Audience-development strategies of three university symphony orchestras in South Africa
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This dissertation explored the audience-development strategies of university symphony orchestras in South Africa, which were intended to ensure that audience numbers might stabilise or grow. This is a huge challenge for orchestras when building and maintaining their audience base. The main question that guided the dissertation was: What are the audience-development strategies of three university symphony orchestras in South Africa? To answer this question the dissertation had to be divided into two parts. Part one consisted of a conceptual framework article aimed at answering the first sub-question: What are the existing audience-development strategies for symphony orchestras, as described in the scholarly literature? Part two consisted of a comparative case study article exploring three universities' audience-development strategies. The comparative case study aimed to answer the second sub-question: What themes emerged from the analysis of the data on the audience-development strategies of three university symphony orchestras in South Africa? For this article I drew on the conceptual framework as well as on the open-ended interviews with the conductors and marketing officers of the three participating orchestras for the case study. The two most pressing themes across the case studies concerned were: 1) the lack of funding, and 2) the lack of administrative infrastructure. I found that the participating orchestras' strategies seemed to be the responsibility of their respective marketing officers and depended on the limited capabilities of these marketing officers, and that their audience-development strategies were vague and focused on the short-term. From the study it is evident that to improve sustainability for these orchestras, the marketing officers should acquire sufficient marketing knowledge and should be employed fulltime. The three orchestras should also re-evaluate some of their existing audience-development strategies to facilitate continual growth; this includes creating a sound brand and utilising internet social media. Besides suggesting the relevant benefits of audience-development strategies for symphony orchestras, I also recommend specific activities which the management teams of university orchestras might implement to ensure the growth and retention of their audience base.
- Humanities