Consumer value created by audience development in theatre organisations

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
International Design Business Management
Culture is an important part of our society, enriching people’s lives and deepening their understanding of the world around them. However, many cultural organisations depend on subsidies in being able to operate the way they do. The parties behind the subsidies require cultural organisations to do audience development – different events and activities that allow people to experience culture in different ways. Existing publications on audience development mainly focus on the artistic or organisational rather than consumer point of view. That is why this study was conducted to examine what value participating in audience development activities create for consumers in the theatre industry. The research data has been collected through Helsinki City Theatre. Since the purpose of the research is to understand what kind of value audience development creates for consumers, the case and data is qualitative. Interviews were conducted with participants from audience development activities. Each activity was also observed to deeper understand the interviewees. Research findings indicate that audience development generates value to participants through co-creation experiences, learning and brand relationship. The first two are transmitted to the participant or consumer directly from audience development activities, but also indirectly by providing added value to the traditional theatre experience. All of these have an impact on the brand, which then again affects the relationship between the participant and the organisation. Building and nurturing this relationship is valuable for most participants, and they are eager to feel even closer to the theatre organisation. Value creation between the theatre organisation and a participant is a two-way interaction, although many theories describe it strictly from an organisational point of view. The findings of this study support existing literature in stating that audience development broadens experiences of theatre for consumers. The main value for organisations, building customer relationships and loyal customers, is also visible as the brand relationship dimension. However, although co-creation is a way for the consumers to emerge themselves into the theatre experience, there is little theory supporting the process from a theatre organisation’s point of view. Overall, the findings help in pointing out aspects that are not yet present in existing theories about audience development, such as learning and co-creation. The findings can also be applied to other cultural sectors, but it is important to be aware of the possible differences between different fields.
Thesis advisor
Lehtonen, Miikka
audience development, co-creation, theater industry, culture, value creation
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