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In the late 90s Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre received a significant Wallace Foundation grant for the development of new works to expand audience. The first production was a collaborative effort with Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, Pittsburgh’s premiere jazz organization. The ballet, initially titled ‘Jazz with Pittsburgh Roots’ was a mixed rep honoring the city’s rich heritage in jazz. One of PBT’s goals was to brand and market the production in a way that strongly connected with both current and new audiences. PBT also viewed this project as an opportunity to more broadly inform future artistic planning and marketing strategies.


The marketing side began with a visioning process and focus groups on potential brand names, which led to the selection of Indigo in Motion. We conducted additional focus groups with PBT’s target segments—traditional ballet goers, jazz enthusiasts, men, and African-Americans. We set out to understand their perceptions of PBT, the perceived relevance of ballet in their lives, their primary attendance barriers, and their media habits. We tested advertising/messaging concepts to determine the most effective brand positioning and communications direction.


Marketing was completely en pointe and the program was considered a break-through experience by all involved. Indigo drew sold-out, highly diverse, and enthralled crowds. For additional learning we conducted customer satisfaction surveys following the performances. To this day, the scores are among the highest we have ever seen. Subscription renewals increased from the usual 65% to 72% the following season, the ballet singularly raised the visibility of PBT within the community, and the process put PBT on a path of better connecting with new audiences through personally meaningful programmatic themes. The Wallace Foundation commissioned a feature article on the development and success of this amazing endeavor. You can read more about the Indigo in Motion story on the Wallace website: Pittsburgh Ballet Theater: New Work, New Audiences, New Expectations.

Raising the barre for audience growth
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
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