Costume designs help art museum draw new visitors

Like many museums, the Cameron Art Museum depends on high-profile exhibits to generate visitors and revenue.

Like many museums, the Cameron Art Museum depends on high-profile exhibits to generate visitors and revenue. After several stagnant exhibits, it got five-time Tony Award winner William Ivey Long to provide 100 costumes from shows such as The Producers (above), Chicago, and Hairspray for a unique exhibit.

Determined to maximize this opportunity, Cameron officials turned to Conover Tuttle Pace (CTP) for a campaign aimed at reaching an audience far beyond North Carolina's boundaries.

Strategy
CTP designed a multi-tiered campaign to raise awareness of Cameron, especially in the theater community. "We wanted to reach people that the museum normally wouldn't be able to get on their radar," explains CTP account director Todd Graff. The agency worked with Cameron's director of PR/events Amy Kilgore on a three-day launch in late April. Each day targeted a different group: media, dignitaries and benefactors, and finally the public.

Tactics
Both Graff and Kilgore realized their best asset in this campaign was Long himself, so they did all they could to make him the focal point of their outreach. "William gave us a four-to-five minute reel of all of his Broadway shows, which we included with a traditional press kit," explains Graff. "We set him up with interviews regionally, statewide, and nationally."

Results

The exhibit drew plenty of media, including national coverage from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Playbill, and Southern Living. More important, Kilgore says, "We were able to get close to 25,000 people to see the exhibit during its April to October run - a big jump in attendance for us."

Future

TCP's contract ended before the exhibit was over, but Kilgore stresses how pleased she was with the firm's work. "We're a small nonprofit with only 10 employees so it was great to have them helping with the media requests," she says.

PR Team: Cameron Art Museum (Wilmington, NC) and Conover Tuttle Pace (Boston)

Campaign: William Ivey Long Costume Exhibition

Time Frame: January-June 2007

Budget: Less than $30,000

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