Marketing wiz Marcia Pendelton, CEO of Walk Tall Girl Productions.

Effective Marketing for the African American Theater Audience

by Marcia Pendelton

Growing the African American theater audience is both an art and a science. Using marketing techniques to expand and diversify a theater's audience requires knowledge of a community's event-going habits, as well as specific insights about financing, marketing, publicity, and public relations. The specific decisions and tools used may be different depending on the nature of the theater production.

Nonprofit vs. For-Profit

In today's New York City theater market, there are for-profit, nonprofit and hybrid productions. For-profit producers represent the great majority of Broadway productions. Alternately, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions are mostly accomplished by nonprofit companies. Hybrid productions, on the other hand, include for-profit Off- Broadway shows like The Fantastics, and Avenue Q. While this hybrid for-profit Off-Broadway market used to be much larger in the 1960s and '70s, today most Off-Broadway production falls under the purview of nonprofit theaters.

Hybrids also include companies that have both Off-Broadway and Broadway theaters, such as nonprofit Broadway producers like the Manhattan Theatre Club (Jitney), Lincoln Center Theater (Death and the King's Horseman) and Roundabout (Violet). Second Stage joined this hybrid club recently by purchasing the Helen Hayes Broadway theater....(continued)

To finish reading this article, purchase your subscription today and get this article and the rest of Vol. 23, no. 2 for FREE!

Marcia Pendelton is the founder and CEO of the New York City-based Walk Tall Girl Productions (www.walktallgirl, a boutique marketing, audience development, and group sales agency for the performing arts with a special emphasis placed on the theater. She has marketed many Broadway shows including Motown: The Musical, Jitney, Fences (starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Street Car Named Desire. Her recent Off-Broadway assignments include John Legend's production of Turn Me Loose, starring Joe Morton. This spring she is engaged to market Lynn Nottage's Broadway debut, Sweat, at Studio 54 Theater. She has also worked on behalf of many Off-Broadway theaters, including The Public/New York Shakespeare Festival, Signature Theatre, Classical Theater of Harlem, Second Stage, National Black Theatre, The New Group, and Manhattan Theatre Club. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from University of Maryland.


Winter Spring 2017

This article is featured in Vol. 23, No. 2

Also in this issue:

  • Colby Christina: "Triple Threat" Rising Star

  • 1960s Black Theater History: Reminiscences of an Actor Who Lived It

  • Editor's Notes: Why We Must Save the NEA

  • Arts Hotline

    To order this issue, send check or money order for $4.00 to

    Black Masks
    P.O. Box 6642
    Tallahassee, FL 32314
  • Subscribe Now!

    Have Black Masks delivered directly to your home.

    Marcia Pendelton's Walk Tall Girl Productions famous icon.