Dholakia. 1998. Consuming People: From Political Economy to Theaters of Consumption. London: Routledge.

[2] Firat, A.F., N. Dholakia and A. Venkatesh. 1995. “Marketing in a Postmodern World.” European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 29, no 1, p. 40-56.

[3] Firat, A.F., and C.J. Shultz. 1997. “From Segmentation to Fragmentation: Markets and Marketing Strategy in a Postmodern Era.” European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 31, no 3/4, p. 187-207.

[4] Goulding, C., A. Shankar and R. Elliott. 2002. “Working Weeks, Rave Weekends: Identity Fragmentation and the Emergence of New Communities.” Consumption, Markets and Culture, Vol. 5, no 4, p. 261-284.

[5] Pine, B.J., and J.H. Gilmore. 1999. The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre and Every Business a Stage. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Press.

[6] Schmitt, B.H. 1999. Experiential Marketing: How to Get Customers to SENSE, FEEL, THINK, ACT and RELATE to Your Company and Brands. New York: Free Press.

[7] Arnould, E., L. Price and G. Zinkhan. 2002. Consumers. New York: McGraw-Hill.

[8] Duhaime, C., A. Joy and C. Ross. 1995. “Learning to ‘See’: A Folk Phenomenology of the Consumption of Contemporary Canadian Art.” In Contemporary Marketing and Consumer Behavior: An Anthropological Sourcebook, J.F. Sherry, ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, p. 351-398.

[9] Csikszentmihalyi, M., and R.E. Robinson. 1990. The Art of Seeing. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum.

[10] Denzin, N.K. 1992. Symbolic Interactionism and Cultural Studies: The Politics of Interpretation. Cambridge: Blackwell.

[11] Joy, A., and J.R. Sherry. 2003. “Speaking of Art as Embodied Imagination: A Multi-sensory Approach to Understanding Aesthetic Experience.” Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 30, September, p. 259-282.

[12] Spranzi, A. 2001. “L’innovazione nel marketing dell’arte: Un caso paradigmatico di economia dell’inovazione.” Sinergie, Rapporto di ricerca, no 11.

[13] Weltzl-Fairchild, A., and L.M. Dubé. 1998. “Le multi-média peut-il aider à réduire la dissonance cognitive?” Publics et Musées, no 13, p. 17-28.

[14] Caune, J. 1999. Pour une éthique de la médiation: le sens des pratiques culturelles. Grenoble: Presses de l’Université de Grenoble.

[15] Ficht, B.T. 2000. À l’ombre de la littérature. Montréal: XYZ.

[16] Serfaty-Garzon, P. 2003a. Chez soi. Les territoires de l’intimité. Paris: Armand Collin, p. 89.

[17] Joy, A., and J.R. Sherry. 2003. “Speaking of Art as Embodied Imagination: A Multi-sensory Approach to Understanding Aesthetic Experience.” Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 30, September, p. 259-282.

[18] Pine, B.J., and J.H. Gilmore. 1999. The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre and Every Business a Stage. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Press.

Subscribers’ Overall Evaluation of a Multi-experience Cultural Service, Tolerance for Disappointment, and Sustainable Loyalty (Abridged)


by Zakia Obaidalahe, Francis Salerno, François Colbert.

Both the core product and the peripheral services can trigger emotions in audience members[i]. Indeed, consumers who experience a positive emotion while attending a concert are likely to recommend the orchestra, while negative emotions tend to produce the opposite effect.

The consumer’s satisfaction can be seen in terms of a chain of events composed of the following elements: Event, Emotions, Trust, Value, Involvement, Satisfaction, Repurchase Intentions, Word-of-Mouth and Recommendation (Figure 1). A positive emotion or evaluation of the core product or the peripheral services and the social environment not only helps build the consumer’s trust, but also creates value in the eyes of the audience. Trust and a perception of value lead to involvement, which, in turn, influences satisfaction. While it is unlikely that a satisfied customer will come back to see the same work a second time, it is likely they will return to see another concert by the same orchestra (repurchase intention) and they may say good things about it (word-of-mouth) and recommend the concert or orchestra to others (recommendation). The opposite is also true: negative emotions in relation to the three dimensions of the cultural offering will diminish trust in the organization and reduce involvement, which in turn leads to dissatisfaction or disappointment.research-article-purchase-repurchase-model

The Importance of Tolerance for Disappointment

The consumption of cultural products carries an inherent risk due to the fact that each new artistic offering is different from the others. For example, a theatre is constantly in the position of offering a new product. However, a theatre subscriber can mitigate potential disappointment by offsetting an experience of a bad performance with other play during the season. Similarly, a negative emotion in relation to the core service (the show) can be offset by the positive emotions triggered by the peripheral services or social interactions experienced during the event.

For example, the works proposed to subscribers of the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago are highly challenging, but subscribers say that they remain loyal to Steppenwolf because even if they don’t like a show, they know they can always count on exceptionally good acting[ii]. In fact, these subscribers identify with the theatre and are willing to tolerate a certain amount of disappointment.

Sustainable subscriber loyalty is thus reflected in two main dimensions: subscription renewal intention and recommendation intention.

Feelings of disappointment generated by bad concerts are tolerated because they are offset by the good concerts, as well as by the positive experiences with peripheral services and social interactions.

The sustainable loyalty that occurs when subscribers renew their subscription and make positive recommendations to others reflects a genuine form of loyalty. This loyalty behaviour can be explained by a combination of emotional, social, individual and situational factors that reflect the multidimensional nature of high art products mentioned earlier.

It is important for managers of organisations that offer season subscriptions to pay special attention to all peripheral services and to social interaction in order to build or maintain subscriber loyalty in spite of the inevitable disappointment subscribers may experience in relation to certain events. Services these managers should focus on include ensuring a hospitable welcome and environment, the comfort of the venue, personalized relations with customers, the creation of a friendly space for gatherings and discussion, food and beverage services, etc.

Managers should also strive to enhance the audience’s experience of the venue as a creator of social ties. Audience members are generally very appreciative of the opportunity to meet with the artists, discuss performances with other audience members and debate with the artistic team, and they derive special satisfaction when they receive a warm welcome from the theatre’s staff. The role of social identification should also be acknowledged by managers through a diversification of audiences in order to counter the traditional image of orchestra concerts as elitist.

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra doing a concert of the soundtrack to the movie Psycho. Photo: Daniel Aulsebrook

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra doing a concert of the soundtrack to the movie Psycho. Photo: Daniel Aulsebrook

Path to fidelity

As shown in Figure 1, customer service is an important component of the aesthetic experience in the arts sector. It is part of a chain of elements that can lead to either a rejection of the work or venue, on the one hand, or loyalty and recommendations to others, on the other hand.

Emotions are generated by three components of the experience: the concert itself, the quality of the peripheral services, and social interaction and the formation of small worlds[iii]. These three components are themselves influenced by the audience’s ability to pass through the appropriation cycle and to integrate the new elements of the performance in their nest[iv]. Similarly, the pro-social values demonstrated by the concert venue tend to have a positive influence on the music lover’s appreciation of the company, particularly in the case of women[v].

All these elements trigger emotions in audience members that lead them to attach value to their experience and, in turn, this value influences their involvement in the venue and builds their trust in the organization.

If this chain is negative, consumers who have a tolerance for disappointment may nonetheless feel satisfied and go back a second time and/or recommend the company to others. On the other hand, if they have no tolerance for disappointment, there is a risk that they could reject the organization.

As we can see, the role of the manager of arts organisations, even if he or she has nothing to do with the work of art itself (this falls under the responsibility of the artistic director), can positively influence the experience of live performance by creating an environment that enhances the experience.

The complete article is published in the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 20, Number 1, Fall 2017.

[i] Palmer, A., & Koenig-Lewis, N. (2010), “Primary and Secondary Effects of Emotions on Behavioural Intention of Theatre Clients”, Journal of Marketing Management, 26(13/14), 1201-1217.

[ii] Ravanas, P. (2006), “Born to Be Wise: The Steppenwolf Theatre Company Mixes Freedom with Management Savvy”, International Journal of Arts Management, 8 (3), 64-76.

[iii] Gainer, B. (1995), “Rituals and Relationships: Interpersonal Influences on Shared Consumption”, Journal of Business Research, 32, 253-260.

[iv] Caru, A., B. Cova, (2005), “The Impact of Service Elements on the Artistic Experience: The Case of Classical Music Concerts.” International Journal of Arts Management, 7(2) 39–55.

[v] Voss, Z.G., V. Cova (2006), “How sex differences in perceptions influence customer Satisfaction: A Study of Theatre Audiences”, Marketing Theory, 6(2), 201-221