Photo by Rodney Margison


With multiple forms of entertainment available to them, millennials generally don’t attend theater, says Cardinal Stage Company Managing Director Gabe Gloden. “Many theaters are facing this issue,” he says. “We’re doing something about it.”

What Cardinal has done is create an audience-development strategy called the Nest Generation initiative that will identify and sponsor 200 potential theater lovers under the age of 35. Nest Generation participants will receive complimentary five-play season ticket packages allowing them to experience all of the 2017–18 Cardinal main stage shows.

The Nest Generation initiative allows any 2017–18 season ticket holder to sponsor a five-play subscription package for someone under the age of 35 for only $35.

Sponsors may choose their recipients or let Cardinal select someone from their pool of prospective theatergoers. Cardinal identifies potential recipients in partnership with Rhino’s Youth Center and the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce Helping Young Professionals Excel program, and directs them to complete an online sign-up form. The only stipulation is that recipients cannot have previously held season tickets to Cardinal Stage.

“We do expect to hook people,” Gloden says. “Seeing five shows will get recipients used to seeing theater throughout the year. It will help make theatergoing habitual.”

Cardinal begins its 11th season in October, and Gloden says the productions, including Sex with Strangers; Saturday Night Fever: The Musical; and The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged), present characters and subjects with whom millennials are familiar.

Gloden hopes the “try it before you buy it” gift will inspire Nest Generation recipients to purchase season tickets in  years to come.

“Nest Generation is a great way to make arts patronage a community-driven experience,” Gloden says.

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