NoPurpose ¿ The purpose of this paper is to consider whether successful subsidised arts organisations are more likely to apply a relationship rather than transactional marketing approach to overcome the tendency of not-for-profit organisations generally, and subsidised arts organisations particularly, to use marketing for short-term, tactical purposes. \ud \ud Design/methodology/approach ¿ Research was undertaken to identify whether ¿successful¿ subsidised performing arts organisations were indeed more strategic in their focus, whether they had applied a relationship marketing approach and whether such an approach had been influential in the development of their ¿success¿. Preliminary research led to the production of a conceptual framework that identifies major partnerships and specific stakeholder types that need to be considered by a subsidised performing arts organisation if an effective relationship marketing approach is to be developed. This was used as the basis for subsequent research involving a multiple case study approach studying two ¿successful¿ theatres and one ¿unsuccessful¿ theatre in depth. The strengths of relationship between the various key stakeholder roles and artistic directors within the three theatres were analysed. \ud \ud Findings ¿ Although this research is limited to a case study analysis of three theatres, it does seem to provide evidence to suggest that building strong relationships with stakeholders other than end users can be advantageous to subsidised performing arts organisations. \ud \ud Practical implications ¿ It is likely that this approach could be successful for the subsidised arts generally and indeed for all those organisations in the not-for-profit sector where those who pay do not necessarily receive the service. \ud \ud Originality/value ¿ This article provides a discussion on successful subsidised arts organisations
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