Arts Engagement Exchange Grants Lead to New Projects

July 22, 2010

Thanks to a generous new round of grantmaking by the Arts Engagement Exchange here in Chicago, we’ll be conducting additional research for a favorite client, TimeLine Theatre, and beginning to work with two other terrific organizations: The Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago and the statewide service and advocacy group Arts Alliance Illinois.

The Arts Engagement Exchange is a collaboration between the Chicago Community Trust and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs on behalf of Chicago’s arts and cultural community. It was launched in 2006 with support from the Wallace Foundation, and is dedicated to helping arts organizations increase participation, reach more diverse audiences, and deepen the engagement of existing audiences.

The new grants, which were announced last week, are intended to help the recipients implement some of what they’ve learned about audience development, technology, and strategy in a series of “learning circles” hosted by the Arts Engagement Exchange over the past few years.

For TimeLine Theatre, we’ll be conducting focus groups to help the organization understand how to strengthen its relationships with new patrons. The study will build on our previous qualitative research for the theater in 2007, which focused on high-potential target audiences. TimeLine presents plays inspired by history that connect with today's social and political issues, and its current, held-over production of “The Farnsworth Invention” was praised in the Wall Street Journal.

We’re very pleased to be starting a relationship with the Oriental Institute Museum, which is part of the university’s famed Middle East research center known as the Oriental Institute and one of several internationally-respected arts institutions at the University of Chicago. We’ll be using qualitative research methods to learn how the museum is perceived and experienced by visitors and non-visitors alike, then helping the museum’s leadership team develop a long-range research plan.

We’re also delighted to have a chance to support the organization that supports arts groups around the state, Arts Alliance Illinois. We look forward to conducting a survey of the Alliance’s core service audience — arts professionals and managers — about their challenges, needs, and perceptions of the Alliance and how the organization can become more valuable to them.

Slover Linett’s senior associate for the performing arts, Chloe Chittick Patton, is happy to be working with the TimeLine team again. “They’ve seen tremendous audience growth since our research with them a few years ago,” she says. “It’ll be interesting to explore how the newcomers feel about the theater and what will keep them connected. Plus, I always enjoy working with PJ [Powers, artistic director] and Lara [Goetsch, director of marketing] because they’re so eager to learn about their audiences and so open to new possibilities.”

For more information about any of these projects, please contact Chloe by email or at (773) 348-9207.

Photo: TimeLine Theatre's production of The Farnsworth Invention, by Aaron Sorkin. Source:

Category: Performing arts

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