Navigation Menu+

Joanne Scheff Bernstein

Posted on May 1, 2015 by in issue #04 |


By Silvia Cuevas-Morales




Joanne Scheff Bernstein. Expert consultant, speaker, educator and author in the field of arts and culture management and marketing.


Joanne Scheff Bernstein was born in Chicago, Illinois. She studied administration and marketing of the arts and culture and has extensive experience as a speaker, seminar leader and workshop facilitator across the United States and internationally. A graduate with distinction from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society in business.

As an adjunct associate professor of Arts Management in the Business Institutions program at Northwestern University, she was responsible for teaching arts management, supervising independent field studies and facilitating arts management activities for students such as mentor programs, internships, volunteerism, and job search for more than ten years. She was also an associate professor of Arts Management at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management for eight years. She was awarded a Fulbright senior specialist grant to teach in the MBA program at the Helsinki School of Economics in Fall 2008 and has been a visiting professor in the Masters program in Arts Management at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy four times.

She was executive director of Lake Forest Symphony in Lake Forest in Illinois, a fully professional orchestra that primarily serves the Lake County region (August 2006 – April 2008) and interim executive director of Luna Negra Dance Theater in 2009. She is also a member of the scientific committee of the International Association for the Management of Arts and Culture (AIMAC) and a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Arts Management.

She has led seminars for many national, regional, and local arts service organizations in the United States such as the Houston Arts Council; the Philadephia Arts Council; the Association of Performing Arts Presenters; the Broward County Cultural Arts Commission; the American Symphony Orchestra League; the Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts; the Durham Arts Council; the Upstate New York Presenters’ Association, the Michigan Association of Community Arts Organizations; the Tennessee Arts Commission; the National Society of Fundraising Executives, and many others. She also taught arts marketing principles, strategies, and tactics to 120 musical theater managers and marketing directors in San Francisco under the auspices of the National Alliance of Musical Theatre.

At an international level she has given seminars and talks in Moscow; Seoul; South Korea; and Tokyo, Japan. She has also been a guest speaker and consultant in Denmark, Great Britain, Italy, Argentina, Venezuela and Spain. In the fall of 2000, she spoke and consulted in several cities in Australia under the auspices of the Australian Arts Council.

Some of the issues she addresses in her lectures and seminars are the different approaches for understanding current and potential performing arts audiences and application of consumer behavior theories to marketing strategies; the differences between marketing museums and performing arts and how to design, package and sell market-oriented alternatives to traditional subscriptions and memberships that build audience commitment and loyalty; the benefits of and approaches to Internet and email marketing, the various options for online ticketing systems, educating publics online, how to design websites and email messages that are likely to garner the best results and how to develop good customer service.

As a marketing and strategic planning consultant, Ms. Scheff Bernstein has worked with numerous non-profit arts organizations including theatre and dance companies, orchestras, chamber music groups, museums, opera symphonies and foundations which include the American Conservatory Theater, the San Francisco Ballet, Ballet Memphis, the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, the San Francisco Symphony, the Chicago Opera Theater, the San Francisco Opera, and the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University.

She was also a member of the Dance/USA task force for building audiences for the twenty-first century and consulted to the Ford Foundation on the development of management education programs for cultural entrepreneurs in emerging countries.

She co-authored, with one of the world’s most important marketing experts, professor Philip Kotler, the acclaimed and best-selling book Standing Room Only: Strategies for Marketing the Performing Arts, published in 1997 and which has been translated into various languages. In this book the authors draw on a wide variety of sources to review all of the key marketing functions – from segmentation to pricing to public relations – in the context of arts management. They argue that by embracing fundamental marketing principles and launching innovative marketing strategies, music, theater, and dance organizations can fulfill their artistic missions while building strong customer bases.

Most recently, Ms. Bernstein authored Standing Room Only: Insights for Engaging Performing Arts Audiences, 2nd Edition, published in May 2014 by Palgrave Macmillan. This is a comprehensive and newly revised sourcebook with up-to-date marketing strategies and techniques for theater, music, dance, and opera organizations. It presents the information necessary for attracting and engaging audience members effectively and efficiently. Bernstein presents vivid case studies and examples that illustrate her straegic principles in action from organizations large and small worldwide—strategies to help the performing arts develop a more diverse audience base and prosper in the midst of an evolving economic and technological landscape.

She has also published articles on arts marketing, strategic planning, and strategic collaborations in the Harvard Business Review, the California Management Review, the International Journal of Arts Management, Economia della Cultura, and other arts publications.

Selected Bibliography

Scheff Bernstein, Joanne. Standing Room Only: Marketing Insights for Engaging Performing Arts Audiences, Second edition, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Scheff Bernstein, Joanne. Arts Marketing Insights: The Dynamics of Building and Retaining Performing Arts Audiences. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass/Wiley January 2007.

Scheff Bernstein, Joanne & Victoria Schussheim. Marketing tras bambalinas: cómo crear y conservar el público para las artes escénicas. México, Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Dirección General de Publicaciones, 2008.

Scheff Bernstein, Joanne & Philip Kotler. Standing Room Only: Strategies for Marketing the Performing Arts. Harvard Business School Press, January 1997.


“Cultural Consumption in U.S. Museums and Performing Arts Organizations,” Economia Della Cultura, Fall 2002.

“Golden Rules,” International Arts Manager, December 2000/January 2001, pages 22, 24.
“Factors Influencing Subscription and Single-Ticket Purchases at Performing Arts Organizations,” An overview of results and analysis of an extensive market research project conducted for the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet, the San Francisco Opera, and the American Conservatory Theater. International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 1, Number 2, Winter 1999.

“Developing Dance Audiences: Lessons from America,” Arts Business Magazine of the United Kingdom, Nov. 23, 1998.

“Building Audiences for Dance,” Arts Reach, March 1998.

“Building Audiences for Dance,” Dance/USA Journal, Fall 1997.

“How the Arts Can Prosper Through Strategic Collaborations,” in co-authorship with Philip Kotler. Harvard Business Review, Jan.-Feb. 1996.

“Crisis in the Arts: The Marketing Response,” in co-authorship with Philip Kotler, California Management Review, Fall 1996.


For more information: