Summit 2015, Austin TX
Monday & Tuesday, March 23-24, 2015

Session 11: Tuesday 3:00 Riverside West
Moderator: Timothy Channell

Armen Shaomian
Assistant Professor
University of South Carolina.

Bob Heere
Associate Professor
University of South Carolina.

The Path to Loyalty Among Theater Patrons: The Importance of Interaction and a Sense of Brand Community

This study examines how a “sense of community” among live theater patrons contributes to sustaining a local non-profit entertainment organization. While “commercial” entertainment ventures focus on their marketing and brand recognition, their non-profit counterparts many times struggle with marketing their brand, having difficulty capturing audiences – their consumers.

The study surveyed over 400 theater patrons at an independent regional theatre known for its performance of thought provoking, off-Broadway productions in an otherwise conservative community in the South, to determine if a substantive correlation exists between brand marketing and the development of consumers’ sense of belonging to the organization, making them more likely to return and purchase seasons tickets or become future donors.

The survey asked the patrons about their sense of community with the theater, the perception of existing traditions, rituals and history, the interaction with other patrons before and after the show (more interaction provided for a higher sense of community), their motivation to attend (the importance of the particular show they attended, or to support the theater in general), and their sense of loyalty towards the theater. To measure these constructs, existing scales in marketing, brand community research, and sport marketing were used.

Our results supported the view that the theater was a focal point for community development, and emphasized the importance of interaction for a sense of community with the theater. Consequently, this sense of community contributed to a sense of loyalty towards the theater, and the associated consumer behavior (attendance, donations). Managerial implications mean theater managers are encouraged to allow for extensive interaction between patrons, and between staff and patrons, before and after the show, so patrons can develop a sense of community towards the theater.

The concept and practice of brand community continues to play a larger role in businesses and live entertainment venues as the need to attract consumer’s increases. The outcomes of this study substantiated the concept that brand communities play a vital role in attracting theater or other live entertainment patrons to a specific venue or organization. Furthermore, this identification with live entertainment venues is similar to that of commercial brand loyalties. Demonstrating the existence of a brand community at live performance venues demonstrates the significant ramifications for theaters, as it will allow them to develop strategies to create a more loyal following.

Robert Willey
Director, Music Media Production and Industry
Ball State University

A New Look at Fostering People Skills in Music and Entertainment Programs

There is wide agreement that the music and entertainment field is a people business. What is less clear is how to foster people skills in an audio engineering program where the focus is on developing technical skills and musicianship. One approach for teaching interpersonal skills could be based on a theoretical foundation based on the work of psychologist Angela Duckworth. The non-cognitive skills such as grit and self-control that she has identified as predictors of success in life correlate fairly closely with many of the top-rated characteristics reported by David Tough as being desirable in new hires from audio engineering training schools. This presentation surveys a number of initiatives begun this year in Ball State University’s program to develop communication skills and character strengths.