“The marketing as a discipline. Arts marketing has dramatically

“The arts are a
means by which we can investigate and understand the past and the present, our
world and our feelings” (Rosen, 2010). The arts have become an integral part of
society playing a fundamental role in the promotion of social and economic
goals “through
local regeneration, attracting tourists, the development of talent and
innovation… and improving health and wellbeing” (Arts Council
England, 2014: Boorsma, 2006: Fillis, 2011). Consequently, the arts are contributory
to a means of accomplishing far beyond the immediate intrinsic experience and
value of the art itself. The value of the arts is illustrated by its direct
contribution of £10.6bn to GDP in 2015 (Department for Digital, Culture, Media
and Sport, 2017). This perspective for the arts has drastic implications for
the future of arts marketing as a discipline. Arts marketing has dramatically
developed over the past three decades. Kotler (1972) established the generic
concept of marketing to which obtained universal relevancy amongst the
commercial sectors. Arts marketing was conceptualised as a collection of
techniques in a decision-making process. This initial
romanticism has been criticised and challenged since its introduction with
authors such as Hill et al (2012) stating arts marketing to be an “integrated management process which sees mutually satisfying
exchange relationships with consumers as the route to achieving organisational
and artistic objectives”. The conflicting
definitions above illustrate how the concept has faced and is facing
orientational dilemma. This literature review explores three key periods for
arts marketing to examine the change in discourse; 1970s, 1980s and 1990s
onwards. The review will incorporate practical examples and conclude with
potential future directions to create a comprehensive view on the concept.



1970s saw the emergence of the notion of marketing to the arts, with Phillip
Kotler being one of the first advocates highlighting marketing’s relevance to numerous organisations in society (Hill et al, 2012).
Kotler (1975) believed that as organisations within the arts sector produce ‘cultural goods’, in doing so, they compete
for consumer attention and a share of governmental resources. Kotler’s theory implies marketing is a generic concept thereby able to be ‘transferred’ and applicable to
different sectors obtaining homogenous characteristics. Bagozzi (1980) supports
this by donating marketing as obtaining “universal
application”. Arguably, Fillis (2000)
states that “conventional models of
marketing… are not applicable to
numerous” organisations. Lee (2005) expands on the
idea of marketing application defining marketing as “value exchanges between an organisation and its consumers”. The consumer supposedly experiences social and psychological
benefits at the expense of money and time, and the organisation receives income
and recognition at the cost of expenditure and managerial efforts. This notion of
‘value’ is
supported by Butler’s (2000) theory of
value-defining process in which he recognises the ultimate role and purpose of
marketing in which value is defined by the market or the artist and the
discovery of new art.  In accordance to
Butler, Diggle’s, in Marketing the Arts (1976),
acknowledges the authority and autonomy of artists where marketing is perceived
as a “middle-man”
between the audience and artist; reinforcing the concept of exchange.

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crucial aspect of marketing portrayed led to the formation of arts funding with
The Arts Council, by 1975, supporting 1,200 clients such as the city of
Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (Arts Council England, 2017).  In this period, marketing was perceived to be
a novelty concept, resulting in arts marketing practices developing alongside the
growing understanding of marketing’s scope with activities concentrating on
specific marketing functions such as media relations (Hill et al, 2012). Colbert
et al (2014) build on this perception stating that “in this premise, arts marketing developed with a product orientation
as opposed to a market orientation” with
the “product of an artistic process impermeable
to the influence of marketing”. A
product centred approach is still being used today by arts organisations
illustrated by The Orchestra of
the Age of Enlightenment to which have successfully incorporated this approach
into its recent campaign in 2012. The campaign builds on the heading ‘Not all orchestras are the same’ placing
the musician at ‘centre-stage’ to ensure
the audience connect with the artist and product (Guardian, 2012).


(2005) criticises a product centred approach due to “limiting itself to a technical implication” with the exchange less likely to be reoccurring. This period of
gathering studies and a focus on selling was labelled by Rentschler (2002), in
his arts marketing development framework, as the “foundation
period” for only limited literature and research
existed on the concept. A basis of arts marketing was set with further
modification of the concept to be explored in due course.



1980s saw a period of marketization for arts marketing due to the dynamic
change in the policy climate leading to “the
development of specialist expertise and skill sets with marketing departments
becoming more established” (Rentschler,
2002: Lee, 2003). Threats of funding cuts from the government and Art’s Council made it transparent of the intensity of the environment in
which a ‘market-centred approach’ was essential (Lee, 2003). Arts Minister (1979-1981) provides
confirmation by stating a tilt away “from
the expansion of the public to the private sector”
thereby coordinating a ‘state-driven cultural
change’. Thus, the focal point of arts marketing shifted
towards customers and started to be perceived as a “systematic process” (Lee,
2005). Robbins & Verwey (1982) agree, as, in the TMA Marketing Manual, they
define marketing as a “co-ordinated process…to present a product proposition to a target market… to achieve objectives”.


In line
with this notion, arts marketing began to be noted as an effective strategy to
be utilised by organisations. However, Bennett (2014) argued cuts in funding
underlined organisational weakness relating to marketing knowledge with the
need to improve. Mokwa et al (1980) supports Bennett through acknowledgement of
marketing’s role to “match the artist’s
creations and interpretations with an appropriate audience” due to the difficulty in marketing cultural goods. To aid
organisations in effective arts marketing, the Arts Council devised A
Classification of Residential Neighbourhoods (ACORN) and Target Group Index in
the mid 1980s to provide support by making market data available to improve
both resources and marketing skills of organisations (Lee, 2003: 2005).


arts marketing developing alongside the scope of marketing, a commercialised consensus
of identified marketing and satisfaction of customers must be followed;
relationship marketing (Bilton, 2017). Diggle (1984) debates this expansion of
arts marketing stating the techniques implored by marketers must be suited to
the artist and their offerings due to the “primary
aim of arts marketing is to bring an appropriate number of people… into an appropriate form of contact with the artist, and in doing
so arrive at the best financial outcome that is compatible with the achievement
of that aim”. The difference in authors
highlights the complexity of the development of arts marketing with emphasis
placed on the difficulty in determining the orientation most suitable.


The professionalization of arts marketing
continued throughout the 1990s with “a marketing
orientation progressively embedding itself within many organisations” (O’Reilly & Kerrigan, 2010). The continuous
trajectory of professionalization was marked by Rentschler (2002) as the “discovery period” in his framework previously mentioned. Baker
(1994) builds on this recognising arts marketing as the prerequisite to
organisational success and/or survival thereby, acquiring a sense of identity
with logic behind theory (Lee, 2005). The context of the perceived identity was
one of audience development due to the declining arts audiences throughout the
late 1990s (O’Reilly et al, 2014). Colbert (2007) indicates
the significance to a ‘customer centred’ approach labelling “consumers
of cultural products as not merely passive observers…but co-creators of the experience”. Butler
(2000) supports Colbert’s approach, identifying the fundamentality’s
of access and pricing in the ‘value-delivering
process’. For example, the Manchester Camarata incorporated
an organisation-wide strategy to establish interconnectivity between marketing
and brand values to ensure audience development was at the heart of the
organisation. This strategy resulted in a “51%
increase in new audiences between 2014-15”
(Davies, 2015).


Kotler and Scheff (1997) take a differing
view to Colbert stating a “purely market centred philosophy is
inconsistent with what the concept of arts is all about” in times when organisations operate under productivity limitations and
financial constraints. The issue raised by Kotler and Scheff (1997) has been
extensively shared by alternative authors agreeing that a plethora of
situational factors such as creative industries policy practice has resulted in
arts marketing transitioning into a new phase of development away from the core
artistic and cultural integrity (Bernstein, 1997: Rentschler, 1999). Scholars
Caust (2003) and Nielson (2003), are highly critical of commercial marketing
philosophies and technologies for the arts claiming adoptions stifles
innovation. Arguably, Hume and Mort (2010) conducted a study in which the “importance of peripheral service elements” was
accentuated indicating a need to broaden the strategic focus beyond the core
artistic product. Therefore, enhancing the core artistic product can be done
through alteration and modification of the augmented product to ensure
consumption. The ongoing debate towards arts marketing developments highlights
the need to devise a strategy that “inherently
combines artistic values and pragmatic commercial and organisational
necessities from the outset” (Butler,
2000). DiMaggio (1985) builds on the notion of ‘balance’ due to differing natures of both arts and organisations denoting arts
organisations “as a contradiction in terms”.  Despite noting the need for a
balance, subsequent authors such as O’Sullivan
(1997) raise the need for “the arts to remain ‘producer-led’ contradictory to the notion of marketing as
a body of theory and management practice”.



The advancement of arts marketing from a
generic marketing concept to a valued and prominent instrument to be used by
arts organisations has resulted in an ‘orientational
dilemma’ for if arts marketing is to be marketing, a
market orientation needs to be endorsed, however it must be in line with
artistic autonomy and protecting the value of the arts.  The 1970s was a period of ‘product orientation’ in which marketing focused on the artists’ products due to the assumption that the quality of the products
surpasses consumer expectation therefore will be high in demand. The 1980s was
a period centred around ‘process orientation’ in which the dynamic cultural climate heightened the need to utilise
marketing as an effective mechanism for customer retention. The 1990s was a
period of ‘market orientation’ due to customer becoming the focal point for all organisations thereby
consolidating marketing within the arts sector.  Fillis (2011) draws attention to the implication
of orientation in which continuous application of marketing assumptions has
transpired the gap between theory and practice. 
This limitation calls for a comprehensive evaluation of whether
marketing is relevant to the arts or, rather, a “complicated
process” in which the persistence
of culture in the arts sector negotiates with the “philosophical and practical difficulties” involved in market ideology (Anderson, 1991: Lee, 2005). To overcome the inevitable conflict,
the basis of arts marketing must be to ensure full exposure for the artist and
the work produced with the task of then clearly and effectively supporting and
communicating the ‘vision’.


As this literature review has identified, the
arts are seen as detrimental to the progression of society. Arts marketing has
developed from Kotler’s (1969) generic concept of marketing to an
organisational philosophy, moving away from the notion of autonomous art. The phenomena
of arts marketing and its role is one recognised and discussed by numerous
authors with emphasis placed on its growth. There are considerable conflicting
views between a ‘product-led’ or ‘market-led’ orientation and to which is best suited. As
a result, both evaluation and consideration must be undertaken to determine
future directory.  The course of arts
marketing, involving future strategies and projects, will be guided by