Case Study: 3 Day Startup Brings Innovative Approach to San Antonio’s Performing Arts Organizations

3 Day Startup (3DS) partnered with the 80/20 Foundation and Geekdom to host the first-ever 3 Day Startup for the Performing Arts. The program introduced San Antonio’s performing arts organizations to lean start up techniques and intraprenuerial thinking. The results were powerful insights into ways to better engage audiences and the community in their work, while simultaneously generating new sources of earned revenue and improving sustainability.

The Current State of the Performing Arts Industry

According to the NEA, nearly half of the nation’s adults attended at least one type of visual or performing arts activity in 2012. And nationwide, the performing arts industry is made up of approximately 8,840 organizations, generating nearly $13.6 billion in annual revenues. In San Antonio alone, arts and culture organizations and their audiences generated more than $134 million in direct economic activity in 2010, according to Americans for the Arts. However, while arts organizations thrive on creativity, producing innovative, exciting, and inspiring performances on stage, they often struggle to harness that same innovative spirit and apply it to their business models. As we have seen with a string of recent high-profile cases (New York City Opera, The Philadelphia Orchestra, among others), many face deficits, go bankrupt, or are forced to downsize. Such failures prevent organizations from serving their communities, while developing a reputation for the performing arts among skeptics as an inefficient, ineffective money-pit.

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