Acknowledged as the nation’s foremost expert in Audience Development by the Arts &Business Council, Ms. Walker-Kuhne has devoted her professional career to increasing access to the arts. She has raised over $23 million in earned income promoting the arts to multicultural communities.
Award-winning arts marketing consultant Donna Walker-Kuhne calls the process of engaging audiences “a journey of life.” Throughout her career of 35-plus years, she has relied on deep sincerity and understanding of the diversity of cultures, religions, lifestyles, race and ethnicities as keys to creating new audiences for the 21st century.
She is founder of Walker International Communications Group Inc., a boutique marketing, press and audience development consulting agency. Her team has over 45 years of experiences specializing in multicultural marketing, group sales, multicultural press and promotional events. Walker-Kuhne has gained unique insights into the challenges of initiating conversations and building meaningful partnerships with diverse constituents. Her company has developed a brand reputation among performing art patrons of exposing them to high-quality productions and unique experiences in a way that exceeds audience members and clients expectations alike. This comes at a time when arts organizations are struggling to adapt to a rapidly changing cultural landscape and shifting demographics – evidenced by the growth of Hispanic, African-American and Asian-American populations and the rising consumerism of Generation Y and Z..
She is currently consulting as Senior Advisor, Community Engagement at New Jersey Performing Arts Center charged with developing and deepening relationships with targeted communities through partnerships, special events and group sales. She was formerly Vice President, Marketing and Communications for New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
A veteran of over 22 Broadway productions providing multicultural marketing and group sales most recently for Once on this Island, The Lion King, Aladdin, Smokey’s Joe’s Café Little Rock, HUGHIE, A Raisin in the Sun, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Gerswin’s Porgy and Bess, Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk, STICK FLY, Time Stands Still, Driving Miss Daisy and Ragtime. Her current non-profit clients also include Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, The August Wilson African American Cultural Center, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Staten Island Arts Council and HARLEM WEEK.
She was an Associate Producer for George C. Wolfe’s Harlem Song at the Apollo Theater and co-producer for the 2004 AUDELCO Awards. She is co-founder of Impact Broadway, a socially and technology driven audience development initiative serving 300 African American and Latino students throughout the 5 boroughs of New York City. These students have participated in Broadway productions, social networking and participation in seminars and lectures. She was formerly Director of Marketing and Audience Development for The Public Theater and Director of Marketing for Dance Theatre of Harlem.
She provides consulting services to numerous arts organizations throughout the world and completed her fourth lecture tour to Australia in June, 2017. She also has presented lectures at the University of Berlin, Germany on the topic of audience development in 2008. In the fall of 2011, she was a guest lecturer in Moscow Russia as part of American Seasons, the U.S. Bilateral Presidential Commission. She conducted 12 workshops to theater directors, artists, students and professors on the topic of audience development in Moscow. She returned to Russia in 2013 lecturing in Sochi, site of the Olympics. In the fall of 2016, she co-curated a week-long certificate program in Moscow on the topic of Community Engagement sponsored by the United Nations Cultural Exchange Forum. In July 2015 she presented a keynote speech for the PIAD VRYSTAAT Arts Festival in Blomfontein, South Africa and the National Arts Marketing Conference in Salt Lake City, and in 2016, she presented a keynote in Edinburgh, Scotland as part of the AMA Conference. Most recently in 2019, she presented a three day workshop on community engagement in Zagreb, Croatia.
She is co-founder of Bite the Big Apple, now in its 10th year, an annual multicultural audience development tour of Australian arts professionals to New York to experience diversity in cultural institutions. She is co-founder of Impact Broadway, a socially and technology driven audience development initiative serving 300 African American and Latino students throughout the 5 boroughs of New York City. These students have participated in Broadway productions, social networking and participation in seminars and lectures
Ms. Walker-Kuhne is the recipient of over 50 numerous awards, proclamations and citations including the 2019 League of Professional Theatre Women Rachel Crothers Leadership Award, the 2018 Support of Dance Award from Carolyn Dorfman Dance, 2015 Community Service Award from Women in Media, 2012 Women of Excellence Award from the National Action Network, Blacks on Broadway from The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, 2008 25 Most Influential Black Women from The Network Journal , 2009 Brooklyn College Managers for the Arts Salute Award and New York University Award for Teaching Excellence. She is an adjunct professor at New York University and Bank Street College. She was a facilitator for the National Youth Arts and Humanities Program for 15 years. She serves on several boards including Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Newark Arts Council, HARLEM WEEK and The Harlem Arts Alliance. She is vice-chair of The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, Arts, Culture and Entertainment Committee. She is a member of The League of Professional Women in Theater and the National Theater Conference. Her first book, Invitation to the Party: Building Bridges to Arts, Culture and Community, was published in 2005. She has a weekly blog, Arts and Culture Connections that explores cultural efforts to expand diverse audiences. Ms. Walker-Kuhne is a volunteer with the SGI-USA, a world wide peace organization serving as Vice Director for New York.