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Case Studies

A note about these cases

At the end of each chapter, you will find a case study.  The material we have shared (the cases were prepared by Anthony Rhine and John “Jay” Pension) in each chapter is tested and true, and the cases are designed to supplement your learning from the chapters.  Each case is a story about a situation faced by a theoretical company or individual (which are inspired by true events).  Names have been changed, locations are different, and sometimes details have been added or deleted to keep the cases focused on the topic at hand, but make no mistake, these are real situations.


We have both often found the material in marketing textbooks to feel blatantly obvious.  Over the past ten years Jay has had the pleasure of working with six theatre companies and producing more than 100 productions between Boston and New York. He can share without question that understanding terms and facts is only the start to competence in the field of marketing the arts. Working in the field you will likely find that nothing is as clean-cut as it seems in marketing. These cases are designed to give a real (as real as can be achieved by a book) experience in applying the tenets of each chapter.  Because Anthony has been away from the classroom as a student for a while now, Jay’s contribution as a recent graduate student has kept the cases fresh and approachable from both a teaching and a learning perspective.


While there are countless examples of unusual circumstances, these cases focus on issues every arts organization faces at some time. When examining these cases, don’t stop with what you may see as the easiest or obvious answer. Dig deep and think. No two marketing directors will approach the same problem in exactly the same way.  This is your opportunity to start developing your style and create your own approach based both on your reading of this text and your lived experience.


We are both grateful for the opportunity to present these cases to you.  Working together for the past couple of years, we have both realized how much we enjoy analyzing issues around arts administration.  Bouncing ideas back and forth with each other is frequently the highlight of our days. Hopefully these cases will inspire you to do the same, and will impact the learning of everyone who reads this book.


Enjoy these cases, and have fun!

— Anthony and Jay

The case study for chapter one focuses on Dan, a young entrepreneur who is celebrating the first anniversary of his "supper club," which sells an annual membership.  Members can attend as often as they'd like, and each week a new act performs.  Drinks and dinner are additional costs the members pay for, but the concert entertainment is provided as part of the membership fee.  While the club has done exceptionally well, after a successful one-time presentation of "The Rocky Horror Show," Dan is considering expanding by adding midnight shows, including theatrical performances, and encouraging a younger membership.  Deciding if the additional cost for retrofitting his venue to accommodate theatre is worth the potential income challenges him.  He conducts a limited amount of research, and has to weigh a number of factors before proceeding.  The case poses questions about what the research tells Dan, what additional research he may need to conduct in order to fully inform his opinion, and what data would be enough to push Dan's decision toward moving forward.

The chapter two case explores the story of a 250-seat theatre in Cambridge, England.  The founder and artistic director, Susan Cardillo, has noticed a consistent but steady drop in her aging audience base, and is struggling with how to address the change.  The case presents an analysis of the company, customers, competitors, collaborators, and climate, and offers some financials for consideration.  The exploration asks readers to consider how all the factors interplay, and to develop a long-term market strategy, with detailed market segmentation, and how the product, price, place, and promotion could be altered to better execute the company's mission and serve the largest audience.

In the chapter three case, Australian entrepreneur Gryphon Senft has developed a new subscription model for boxed instructions for acting out sexual fantasies, and is struggling with how to shape the product in order to ensure a successful launch.  Gryphon hires creative writers who develop a story, she then has to adapt the stories into a series of instruction for users of the product which she calls, "fantasy-of-the-month."  Every month, subscribers receive a new package, which is essentially a play script, truncated into a series of cards and instructions for acting out a fantasy.  Her research is limited and somewhat spotty because, through her own admission, "people are not real comfortable talking about the details of their sex lives, and that's what we need to know in order to create the greatest value in this product."  Readers are asked to consider the product in terms of the value proposition and the product's positioning statement (which is linked to Gryphon's mission of providing one-on-one guides for homemade theatre), as well as to explore what research might further assist in creating greater value.  Finally, readers must consider how to effectively push this new artistic product onto the market.

The chapter four case looks at re-branding a troubled organization.  Santa Clarita Civic Light Opera (SCCLO) has announced a huge bailout, required within 60 days, to keep the organization afloat.  Toward the end of those 60 days, the company announces that it is on the path to success, but new Executive Director Tony Stephens discovers this is not the case.  Unwilling to make further public pronouncements about the fate of the company, as they have a negative impact on the SCCLO, Stephens has to assemble his staff and board to address the collapsing brand in light of the financial difficulties, and how to resurrect (or replace) the brand while simultaneously attempting to reverse the financial collapse.  Readers have to weigh how best to change perception of the brand, when and how to change branding elements if necessary, and how to use the brand to improve the financial situation.

The case for chapter five deals with a chamber ensemble in the outskirts of London, looking to expand its offerings by adding a second venue with a second series of performances that are more popular-culture oriented, believing that by making the shift, they will bring in younger audiences.  A wealthy donor has supported the hiring of a market research firm to analyze consumer perceptions and preferences both for the existing ensemble, and the potential second venue and series of programming.  The research includes results of a conjoint analysis, to help determine what features are of greatest utility to consumers.  Poring over the material, the company struggles to find the solution that makes most sense, given potential expenses.  Readers have to explore various options, analyze the data, and make a determination about how the company can proceed.

The chapter six case tells the story of Kirstie Martinez, a young entrepreneur with a love for the arts, a degree in business, and an aptitude for all things electronic.  She has run a successful Kickstarter campaign and raised a substantial sum to invest in her new concept.  She plans to establish a company that will set up 360 degree, virtual reality cameras in existing arts venues, and allow people to buy access to a live performance, which they can appreciate virtually, from the location of their choosing.  There are a number of ways in which she can distribute these performances, including via a recording, which would not allow the buyer to consume the art live, but would give them an equivalent experience.  Recognizing that she could do anything from simply licensing her technology to arts businesses to controlling the entire process and simply paying a fee to the arts organizations for access, Kirstie struggles with the next appropriate steps.  She is also challenged by contractual limitations on broadcasting and recording that many arts organizations are saddled with, and she must consider distribution possibilities that include breaking down those challenges by doing multiple negotiations with various license holders simultaneously.  Readers must consider the advantages of various distribution channels against the disadvantages created as the channels become larger.

The chapter seven case explores the global expansion of an online company that sells handcrafted jewelry which it purchases from artisans throughout the world.  When the company started out five years earlier, it operated on a very clear cost-pricing basis, adding a profit margin onto the cost of the jewelry it purchased.  Sales determined which suppliers would continue and which would not.  But as the company expands to foreign markets it needs to consider buying habits in those regions, how to break into each marketplace to gain market position, and how to price strategically for each market.  The company considers the data and evaluates several different styles of pricing depending on different criteria.  Readers are asked to consider where the evaluations may be most accurate, where they may be faulty, and ultimately determine the best pricing strategy given the data provided for each new market entry.

The case study for chapter eight explores the story of Lila Thorpe Dance Company, which grew successfully for almost twenty years.  The past couple of years, however, the company has lost customer base, and the data suggest that any continued trend will put them out of business in two years.  Executive Director James Mears and Artistic Director Lila Thorpe struggle with the reality of what they are facing.  Local competition has increased, and the taste and wants of the consumer have drastically changed.  In light of the success of dance programs on television, the team knows they must figure out why there is a draw to that, while live dance performances are suffering.  Recognizing that the company's history is no longer strong enough to carry it forward the team must face the very real challenge of downsizing, folding altogether, or evolving their core artistic product with the times.  All three options seem distasteful, but with the right partnerships, the company might be able to resurrect its glory days.  Readers are asked to consider multiple options to sustain and grow the audience based and face the fundamental challenge of staying true to a mission in light of a market that no longer can support the mission of the company.

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