From San Francisco to Sydney, TRG Arts helps theaters, museums and festivals increase the number of customers and improve their revenue because, “arts and culture make communities better, stronger and more interesting,” said President and CEO Jill Robinson.
“What arts do, what music does is remind us that we are still human,” Robinson said. “As humans, we want to experience beauty, be entertained and challenged. Even during the worst times, we can still be inspired. Think about 9/11. Concerts popped up all over the country and people came together to share experiences in cultural institutions and churches to heal.”
Founded in Colorado Springs more than 20 years ago, the management consulting firm has more than 1,200 clients. The business created the infrastructure to allow community arts programs to share data, and also provides the analytics needed to sustain funding for arts institutions around the globe — including the Nottingham Playhouse, New York City Ballet, Denver Art Museum and Toronto International Film Festival.
Continuum of services
The company started in consulting, moved to data aggregation and analytics, and began managing community networks around 2004, Robinson said.
“We’ve been doing community networks long enough for the business to be established on it,” she said. “We’re really the only provider of that kind of service in the country.”
TRG Arts provides infrastructure for organizations in a specific community to share patron data.
“We provide a user interface — a way for organizations to put their data into the systems and then build a framework of analysis and trading because in the U.S., data privacy doesn’t have the same concerns as in Canada, Australia or the United Kingdom.”
Revenue and loyalty management are the firm’s primary areas.
“Our clients hire us because they are dependent on revenue streams from ticket buyers, members or donors; we strengthen administrative practices and strategies,” Robinson said.
One of the company’s key strategies is its dynamic pricing, changing pricing according to demand. TRG Arts was the first company to help arts and cultural organizations in the United States use the method a decade ago, according to Robinson.
“Now it’s widely used,” she said. “Our clients, the Victoria Theater in Dayton, the North Carolina Symphony and Pacific Northwest Ballet School in Seattle were the first organizations to make changes to their pricing in real time, dynamically when demand exists.”
Revenue management and pricing are part of the firm’s strategy because pricing has an impact on consumer behavior, Robinson said. “You want to create pricing models that encourage people to attend, but also maximize revenue and are in the organization’s best interest,” she said. “The industry will adjust prices by $3-$5 so it doesn’t feel unfair to the consumer and has an impact if they’re doing it regularly.”
The firm also studies transactions and reports back to its client on how its patrons are behaving — distinguishing buyers, tryers and advocates.
“It’s like any business, every business has customers and by using data, you can analyze it to pinpoint your most loyal,” Robinson said. “You figure out how you can keep them, as well as target your least loyal customers, and work to understand how to better engage and grow that base. And the strategies are different.”
The firm has worked with local businesses including the Colorado Springs Philharmonic and Fine Arts Center to development loyalty profiles and help manage revenue to a great effect, Robinson said.
“I think arts and cultural organizations have to figure out who they are,” she said. “They have to work really hard, compete well and things will grow — admissions, subscriptions, philanthropy and revenue.”
TRG has maintained clients in Australia for five years, in Canada for 10 and the United Kingdom for two. A small portion of the firm’s business is in Colorado Springs. Robinson said she’s kept the company in the city where it first stood up for good reason.
“We’re a team and a business that’s growing,” she said. “On the surface you’d think it’d be easier to recruit from some place like Denver — but for our clients and business purposes, Colorado Springs makes the most sense.”
With company revenue approaching $5 million, consulting is the heartbeat of TRG, Robinson said.
“It’s how we started and how we approach everything that we do — results-driven consulting,” she said. “We’ll always be a small business, but right now we have an objective of growth because we can see potential in international markets.”
Robinson also said the company has a goal of making its services available to organizations with smaller budgets.
“Our reputation includes being on the expensive side and that you have to have a certain budget — and it’s true,” she said. “Our services are robust, and we invest a lot in them. But we would like to be able to offer online workshops and professional development intensives costing in the hundred-dollar range instead of in the thousands.”
Robinson said she runs the company because she deeply cares about communities.
“I want Colorado Springs to be great, and know arts and culture make communities better,” she said. “Where there is creative industry that is strong, the city pulses. I see our firm’s impact and am motivated by that.”