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The IDEA Study - Phase 1

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Welcome to the IDEA Study Orchestra Cohort!

Please bookmark this page, as it is not publicly accessible.  

This page contains key information about the study for participating orchestras. Here, you’ll be able to access recordings of webinars and other IDEA Study resources into the future. 

  • Omaha Symphony 

  • Orchestra Lumos 

  • Pacific Symphony 

  • Philadelphia Orchestra 

  • Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra 

  • Richmond Symphony 

  • San Diego Symphony 

  • San Francisco Symphony 

  • South Bend Symphony Orchestra 

  • St. Louis Symphony Orchestra 

  • Symphony New Hampshire 

  • Wichita Symphony 

  • Winston-Salem Symphony 

  • Allentown Symphony Association  

  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra 

  • Boston Symphony Orchestra 

  • Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra 

  • Charlotte Symphony 

  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra 

  • The Cleveland Orchestra 

  • Detroit Symphony Orchestra

  • Houston Symphony 

  • Knoxville Symphony Orchestra 

  • LA Phil 

  • Madison Symphony Orchestra 

  • New World Symphony 

  • New York Philharmonic 

Cohort Membership 

The following 28 orchestras have opted in to the IDEA Study Orchestra Cohort:




Below are details on list selection and email production.


Key Dates: 

  •  The Deployment Logistics Webinar was held on Monday, March 27, 2023. A link to the recording of this session may be found at the bottom of this page.  

  • All orchestras send emails requesting cooperation with the survey on Tuesday, April 11. 

  • All orchestras send reminder emails on Friday, April 14; the survey closes at 11:59 pm PDT on April 17. 


Required Preparation: 

  • Read the sampling plan, below, and query your database to see what counts you have for each of the three categories/samples. Once you’ve assessed your counts, complete the sampling form to report your counts to WolfBrown. We need this information to calculate response rates.  


Recommended Email Language: 

Recommended language for the two outbound email messages may be found here. Use your own branding and design. Of critical importance is using the correct survey hyperlink (provided by WolfBrown) for each of the three samples/lists.  

Recommended language for an internal email messages to stakeholders can be found here. Participating orchestras are encouraged to notify internal stakeholders – staff, board members, and musicians – of their participation in the IDEA Study prior to the April 11 survey launch.


Sampling Plan: 

Participating orchestras will send out email messages requesting cooperation with the survey using a stratified sampling approach described below. Each orchestra must advise WolfBrown as to their sampling plan (i.e., the number of email addresses within each of the three categories or “samples” to which they’ll send messages).  


  • Sample 1: Diverse Programs 
    Individual ticket buyers to programs intended for culturally diverse audiences, typically featuring non-classical or hybrid musical styles or observing special events (e.g., jazz or gospel music concerts, Día de los Muertos concerts, Lunar New Year concerts)  

    Quantity:  minimum count of 500 emails; no maximum  

  • Sample 2: Diverse Artists/Composers 
    Individual ticket buyers to classical programs featuring diverse guest artists and/or conductors and/or repertoire; in this case the diversity should be a defining or primary feature of the program (e.g., a concert of works by Florence Price), on the theory that these programs might attract a somewhat more diverse audience 

    Quantity:  minimum count of 500 emails; no maximum 


  • Sample 3: General Programming 
    Natural mix of subscribers and individual ticket buyers to classical and pops concerts, randomly selected, then purged of Samples 1 and 2  

    Quantity:  minimum of 1,000 and maximum of 10,000 (shoot for at least 3,000, if possible) 

Generally, we sugges
t a look-back period of transaction activity from 9/1/2020 to the present date. Smaller orchestras might extend the look-back period to 9/1/2019. 
If you are unable to achieve the 500 minimum count of records for Sample 1, consolidate Sample 1 into Sample 2. If you are unable to achieve the 500 minimum count of records for Sample 2, consolidate all emails into Sample 3. Thus, some orchestras will only send messages to one or two samples/lists. 

WolfBrown will provide you with three different hyperlinks to the survey corresponding to each of the three samples, along with suggested language for the email messages. 

As a point of information, in our pilot test with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra response rates ranged from 5% to 10% across the three samples. Two emails were sent, an initial message and a second reminder message four days after the first one. The reminder message generated an additional 25% to 35% of all responses. 



  • Familiarize your team with the survey protocol 

  • We strongly encourage staff and board members of participating orchestras, especially those serving on an EDI committee, to take the online survey as part of your preparatory efforts.

  • WolfBrown will provide the liaisons from your organization with survey links on March 28. The liaisons should first test the survey themselves, and then share one of the links with board and staff members who are tracking on this project, so that everyone has a chance to familiarize themselves with the survey.  

  • A test version of the survey (formatted for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra) is available here. 

  • Given the sensitivity of the subject matter, it is likely that staff and/or board members will receive strongly positive or strongly negative feedback about the survey from a small number of ticket buyers, and we urge you to prepare for that eventuality by getting everyone on the same page as to what the survey covers and why the resultant information will be helpful to your orchestra. 

  • The protocol was designed by the WolfBrown team over the past six months, reviewed by outside experts, and tested for face validity in focus group discussions with patrons of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Numerous improvements were made based on this input. The modified survey protocol was then deployed to a large number of Detroit Symphony Orchestra ticket buyers in each of the three samples, which resulted in nearly 1,000 completes. Several more refinements were made after the DSO pilot. The survey is lengthy, but skip logic is used to shorten the length whenever possible. 

  • All survey respondents, after completing the survey, will be invited to opt-in to Audience Outlook Monitor’s National Panel.



  • You’ll have access to IDEA Study results in your dashboard as they come in on Tuesday, April 11. This will be your first chance to see the number of fully completed survey responses from your own patrons and everyone else’s.  

  • To access the dashboard tool, please create a password using your email as your username. If your email is not set up as a login, email Kacie Willis at to get added as a user. Once you’ve created a password, we recommend you bookmark our login page, so you can easily log into the dashboard directly.

  • Dashboard Orientation 
    Topic: A guided tour of the Orchestra Cohort dashboard, tips on filtering data, tagging open ended responses, and other technical information on the dashboard tool 
    Date: Wednesday, April 19, 2023 at 2:00-2:45 pm EDT/11:00-11:45 am PDT (45 minutes) 

  • We highly recommend the April 19 dashboard orientation webinar for anyone in your organization who is new to the dashboard or needs a refresher. Calendar appointments with a Zoom link will be sent to all liaisons. The recording of this session will be posted on this page. 

  • Upon completing the survey, survey takers will be redirected to an “Exit Dashboard” – an abbreviated, static dashboard page that provides results for a small number of survey questions for your orchestra (only), so that respondents can see how their answers compared to the answers of others. No open-ended questions are included in the Exit Dashboard. We feel that providing instant access to results will add an element of transparency to the process and help to maintain the goodwill of survey takers.

  • A successful learning experience depends on cohort members’ efforts to make sense of the results. This is not a typical study where the consultant conducts a statistical analysis and prepares a lengthy report several months after data collection. Instead, results are available through the dashboard, and the sensemaking process is crowdsourced by the cohort over a period of several weeks after data collection. The time you spend in the dashboard will reap benefits for your organization and for the cohort. 

  • In order to identify trends in the study’s qualitative data, quantify the frequency of certain responses, and find notable responses in the future, we encourage all organizations to add tags to their audience’s verbatim responses. We have created a tagging scheme to identify useful tags and to keep the tags consistent. Responses can be tagged by clicking on the response in the dashboard and typing the tag in the box below the responses.



Your participation in the various cohort learning activities will greatly enhance the value you get from your investment in the study. Up to four people from each orchestra can register for these events. All activities are optional. Recordings will be posted to the cohort webpage within several days of each event. The recordings may be viewed by any number of people within your organization. 


Activity #1: Pre-Deployment Webinar: Opening the Conversation 

Topic:  Is the audience a stakeholder in your EDI work? 

Date:  Monday, April 3, 2023 at 2:00-3:00 pm EDT/11:00 AM-12:00 pm PDT (60 minutes) 

Register here.

Activity #2: Small Group Study Session (webinar) 

Topic:  After a short orientation, registrants will break out into pre-assigned small groups to discuss a specific module of survey questions and generate takeaway observations, followed by report outs. Takeaways will be compiled in a shared Google Doc for all to see.  

Date:  Wednesday, April 26 at 2:00-3:30 pm EDT/11:00 AM-12:30 pm PDT (90 minutes) 

Register here.


Activity #3Culminating Session:  What have we learned? 

Topic:  WolfBrown staff will synthesize the takeaways from the small group work, and invite cohort members to reflect on next steps for their organizations. 

Date:  Wednesday, May 10 at 2:00-3:00 pm EDT/11:00 AM-12:00 pm PDT (60 minutes) 

Register here.


Here you can find an archive of all webinars, including videos, PowerPoints, and documents.


Pre-Deployment Webinar: Phase 1 Logistics (March 27, 2023)

Orchestra Cohort Webinar #1: Opening the Conversation (April 3, 2023)

Orchestra Cohort Webinar #2: Dashboard Orientation (April 19, 2023)

Orchestra Cohort Webinar #3: Small Group Study Session (April 26, 2023)

Orchestra Cohort Webinar #4: Culminating Session, Takeaway Observations and Discussion Questions (May 10, 2023)

IDEA Study, Phase 1 Survey: Report Template, Orchestra Cohort (May 10, 2023)

Download the PowerPoint here: 

Please reach out to our Manager of Audience Research Programs, Kacie Willis, with any questions related to the orchestra cohort. 


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