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September 29th, 2019

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust: 2019 Genius Awards Finalist (Data Analytics Storytelling)

This is the tenth of 11 posts Neustar will be running to highlight the achievements of the 2019 ANA Genius Awards finalists. Winners will be announced during ANA Masters of Marketing Week, Oct 2-5.



What is the rate of reactivation when it comes to Pittsburgh’s Cultural Trust theatergoers?

The Challenge:

Everyone loves a big show! – except, perhaps, for the people who fund them. This was a problem for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, a non-profit arts organization created in 1984 by H.J. “Jack” Heinz, former CEO of H.J. Heinz and grandson of the founder. The Cultural Trust serves the Pittsburgh Cultural District, a 14-square block area in downtown Pittsburgh, now one of the country’s largest areas “curated” by a non-profit organization. The Cultural Trust manages over one million square feet of property, including multiple theaters, art galleries, public art projects, and urban parks. The issue was that, while audiences loved going to see lavish Broadway productions, other District venues worried. They believed that audiences would come to the District once to see a Broadway blockbuster like Hamilton, and then never again – making funding these shows a losing proposition for other local organizations that wanted to see the benefits of repeat business.

The trustees of Pittsburgh’s Cultural Trust wanted to dispel this myth once and for all. They believed that putting on Broadway extravaganzas was an effective way to build community excitement for other ventures such as the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, the Pittsburgh Opera, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

The Process:

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust already had a fantastic asset to work with – the smART database. This was a shared database of customer information from each of the arts organization within the district. Its purpose was to allow organizations to cross-sell to various consumers without stepping on each other’s toes (sending ads for productions on the same night) or alienating low-engagement prospects by inundating them with marketing materials.

The Cultural Trust used smART to identify households that lived in the Pittsburgh area and had made ticket purchases within the District itself. They identified where these households had made their first purchase, as well as if they made any subsequent purchases – as well as where these purchases occurred. They then isolated individuals who had made their first purchases at Broadway shows, and compared their subsequent purchases to individuals who had made their first purchase elsewhere.

Lastly, they used tools such as Power Query, Power Pivot, and DAX to create models and visualizations.

The Results:

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust profoundly and permanently punctured the myth that first-time Broadway theatergoers never returned to area. In fact, over 56% of Broadway theatergoers reactivated and returned to the District – a rate virtually identical to first timers at other productions. In addition, over 60% of returning theatergoers went to a production other than a Broadway show, meaning that other organizations such as the opera and the ballet frequently benefitted.

The total of 25,000 reactivating households generated over $25 million USD for the Pittsburgh Cultural District, and their value is not yet diminished. Two thirds of the reactivators went on to make at least three ticket purchases, and a large number of them became subscribers. In short, Broadway productions at the Pittsburgh Cultural District have been a gift that keeps on giving.

Final Thoughts:

Big Data isn’t just for big companies. Armed with an ingenious database and crucial insights, this non-profit organization was able to demonstrate just how much their Broadway program benefitted the arts and helped to revitalize Pittsburgh’s downtown area. 


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For more about all the 2019 Genius Awards Finalists, click here.

To learn how Neustar helps enterprise marketers like you build real, actionable insights that help you truly understand the impact of your marketing investment, click here.

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