Tacoma Symphony Orchestra -- Strategic Assessment

The Tacoma Symphony, like many other orchestras and arts organizations in the post-9/11 era, needed to understand its market potential and new approaches to grow its audience. It retained Hosfeld & Associates to explore ways to increase ticket sales and support for classical and orchestral music in its area.

Hosfeld & Associates’ conducted a comprehensive review of staff, board, orchestra members and audience perceptions of the symphony’s image, marketing performance and opportunities for growth. Using an appreciative inquiry approach, we identified the assets the symphony currently possessed. In looking for new opportunities for growth, we sought out national models of successful classical music organizations, and how they were adapting to new trends, tastes and new media.

We utilized data from a well-known classical music study, combined with local research to benchmark the market potential for classical music in the Tacoma Symphony’s service area. We were able to demonstrate that the market was far larger than the board or staff believed it to be. Our study suggested that with modest improvement in marketing strategy and tactics, even the most conservative estimate of impact represented significant benefit in ticket and subscription sales.

Additionally, the assessment provided a new perspective on the potential role of the Tacoma Symphony to provide civic leadership in arts education, building on its award-winning standards-based curriculum.  This curriculum, developed by Maestro Harvey Felder, a dedicated music educator, not only met but anticipated the implementation of arts learning standards in Washington State. Although innovative in its scope, it was previously under-utilized as a strategic asset for audience development and outreach.In its 2007-2008 annual report, Tacoma Symphony Orchestra credited a 9% increase in single-ticket sales to the Hosfeld assessment process and implementation of our recommendations.