The study was conducted for the Chicago Community Trust by Peter Linett and Cheryl Slover-Linett of Slover Linett Stragies, an audience research and planning firm in Chicago. Prince Charitable Trusts helped fund the project.
The research, according to Sarah Solotaroff, a CCT senior advisor, is the first to focus on the audience for dance rather than dance companies, and will be presented with a marketing plan based on the results. The survey looked at the differences and similarities, such as gender, age, race, background, and cultural crossover, between dance "attenders" and "non-attenders." Such information could help dance companies to target new audiences more efficiently.
According to the study, women represent 71 percent of the dance audience.
Other study findings suggest that potential audience members are confused by dance terminology such as "modern," "contemporary," and "jazz," which may make it difficult to chose a performance based on their preferences. Questions about cultural crossover: that is, what other cultural events dance audiences are likely to attend: suggest new venue options for dance companies, such as at art galleries or history museums.
The Tribune noted that the recent performances by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at the Chicago Symphony are an example of successful crossover.
Although the dance scene in Chicago appears to be thriving, increasing ticket revenue is an important goal for dance companies, many of which cannot pay salaries to performers or staff, because, according to Linett, charitable giving is on the decline.
The CCT's findings will be presented in a talk called "Get in Step With Chicago Dance Audiences: A Practical Guide for Increasing Ticket Sales" at the Chicago Cultural Center.