Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Identifying Competitors in the Not-for-profit Arts



The arts in Pittsburgh are a growing and thriving industry. Neighborhoods are being revitalized, in part through the arts, in areas like Downtown, East Liberty, and Garfield. However, as more arts institutions emerge, they all face more and more competition. Realistically, a small, urban city like Pittsburgh can only support and maintain a certain number of cultural institutions who are fighting for your time and support (both through volunteering and cash contributions). I would therefore, like to look at potential struggles for non-profits – Like the Carnegie Museum of Art – to strategically identify and analyze their competitors.

Potential Competitors (for audience) include but are not limited to: 

  • Other art and science museums: Mattress Factory, Children’s Museum, The Warhol, The Frick, etc.
  • Performance venues: The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Attack Theater, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, Pittsburgh Symphony, mainstream concerts
  • Other “third space” opportunities: movie theaters, group meetups, restaurants, parks, etc.   
As shown with this list of possible competitors, they are highly varied. The Carnegie Museum cannot only consider other nonprofit art institutions; their competitors are wider than that. The common thread is that they are all competing to capture – in some capacity – the potential visitor’s “free” time. Each one wants to be the chosen ‘third space”. So essentially, the competitors described can compete against a myriad of opportunities depending on the audience member’s interests.

Therefore, in order to do an appropriate competitors analysis during a strategic planning process, it would need to look at institutions that are both similar and very desperate from their own. They should, therefore, employ the efforts of a consultant to help with the competitor analysis because it can generally be presumed that the organization will not have the time nor the means to complete the analysis independently. The consultant would help to create a full picture to identify strategies and objectives, positioning, strengths and weaknesses, and aggressive factors.

Other industries obviously face the same type of spread in their competitors, so museums or not-for-profits in general are not an anomaly. However, I would like to see a greater emphasis in the sector to analyze their competition. Maybe if this were done, museums and other institutions would make a greater effort to be efficient, relevant, and proactive.

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