Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Kennedy Center Marketing Chief Comes to Town

Kennedy Center For the Performing Arts Marketing Director David Kitto was in town recently to speak to the Cincinnati American Marketing Association Chapter. He says his major challenges are productivity and a fickle media. He measured the productivity equation in revenues. Revenues that are declining, he says, thanks to limited venue seating capacities and the sales of compact discs which impact people's willingness to attended by live performances. He adds this creates a trickle down effect which restricts the number of performances with a limited number of superstars.

The media continues to act indifferent at arts groups with less editorial space devoted to reviews and features. He notices in general the writing of fewer stories that make a difference in inspiring the lives of others.

Sensing the issue of preaching to the choir, Kitto said arts groups, in an effort to balance budgets make the mistake of cutting shows and cutting marketing budgets. Kitto says they have tried to be innovative in opening the Center to new audiences:
  1. Bringing arts organizations from the Greater Washington DC area to their space to teach marketing initiatives;
  2. Catering to audiences who love musicals such as when they staged a series of Stephen Sondheim works, which garnered international publicity;
  3. Hosting international festivals such as the 2010, a celebration of Arab nations and collaborations with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Bolshoi Ballet to name a few.

Kitto says he works closely with the Center's Press Department to target what he calls core and marginal markets on a miniscule budget of $45-50 million. Kitto says his web site (www.kennedycenter.com) was the first to offer indoor virtual tours. They continue to be creative with ideas such as sending bounce back emails to first time ticket buyers to discounted tickets to a future performance.

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