Essay on Purposes of Marketing and Programming in View of Audiences

Published: 2021-07-12
1753 words
7 pages
15 min to read
Sewanee University of the South
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The roles of programming and marketing in live performing arts have developed to closely being intertwined with time, such that these two tasks can be performed by one person. This development can be associated with the growth and technological advancement in this sector that has made these roles easier to perform than they initially were. The underlying purpose of programming and marketing in performing arts is to reach out to the audiences who are the primary target. Audience experience is an essential quality measure in the performing arts industry, particularly concerning possible re-attendance. Radbourne (2009, p.3) argues that the audiences will maintain solid loyalty in cases where the arts performance gives them fulfillment and realization, and that the new arts consumer is on quest for self-actualization where the creative and cultural experience is expected to fulfill a spiritual need that has very little to do with the traditional marketing plans of an arts organization, (p.1). This is to say that programmers and marketers of these live arts have to identify the varied measures and relationships present in the mindset of their audiences to better segment and customize the offering and delivery of service experience which will eventually maximize return on investment (Hume and Sullivan, 2008, p. 312). Further research into the factors that influence customer likelihood of repurchase or re-attendance should also be conducted. The information gathered during these marketing researches act as guiding principles to the programming of a performance item. This shows the tightly knit inter-relationship between programming and marketing.


Marketing is a process that involves creating, communicating, promoting, selling and delivering products or services that have value to the clients. The basis of marketing is to identify customer needs and then satisfy them. This, therefore, calls for market research and advertising. Marketing research as a strategy links the consumer to the marketer through information that is used to define and determine marketing opportunities and drawbacks, monitor performance, and enhance the understanding of marketing process. Programming of the next piece of art will rely heavily on the information collected through the research, focusing more on the opportunities and avoiding the problems identified.


There are several theories that have been used over time in the marketing of performing arts. One of the theories is the Diffusion of Innovation theory by Everett Rogers. Diffusion, as referred in this theory, is the process by which an innovation is relayed via various channels through time to members of a society. The innovation-decision for most members in the social system relies heavily on the innovation decisions of other members in the system. Generally, individuals will adopt an innovation if they are convinced that it will enhance their utility. Due to the uncertainty associated with innovations, this theory considers tendencies of people to take risks and try and adopt new things; and sorts these people in categories based on their tolerance for risk-taking. According to Rogers, marketers can utilize these categories to develop plans that use personal spheres of influence, focusing on establishing relationships and marketing heavily to risk-tolerant people. Bonita Kolb puts this theory into the context of arts in her book titled Marketing for Cultural Organizations. The sector is characterized by innovations that are driven by the constantly changing needs of the audiences for new performances different from those previously experienced. Therefore, this theory puts the innovator on one end at 2.5% of the population, and the different categories of consumers on the other end. The categories include Early Adopters (13.5%), who are easily influenced, by the Innovators, and in turn, influence the Early Majority (34%). The Late majority (34%) needs to be sure that the innovation will be enjoyable for them otherwise they will not attend. Laggard category (13.5%) lack interest in new experiences, and finally, Non-adopters forming 2.5% feel threatened by new experiences and therefore avoid them by all means. Marketing of arts should, therefore, pay important focus on the categories that are more risk-averse through strategies that increase their confidence in the innovation. Since most individuals base their adoption on past experiences, creating pieces that are satisfactory to audiences will increase the rate of re-appearances and attract new consumers through customer referrals.

Another theory that has been applied is the Readiness to Receive theory as discussed by Alan Brown and Jennifer Novak in their work Assessing the Intrinsic Impacts of a Live Performance, 2007. This work, and therefore theory is based on some research work finding that was commissioned by fourteen major university presenters. The theory asserts that an individuals readiness to receive a performing arts experience influences the nature and extent of impacts (p.7). According to the theory, the more audience members know what they are going to experience, the more they will connect to the performance in various ways. Therefore, the marketing team should strategize their marketing plans in such a way that the audience is kept in direct contact with the event information to build excitement and anticipation for the event. Prior and post discussions between the marketers and the audience can help members of the audience to understand what they are about to experience or have just experienced. These events will go a long way in nurturing the relationships between the arts industry and the audience, especially those that are averse about new experiences.


Marketing employs various strategies to meet their goals. One of the marketing strategies commonly applied is the marketing mix strategy that involves 4 Ps namely Product, Price, Promotion and Place (Khan, 2014, p.95). In performing arts industry, a product will refer to the performance or exhibition to be presented to the audience. Price should be set depending on the economic capability of the surrounding community. In most cases, art organizations set higher prices for performances during the weekend which are more desirable and lower prices in the course of the week. Place refers to the location the performance is scheduled to take place, commonly in theater halls. Promotion is the process that connects all the other three factors through communicating to the audience on the product, price, and place. It involves creating publicity, advertising and all the other means of communication to reach the audience. Digital marketing is another strategy in marketing which has made the function of promotion and advertising more effective and a broad range of audience can be reached through the media and social media platforms (Baker and Hart, 2008),. When marketing mix is successfully manipulated, a large audience can be reached and organizational goals of increased attendance and sales achieved.

Programming: Definition and Theories

Programming in performing arts refers to the process of creating and developing a piece of theater work such as a play, to be presented before a certain audience. Programming is the foundation stone for performing arts, and all the decisions revolve around it. When programming, the three factors that are mostly considered are the audience, a varied program and the cost of the play. There exist theories that aid in explaining programming in general. One of the theories is the Critical Theory and Performance also known as Theory of Performing Arts analyzed by Andre Helbo in his book, (Helbo, 2016, p.341-350). The theory discusses a wide genre of art ranging from stage plays, dance- dramas, performing arts, and other genres that fall under performance art. Second is the Theories of Programming Languages which provide a wide and rigorous survey of the theoretical basis for the definition, design, and implementation of programming languages, and of systems for specifying and proving program behavior. Each field under this theory has its specifications and jargon that has to be followed when developing a program. Programming, in this case, will, therefore, employ the performing arts standards and specifications.


To achieve success and attain organizational goals, the management of a performing arts organization has to employ programming strategies befitting their goal. The underlying factors that drive programming strategies include audience development, enhancement of sales, modifications of the organizational image, and innovation. Programmers have to consider information and feedback gathered from the audience concerning their expectations and their previous experiences on past performances. Therefore, one programming strategy is the audience development strategy. Marketing research is an important tool in collecting intelligence on the consumer satisfaction and expectations. Therefore, this function can be utilized for both marketing and programming purposes. The second strategy is the modification of institutional image strategy. Organizations want to market their image as providing quality and updated works so as to win customer confidence and loyalty, thereby increasing their market share. At the same time, they have to follow guidelines and the regulations aligned to them by the law and art bodies. This, therefore, necessitates the programming team to consider the standards as well as the market demand when developing a program.

The third strategy is the enhancement of sales or revenue collection. Among the many goals of business organizations is to make a profit. Theaters are either public or privately owned, and their maintenance incurs costs. Additionally, the performing artists and the overall staff require compensation. Therefore, any program that is developed has to be such that it will attract a large number of audiences thus increasing the number of ticket sales. Exciting performances also fetch higher prices compared to ordinary performances. The last programming strategy focuses on innovation. The technological advancement has come in handy to aid in the area of innovation. Through the internet, there is a wide range of sites and materials that programmers can consult to acquire innovative ideas at the same time testing it with the consumers through marketing research.


For a long time, marketing and programming have been considered as separate functions of art management and therefore, allocated to different teams. However, with time, the boundaries between these two functions have progressively been blurred with many similarities being identified between these two roles. This is to the extent that programming and marketing can now be assigned to one individual or a single team and they will manage them just as fine. Separate theories and strategies about each have been developed and approached differently in the past. However, the underlying factors in these theories and strategies are similar in that they address similar goals in the performing arts industry. For instance, it is evident that both programming and marketing lay great emphasis on the development of the audience. The decisions made in both roles revolve around customer satisfaction, building customer confidence and increasing rates of audience re-attendance. Marketing strategies applied focus on gathering information on the opportunities available and the problems that could have resulted in past performances, all geared towards improving their services to maintain and possib...

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