Performing Arts Holiday Marketing Recipes & José Mateo Ballet Theatre

ArtsBoston has done an admirable job orchestrating The Mayor’s Holiday Special  for performance ticket offers and an inviting layer of dining discounts to people attending shows.  Theater dining discounts are not a new offering, but the waves of group buying options this year have conditioned consumers to shop for a deal and a discount on practically everything.  Some have described the effect of these flurries of offers as “deal fatigue”.  There’s an artful balance to marketing, ticket offers, paying the light bill and staying afloat as non-profit arts entities.  Arts organizations are re-examining their marketing recipes for the holidays and year-round to boost attendance and stay financially stable.  Each has their own measure for print advertising, broadcast, direct mail, sponsorship, web, social media, community engagement, ticket offers and more.

I’d like to give recognition to Scott Fraser, Managing Director of José Mateo Ballet Theatre and an ingredient in their recipe.  Scott recently invited me to a gathering at their space at the Old Baptist Church in Cambridge called “Behind The Mirror”.  It’s conducted twice a month.  This was not a get-’em-in-the-door donor shakedown.  It was a very genuine introduction to the Theatre’s mission including the School, The Performance Company and the Dance for World Community Festival.  Apparently there were other non-profits in attendance to glean best practices from this organization marking a quarter century.  They’re not resting on a 25th year bash,  members of the organization talked consistently about long-term growth and community engagement as part of their recipe.

We left with 3 clear calls to action from  the José Mateo Ballet Theatre:

  • donate items for the performance space and events
  • volunteer
  • expand the organization’s network of friends, ticket buyers and invitees to future “Behind The Mirror” tours

This basic invitation to come in and be introduced by a friend may seem to be old-school in a digital world where Klout scores and the size of friends and followers matter, but this is part of a recipe that is growing  José Mateo Ballet Theatre Company.  Maybe that’s why their production of the Nutcracker flourishes in the competitive bright lights of the likes of Boston Ballet and the Rockettes.


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