Attracting Generation X: How to Engage the Often Overlooked Arts Patrons

An out of focus shot of an audience full of Generation X patrons

Attracting Generation X: How to Engage the Often Overlooked Arts Patrons

Attracting Generation X: How to Engage the Often Overlooked Arts Patrons 1600 900 NeverDark

Generation X (those born between 1965-1980) is often the “forgotten generation” when it comes to audience engagement. For years, Baby Boomers have been the biggest supporters of arts and culture organizations, but recently, Millennials have taken the spotlight.

Marketing to Millennials is great, but what about Gen X?  Focusing more of your marketing efforts on Gen X will be key to packing your venue for years to come.

Here are 5 strategies for engaging Gen X audiences and ensuring they feel valued and connected: 

1. Offer a Blend of Digital and Traditional Communication Channels

As the earliest adopters of computers, email, and even DVDs, Gen Xers are much more tech-savvy than their predecessors, but they still appreciate traditional communication methods. As the generation between Boomers (who respond well to printed mail) and Millennials (who prefer social media), Gen X resonates the most with marketing that falls somewhere in the middle, like email.

For example, send personalized emails with discounts to upcoming shows you know they’re interested in. Bonus points if you offer a promotion to purchase a recording of the performance they saw so they can keep a digital copy as a keepsake! 

2. Showcase Authenticity and Transparency

Generation X values authenticity and transparency in their interactions with businesses and organizations. So, the more genuine you are in your messaging, the more you’ll connect with them. For example, when writing your email subject lines, keep your information straightforward and avoid sales-y language.

Tip: If you’re promoting an exclusive discount, don’t offer it to everyone (and make sure they know it)! Gen X loves to be in on a secret, without being swayed into a false sense of urgency.

3. Foster a Generation X Arts Community 

Compared to their parents, Gen X is a more independent and free-spirited generation. And since many have older children, they have more free time to try new experiences, pursue their cultural interests, and make friends in similar seasons of life.

Want to take things a step further? Start a membership program where your most passionate patrons can regularly meet and attend exclusive events with fellow arts lovers. These experiences will not only provide an enjoyable evening for your patrons but also help strengthen their connection to your organization.

4. Offer (and Promote) a Variety of Shows 

Growing up, Gen Xers were exposed to many “classic” forms of entertainment: opera, classic plays, musical theater, you name it! But they were also the first to embrace more contemporary forms of the same genres, like rock opera. Because of this, they’re just as comfortable with operas like La Boheme as they are with Broadway musicals like Rent, and they appreciate how one was born from the other.

To fully embrace their diverse interests, consider scheduling two different shows—one classical and one contemporary—around a common theme. This is also the perfect opportunity to offer a discounted price when they buy tickets to both performances at the same time.

5. Embrace Gen X’s Artistic Background 

Throughout their lives, arts education was still widely offered in school, so most Gen X adults have experience playing instruments, singing in choirs, or working in theater productions. This artistic background gives them a greater appreciation of the work your organization does.

Make the most of their interests and boost engagement by inviting them to do things like go on a behind-the-scenes tour, watch a rehearsal, or connect (or jam!) with your performers. The more you offer intimate, private glimpses into your organization’s creative endeavors, the more excited they’ll be to continue engaging with everything you do in the future. 

By understanding the unique preferences and values of Generation X, you can implement strategies to effectively engage this often-overlooked audience segment. By using a mix of marketing channels, being authentic, offering exclusive discounts, and producing a variety of shows, you can foster a strong connection with your Gen X patrons and ensure they remain an integral part of your organization’s success.

Need some inspiration? Here’s a list of marketing ideas to engage your patrons and sell more tickets.