In March 2018, Amanda Kibler, Education Director of The Coterie Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri, realized that four classes from the theater’s 2018 summer program needed to be canceled due to poor enrollment.
Income from the summer program typically generated 50% of the education department’s revenue for the fiscal year. The cut classes would eliminate 5% of that profit. Though it was a relatively small percentage of total income, Kibler, along with Producing Artistic Director Jeff Church and Executive Director Joette Pelster, was perplexed by the decline in enrollment numbers.
Since its founding in 1979, the company had done quite well creating educational programs that were attractive to local families and youth. In 2004 The Coterie was named one of the top five theaters for young audiences in the nation. However, by 2018, regional and demographic shifts created something never experienced by The Coterie - robust competition from new youth theater endeavors in the Kansas City area.
Kansas City had changed drastically since The Coterie’s early days and an ever-expanding metro area saw the rise of a new generation of parents (“Generation X”) parenting the first generation to grow up in a technology-driven world (“Generation Z”). As the population expanded into sprawling suburbs, Generation X parents moved into this expansion, which took families 5 to 10 miles away from the city’s center.
New youth performing arts programs, like Stage Right Performing Arts and Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center, followed this movement and started opening in the suburbs. The Coterie, located in the heart of downtown Kansas City, suddenly felt far away from its consumer base and unsure of how to address the competition for parents who seemed to flock to the new companies.
With limited resources allocated to business analysis, Kibler, Church, and Pelster endeavored to find a way forward that would keep The Coterie relevant to its divergent Kansas City audience.
This case contains links to videos.
Published Date: 2019-05-15
Suggested Citation: Laurie Ortega-Murphy, "The Coterie Theatre (2018)," Yale Theater Management Knowledge Base Case Study #18-95, May 15, 2019
Keywords: Kansas City, Strategy, Case Video, Organizational Direction, Small Organization
Teaching Notes: Yes (please contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
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