Whom Will We Gather? (NAMPC 2021)


Dr. Zannie Giraud Voss, SMU DataArts
Emika Abe, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

About this Session

An important question to keep in mind as pandemic restrictions loosen and we re-engage our communities is “Whom will we gather?” The communal nature of the arts, where audience members interact with one another in the course of collectively experiencing performances and events, holds great potential for bringing communities together and for reaffirming existential meaning after prolonged isolation and polarization. But do large performing arts organizations have a history of equitably serving the diversity of their communities, and what influences help or hinder their efforts to do so? 

New research from SMU DataArts examines if and how donor priorities, an organization’s location, its subscription base, and its marketing actions all affect the extent to which the organization’s audience represents the diversity of its community. Together we will examine implications of this research as arts marketers, funders, and arts patrons navigate the challenges that lie ahead in post-pandemic reality, and with a social justice lens. Attendees will learn how funder priorities and strategic marketing choices enhance or inhibit opportunities for cultural exchange and understanding among the full spectrum of a community’s diverse populations.

During this session, attendees will:
1. Engage with new research.
2. Examine trends of income and racial representativeness of audiences.
3. Consider implications of how their current practices intersect with the diversity of their audiences.

Thanks to Claremont Graduate University for its generous support of this session. 


This session is a part of the 2021 National Arts Marketing Project Conference.

Emika Abe

Managing Director

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Emika Abe is Managing Director of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, DC, a position she has held since October 2019. She is thrilled to lead a theatre with “radical inclusivity” and “creative risk-taking” as core values, alongside Artistic Director Maria Manuela Goyanes. With an MFA in Theater Management from Yale School of Drama and an MBA from Yale School of Management, Emika enjoys the complexity of working at the intersection of art and business. She is passionate about the essential role that theatre can play in activating individuals, strengthening communities, and advancing social justice.

Previous professional experience includes the Alliance Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre, as well as fellowships at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Center Theatre Group, and Artists Repertory Theatre. Emika has proudly served on grant panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and she has presented at the TCG National Conference, Tessitura Learning & Community Conference, League of Resident Theatres’ annual meetings, Berkshire Leadership Summit, and numerous universities.

Dr. Zannie Giraud Voss


SMU DataArts

Dr. Zannie Voss is Director of SMU DataArts, the National Center for Arts Research and Professor of Arts Management in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and the Cox School of Business. She served as Chair of Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship at SMU for ten years.  Prior to joining the SMU faculty, she was a Professor at Duke University and Producing Director of Theater Previews at Duke, developing and co-producing more than a dozen new plays and musicals, two of which ran on Broadway and national tour.   

She has served as a consultant to numerous grantmakers and national arts service organizations.  Zannie has published articles examining the strategic factors that influence organizational performance in leading academic journals in marketing and management. She currently serves on the boards of the International Association of Arts and Cultural Management, TRG Arts, the Dallas Symphony, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and TACA, and she is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science’s Commission on the Arts. 

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Whom Will We Gather? (NAMPC 2021)
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