An Essential Tool for Arts Non-Profits in NJ

January 9, 2012

By Ann Marie Miller
Executive Director, Art Pride

Smart New Jersey arts organizations use effective tools to learn the who, what, when, why and where about arts patrons. The Jersey Arts List Exchange & Audience Census is a community patron database that houses data from over 50 participating non-profit New Jersey arts organizations. Its goal is to help arts groups grow audiences and boost revenue by identifying a targeted, qualified and focused group of arts consumers through comparative market analysis. After three years of continued growth, the database currently holds information on nearly one million households throughout the region.

Analyzing data and exchanging lists of active patrons is the cheapest and most effective way to augment an organization’s pool of prospective attendees. A community database provides a tool for quickly and easily sharing audience data while offering a pain free way to keep lists clean—free from errors and duplications—all necessary elements of an effective direct mail marketing campaign. A community database also provides an important research tool for learning about arts attendees and their behaviors within the market. Analyses can obtain demographic and psychographic information about patrons as well as information about how attendees interact within and between each participating organization. This type of research can play an important role in advocacy efforts by learning about those who engage (and those who do not engage) in cultural events.

The Art Pride New Jersey Foundation and TRG Arts, through a co-sponsorship with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, partner to provide the Jersey Arts List Exchange & Audience Census as a service to New Jersey’s nonprofit cultural community. TRG Arts manages a number of similar community patron databases in markets across the country including Philadelphia, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston. The Jersey Arts List Exchange & Audience Census is the first of its kind to serve an entire state.

While the deadline for free open enrollment is January 10, cultural groups of all sizes can opt in at any time for a small fee that quickly returns its value. See what arts leaders have to say about the project:

“We’ve been blown away by how much we’re learning about our own patrons! The more time we spend with the data, the more we realize just how much marketing intelligence we have at our disposal. In fact, we plan to start using the List Exchange a lot more aggressively for targeting donors this year.”

—Mary Eileen Fouratt
Executive Director, Monmouth County Arts Council

“The Jersey Arts List Exchange provides my theatre with marketing intelligence on our patrons that would cost me thousands of dollars to acquire any other way. It also serves as the cornerstone of my direct mail campaigns and helps to keep direct mail the most cost-effective way for us to market our productions to arts-savvy patrons throughout the region. This project saves me time and money, period.”

—Rick Engler,
Director of Marketing, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey

For more information on the List Exchange, please follow this link.

Ann Marie Miller is the Executive Director of Art Pride, the premier arts advocacy organization in New Jersey, and a regular contributor to the Dodge blog.