This case discusses strategy and competitive advantage, using the context of Arena Stage and the opening of its new facility in Southwest Washington DC. In March of 2010, Arena Stage was preparing to make one of the biggest changes in its storied, 60-year history. The Mead Center for American Theater, a major expansion and top-to-bottom renovation of the organization’s historic home at 6th and Main Street Southwest in Washington DC, was finally about to open after more than a decade of planning and two and a half years of construction. The physical changes will be remarkable enough, but Arena Stage, led since 1998 by Artistic Director Molly Smith, envisions more than just a physical change: a new strategy has been put into place to establish Arena Stage as a “national center for American theater.”
Managing director Edgar Dobie is conscious of several challenges as the organization prepares for the October 2010 grand opening: in the fall of 2008, the economy took a major turn for the worse. Ticket sales and charitable contributions fell sharply and have only slowly begun to recover in the two years since. Dobie knows that in order to support the organization’s new strategy and the higher expenses that come with running a larger new building, he must increase overall revenue, especially contributions. On top of it all, the Mead Center’s opening is just the latest in a series of high-profile cultural buildings to have opened in the DC area during the last ten years. The existing DC audience is being spread ever more thinly across an increasing number of theaters and seats, and if not positioned carefully, Arena Stage’s grand new building could fade into the landscape.
Publication Date: 2011-03-28
Suggested Citation: Art Priromprintr, "Arena Stage (2010)," Yale Theater Management Knowledge Base Case 09-29, March 28, 2011
Keywords: Washington D.C., Theater, Financial Management, Facilities, Organizational Direction, Development, Alignment, Growth, Mission, Strategic Planning, Performing Arts, Great Recession
Teaching Notes: Yes (please contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
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