Managing Traditionalism and Flexibility: Subscriptions at New York City-Based Non-Profit Performing Arts Organizations
By: Sara Smigen
Published: 2017
Uploaded: 03/27/2017
Uploaded by: Arts Administration Program
Pockets: Arts Administration Program Theses (Permission Required), Arts Administration: General, Cultural & Urban Planning, Development, Philanthropy, International, Multiculturalism, Visual Arts, Museums, Crafts
Tags: Membership, Performing arts, Subscriptions, Ticketing

Description/Abstract: This thesis examines current practices of creating and implementing season ticket packages at performing arts organizations in New York City. Subscription examples include traditional, day of the week, flexible and “make-your-own,” membership as a subscription format, as well as how arts administrators are adapting these models to meet patron preferences. In pursuit of this, administrators at New York City based chamber music, children’s theater, and opera organizations were interviewed. Interviewees work directly with subscriptions in terms of planning, implementation, and measurement at their respective organizations. While studies and statistics show a decline in subscription numbers, the purpose of the thesis was to determine how this challenge is being dealt with at performing arts organizations. While there are best practices across the board, it was clear in findings that there is not a one size fits all approach to creating effective subscription packages. A philosophy of balancing institutional goals with patron preferences was evident in all stages of the subscription process. When evaluating the role of subscriptions within an institution, how and by whom they are handled is different from organization to organization. It was clear that their function is multifaceted, beyond solely selling tickets. How this is manifested varies across organizations based on programming, organizational size and structure, and logistics. Across the organizations surveyed, there was a shared finding that the most popular subscription perk is the ability to exchange tickets. When discussing the evolution of subscriptions at each organization, flexibility was a resounding commonality.