Willing to Pay? Racial Equity Resources.

This month I thought it might be helpful to focus on areas that are likely to be topics in classes and at work this fall: online pricing of programming and racial equity. A recent article posted to the ArtsProfessional website focused on the timely subject of pricing programs for digital audiences. Meanwhile, addressing racial equity or the lack thereof is also a priority area arts organizations are currently grappling with.

WTP or Willingness to Pay

In microeconomics, the concept of WTP is studied as part of the theory of supply and demand. We all have price points that vary based on our emotions and the types of items or experiences we are contemplating purchasing. However, the coronavirus introduced new factors that influence our buying habits. For example, many people suddenly became willing to pay for Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+ subscriptions in the last few months. On the other hand, audiences for arts and culture events were generously offered free programming online.

As time went on, it became apparent that giving away performance and exhibitions was not a sustainable activity. The often talked about “digital divide” was also playing out in the arts. Some organizations and artists had the technology to deliver a quality digital product, while others struggled with low fidelity do-it-yourself solutions.

Robin Cantrill-Fenwick’s article in the ArtsProfessional points out that only 12% of the people polled in a recent survey had paid for online culture. Not surprisingly, the majority of the people surveyed were not willing to pay for online content at the same level as an in-person event.

Most arts organizations did not have extensive online offerings that had been priced based on research about WTP. The good news is, digital programming has presented new opportunities to connect with audiences. It will be interesting to see how organizations adapt to this new environment.

[Note: I also included a link below to a posting that provides more information on how to go about calculating WTP.]

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Resources.

As I have been working on revisions for the next edition of Management and the Arts, I have gathered information and resources on how cultural organizations can become more equitable, diverse, and inclusive.

The Equity in the Center organization has created a well-designed website to help organizations become more racially diverse and “to shift mindsets, practices, and systems.” One of the tools Equity in the Center has created is a 38-page workbook entitled “Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture.” The link to the document is below.

As arts organizations are attempting to put EDI programs in place, they are discovering they are falling short of meeting their goals. In many cases, this is because changing the organization’s culture, for example,  was not addressed. New policies and procedures can be developed, but if an organization does not consider all the factors that influence its capacity to change, it won’t be easy to realign deeply imbedded attitudes and beliefs. The “Awake to Woke to Work” framework is built using seven levers that to create a “race equity cycle.” (See the diagram of this process on p. 14 in the workbook.)

  1. Senior leadership
  2. Managers
  3. Board of Directors
  4. Community (stakeholders)
  5. The creation of learning environments
  6. Data which helps with setting metrics
  7. Organizational culture – Aligning shared values, assumptions, and beliefs

I also included a link to a comprehensive equity toolkit and glossary on the Equity in the Center website. As with any change process, it helps if you have everyone using a common language to facilitate communication and adopting new perspectives.

Lastly, there are two other resources I suggest you look at in helping students or staff as they begin to grapple with race equity issues. The first is a link to the 2016 Americans for the Arts “Mapping Our Progress Toward Cultural Equity.” This document provides an example of how Americans for the Arts went about its change process.

The second link is to a document I found by an organization in the UK – “Socio-Economic Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts: A Toolkit for Employers.” As the title suggests, the social and economic barriers influence why many people do not engage in the arts or work in arts organizations. The report contains 12 case studies and detailed action plans that can be implemented to help organizations become more equitable, diverse, and inclusive.

And so that’s it for the October posting. I hope you find these two topic areas of value in your studies or as you go about managing an arts organization.

Thanks for being a subscriber to these monthly postings.  

Bill Byrnes  


What can – and should – you charge digital audiences?

By Robin Cantrill Fenwick, ArtsProferssional News, Sept. 15, 2020

Even if people are willing to pay for digital performances, are they willing to pay enough? Robin Cantrill Fenwick examines the data emerging from the pandemic’s rush to digitise, and where the income opportunities lie.

Mainly broadcast from the empty 5,000+ seater Royal Albert Hall in London, many Proms performances were followed by a somewhat alien silence. But on the first night, as the final notes of Eric Whitacre’s choral work Sleep faded away, when the conductor stepped away there was applause – not from the stalls, but from the stage. In the absence of a ticketed crowd, the players of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, waiting to play next, showed their appreciation for their colleagues’ performance.

This spontaneous moment illuminated both the fragility and adaptability of culture in the pandemic. A small, natural gesture that highlighted the extraordinary lengths the sector has gone to in order to continue performing, however and wherever it can, whatever the circumstances.

Link to article:


Additional Resource on Willingness to Pay

Here’s a link to a helpful article that presents an overview of subscription pricing related to willingness to pay (WTP). Several different frames are used to look at WTP and there are examples of using WTP to set meditation goals to multi-tiered pricing for Spotify subscriptions.  



Equity in the Center

Equity in the Center works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. We envision a future where nonprofit and philanthropic organizations advance race equity internally while centering it in their work externally.

Equity in the Center’s goals are:

  • Nonprofit and philanthropic organizations adopt a Race Equity Culture focused on proactive counteraction of social inequities
  • Organizations define, implement, and advance race equity internally while advocating for it in their work externally
  • Race equity is centered as a core goal of social impact across the sector

Awake to Woke to Work

Ground yourself in the process of building a Race Equity Culture. Explore the levers that drive change and the stages that mark transformation using the Race Equity Cycle. In collaboration with over 120 experts in the fields of DEI and race equity, we provide insights, tactics, and best practices to shift organizational culture and operationalize equity.


Racial Equity Tools – Equity at the Center


Americans for the Arts – Mapping Our Progress Toward Cultural Equity


Additional resource on Equity from the UK perspective:

Socio-Economic Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts: A Toolkit for Employers

Fair access to working in the arts remains one of the most urgent issues facing the sector today, with those from lower socio-economic backgrounds still vastly underrepresented amongst the artists and employees of UK theatres, festivals, galleries and arts organisations of all kinds.

Jerwood Arts and the Bridge Group have joined forces for this Toolkit with a mission to look to the future: to support long-term change across the arts sector by sharing knowledge, providing expert support, and encouraging take-up of an intersectional approach to equality, diversity and inclusion.