Building Audiences for Dance

How Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Pacific Northwest Ballet Are Attracting Millennial Audiences

Building Audiences for Dance

Alvin American Dance Theater and Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) have, with support from The Wallace Foundation, spent the past two seasons conducting market research and testing initiatives designed to attract new millennial audiences. The Ailey company has been testing performance-related social events and investigating different ticket prices with millennials. PNB tested out a special mailing list, events targeting millennials, and used market research to inform the presentation of new dance works in locations new to PNB performances.

What did they learn? What surprises did they uncover? Here are some takeaways from a recent webinar featuring these two organizations:

  • What people say and what they buy are two different things.
  • Younger audiences don’t behave that differently from other audiences.
  • Drink specials are important.
  • Audiences want to feel that they’re getting a good value.
  • Many millennial audiences are interested in traditional programming.

Watch the webinar!

Hear Thomas Cott, senior director of marketing and creative content at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Lia Chiarelli, director of marketing and communications at Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) share what they learned about their target audiences and expand on the lessons they learned over the course of their audience building projects. Both Cott and Chiarelli include practical takeaways for organizations of all sizes.

Interested in more resources on building audiences?
Find more resources on The Wallace Foundation website here.


We accept submissions on topics relevant to the field: advocacy, artistic issues, arts policy, community building, development, employment, engagement, touring, and other topics that deal with the business of dance. We cannot publish criticism, single-company season announcements, and single-company or single artist profiles. Additionally, we welcome feedback on articles. If you have a topic that you would like to see addressed or feedback, please contact

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in guest posts do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Dance/USA.

Skip to content