Hennepin Theatre Trust (the Trust), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, drives cultural and economic vitality in Minnesota through leadership of the Hennepin Theatre District (the District) in downtown Minneapolis and educational programming that reaches every area of the state. Our historic theatres — Orpheum, State and Pantages — light up Hennepin Avenue with top-tier entertainment, including the best of Broadway and a wide variety of arts programming.
Outside our theatres, we connect people to arts and cultural experiences such as the iconic Bob Dylan mural, large-scale banners, and live arts and cultural events throughout the District. The Hennepin, our new arts and cultural event center, provides affordable space to nonprofits, community groups and visual and performing artists. Our newest theatre at 824 Hennepin Avenue is the home of The Brave New Workshop, the nation’s oldest continuously running sketch comedy and improvisation group.
Read more here: https://hennepintheatretrust.org/about-us/.
Read more about our commitment to diversity and anti-racism here: https://hennepintheatretrust.org/diversity-equity-and-inclusion-statement/.
A website is one of the most valuable digital marketing assets an organization owns. The website serves as the organization’s business card – providing a variety of information about the company for our audiences. It also provides these same audiences with opportunities to take action and further strengthen their relationship with us.
In collaboration with cross-functional teammates and third-party partners, we will redesign the front-facing design and the backend functionality of HennepinTheatreTrust.org. Every decision will focus on improving the user experience for the many audiences of the Trust. We will aim to elevate the presence of the Trust’s program areas, more evenly distribute user traffic to these program areas, improve overall accessibility, position our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion to be front and center, and develop a site that leverages current search engine optimization (SEO) strategies from its inception.
Concurrently with the website redesign, the Trust will undergo a rebranding project. If the visual identity work is outside the expertise of the firm awarded the website RFP, it is expected that both of our partners will collaborate to ensure the redesigned website follows the new brand guidelines. The goal is to launch the new brand and new website on the same day. To review the Request for Proposal for the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s rebranding project, visit: https://hennepintheatretrust.org/organizational-positioning-and-rebranding-rfp/.
Additional brands of Hennepin Theatre Trust
In addition to the primary website HennepinTheatreTrust.org, there are two other organizations that live within the Trust that have their own identities. The firm selected to complete our website redesign should include guidance on how to integrate these identities into the new iteration of HennepinTheatreTrust.org. These identities are:
- Brave New Workshop
- In December 2021, Hennepin Theatre Trust purchased the assets of the Brave New Workshop (BNW) comedy theatre as well as the theatre space located at 824 Hennepin Avenue, in the heart of the Hennepin Theatre District in downtown Minneapolis. The Trust carries on BNW’s long-standing legacy of world-class sketch comedy and improv.
- BNW has its own brand. The theatre has its own history, logo, tone, social channels and website: https://bravenewworkshop.org/
- The Hennepin
- The Hennepin is a nonprofit event center located in the heart of the Hennepin Theatre District in downtown Minneapolis. All profits from events at The Hennepin support Hennepin Theatre Trust’s artistic and educational programs.
- The Hennepin has its own social media channels and website, which does not follow Trust branding and adopts its own look, to attract event planners or rental agencies: https://thehennepin.org/
The Trust’s diverse impact on the community and varied programming attracts a broad group of people who use the website. They include:
- Primary: External audiences of the Trust (ticket buyers, community leaders, program participants), Spotlight Education (students, educators, teaching artists, artist cohort members), donors, job candidates, renters, press, elected officials (local, state and federal) that represent the Trust, event planners or other parties searching for an event space.
- Secondary: Performance rental agencies, Broadway Across America, friends and family members of program participants.
- Tertiary: The board of directors, foundations and philanthropic organizations, Government boards and commissions, elected officials (local, state and federal) that don’t represent the Trust, corporate sponsors and partners.
Current website assessment
The current iteration of HennepinTheatreTrust.org holds several design flaws that neither adequately support the many program areas of the Trust nor accurately share our brand’s voice. Philosophically, the website does little to reinforce our position as a nonprofit organization. What is more, the current website faces inadequacies from a discoverability perspective within search engines, is not mindfully taking user experience into account and the variety of funneling opportunities for desired audiences and is built on outdated and limiting frames. The problem to overcome is twofold – we need a website that achieves the desired goals/outcomes of each department within Hennepin Theatre Trust and the visual design of the website should be reflective of current design trends and better represent our brand and voice. Lastly, to properly reinforce brand identity across all Hennepin Theatre Trust properties, intentional conversations are needed to create cohesion between all website properties (currently three).
Here is our list of current websites:
Desired outcomes for new website
As a result of this project, the following positive changes will occur:
- The user experience will be based on intentional funneling strategies so users can quickly retrieve the information they need to take action – sign up for a program, buy tickets, donate, etc. They will also find it fun and easy to explore the site.
- Increased revenue from such things as ticket sales and donations.
- The website will be a platform to share the stories of how the Trust is creating impact in our communities statewide and in the Hennepin Theatre District.
- There will be increased visibility for artists, arts organizations, partners and all programs within Hennepin Theatre Trust. We will be more effective at cultivating the careers of artists.
- The website will effectively reinforce the Trust’s role as a leader in downtown Minneapolis.
- There will be an elevated perception of Hennepin Theatre Trust as a nonprofit preforming arts center dedicated to the civic agenda and initiatives that celebrate diversity and drive equity and inclusion.
- The website will be flexible to adapt to the changing needs of a growing organization.
- Hennepin Theatre Trust’s website is comparable with other nationally known performing arts centers.
- The new website will be in alignment with the work completed through the Trust’s brand identity work (also completed during this timeframe in an adjacent project).
Indicators of success
The following sources of information will be used to determine the success of the new website:
- Increased revenue in the form of ticket sales and for donations made through forms on our website.
- Improvements made to our top web based KPI’s:
- Increased average time spent on site
- Decreased bounce rate
- Deeper page exploration by our audiences in each subject area
- The increased awareness of our programs measured by a shift in the number of users accessing sections of our website such as Spotlight Education, Public Art, The Hennepin, Brave New Workshop, our blog role and the About Us page.
- An increased awareness and/or stronger clarity about the Trust’s status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization.
- Shorter click paths for our users to capture the content they wish to receive. For example, shortening the steps it takes to reach a donate button. The same can be said for a patron to purchase a ticket to one of our shows.
- Meet or exceed industry standards for online accessibility as defined by the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines and Americans with Disabilities Act.
In this section, we’ve detailed a handful of necessary elements that will need to be considered when redesigning HennepinTheatreTrust.org.
- A rolling events feed – Given the nature of the Trust’s programming, the display of our ticketed events will be crucial for business requirements. This would include but is not limited to events that are organized chronologically and automatically expire past the performance date. This events roll will need to accommodate image assets, basic information about the show (date, time, location, name) and interactive elements to further lead users down the sales funnel.
- Robust event pages – These pages should include the ability to list show/event dates and direct users to get tickets as a primary function. Additionally, we would like to include elements that highlight important announcements regarding the show/event, built-in space(s) to host rich media (photos, videos), information about the show/event, easy to find information about open captioned and ASL friendly shows, flexibility to include supporting materials and more.
- Advanced filtering of content – With over 600,000 people visiting our venues for entertainment, we are seeking to provide a digital experience that makes it easy to discover events that meet the interests of our diverse audiences. Hennepin Theatre Trust provides a wide range of programming from Broadway performances to art salons and concerts to comedy shows.
- Strong and clear strategies to elevate fundraising efforts – The Trust is a 501(c)(3) organization, but we currently do not prominently display this information in high-visibility areas of our site. We’re aiming to elevate our nonprofit work and provide clear paths for users to navigate and discover how to support our efforts.
- Ecommerce/email automation information – We have two platforms to process event ticketing, a donation processor and one e–newsletter tool. The new website must be able to incorporate forms from these tools.
- Interactive elements – Specifically, we’re interested in pop-up elements that can provide additional calls to complete an action, but we are open to suggestions.
- Including a blogroll – Currently, staff at Hennepin Theatre Trust write content for a running blogroll. These can take the form of news stories highlighting a recent partnership, highlights of staff achievements, deeper storytelling about our art exhibitions and more. This is a feature we would like to bring with us to the new website build. (See our current blogroll: https://hennepintheatretrust.org/news/)
- A clean, consistent and approachable design – The current iteration of our website is text-heavy and does not suggest a clear path for users to follow when discovering information. We would like to partner with an outside agency to build strategic funneling paths for our users, one that focuses on the experience of every user that accesses our website. Our hope is that we can marry a strong user experience with a visual design that is pleasing and engaging to our audiences. Additionally, we need to establish consistency in the display of information across our website. If this is completed by templating key pages or by other means, it is crucial to setting the tone and giving our viewers something to expect when interacting with our content.
- Designed with accessibility in mind – The Trust strongly believes that all users should have equal access to the information housed on our website and the functionalities built into it. We’re looking for a partner that can help us design a website in a way that people can navigate, understand and interact with regardless of ability.
- Website search bar – A top goal of the website redesign is improving user experience. The Trust has a wide range of programming, and the use of a website search bar can help visitors quickly find the information they’re looking for to quickly act.
- Password-protected content – The Trust is open to suggestions regarding password-protected content on the website. Currently, we engage our board of directors and host business-related materials on our site for ease of access for this group and others.
Support and maintenance
Following the completion of the project, we will be seeking regular maintenance services to provide consistent and proactive support of Hennepin Theatre Trust’s website (HennepinTheatreTrust.org) in order to keep the site secure, performant, optimized for search engines and functioning in top shape during the agreed upon time period. Separate agreements will be drafted to cover the scope of the retainer.
Eligible respondents must:
- Have experience providing services like those described in the Statement of Work (SOW) listed above.
- Provide qualified personnel who have experience related projects.
- Be able to meet project timeline expectations with quality and on or under budget (provided scope remains largely the same).
- Describe how they support diversity, equity and inclusion.
Evaluation criteria and proposal format
We will award the project to the contractor that best meets the business objectives listed above and presents a plan that has the most value. Please organize your proposals with the numbered headings listed below. Please address all questions and topics mentioned in each section.
- Agency overview:
- Description of services you provide and why you are uniquely qualified
- Your mission and organizational values
- Brief summary of your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion
- Process and approach:
- Description of how you would approach this project
- Summary of how you typically work with clients (degree of collaboration, etc.)
- Proposed project schedule
- List of assumptions
- List of requirements considered critical to the project’s success
- An estimate of the cost for the initiative including your fees
- Any nonprofit discount or pro bono work
- Outline of assumptions that go into the costs and describe any services not included in the cost estimate, but are regularly incurred on similar projects
- Project team:
- Brief bios and role descriptions of each team member. Include relevant experience.
- Relevant experience:
- Two short case studies describing similar projects you have worked on
- Three client references
- A list of any clients that may pose a conflict of interest
- Additional Information:
- Support and maintenance policy
- Any other information we should know that shows why you’re a good fit
- Preferred branding identity partner(s) if applicable
The solicitation process for this RFP will proceed according to the schedule below. The Trust reserves the right to revise this schedule or any portion of this RFP by published addendum on the Trust’s website.
- Publication of RFP: September 1
- Ability to start receiving questions: September 1
- Question period: September 1 through September 20 (NOTE: Questions can be sent via email. Meeting in person or virtually to ensure a shared understanding of the work before sending questions is acceptable. We will make ourselves available for such conversations.)
- Last day to submit written questions regarding the RFP: September 20
- Proposal due date and time: Noon on October 6
- Post-proposal interviews, if required: October 10 through October 17
- Expected award of contract: October 24
- Project work begins: October – Summer 2023
- (New brand delivered by branding firm: July 1, 2023)
- Projected website launch: September 2023
Terms of contract
This RFP does not obligate Hennepin Theatre Trust to enter into a contract or award any work, nor does it obligate Hennepin Theatre Trust to pay any expenses related to the preparation and submission of proposals.
The Contract shall commence upon the execution of a contract by the Trust with the Awarded Contractor, with option for renewal at the Trust’s sole discretion. The contract term may not be extended except by amendment signed by the parties.
All prices are subject to negotiation with a Best and Final Offer (BAFO). The Trust may accept or reject any or all proposals and may issue a separate RFP for the services after rejecting some or all of the proposals. The services covered under this provision shall conform to the terms, conditions, specifications and requirements as outlined in the request. Any resulting contract may be amended only upon the issuance of a written amendment showing the revision(s) prior to the services being provided as agreed, approved and signed by both parties.
The Trust will accept only written questions and requests for clarification emailed for the attention of the personnel below. Inquiries and comments must reference this RFP. Send direct written questions to: [email protected]. Questions submitted to the Trust will be answered within two business days of receipt.
This project brief, and any information supplied by Hennepin Theatre Trust or any of its affiliates in connection with the preparation of a proposal, is confidential. It must not be disclosed, reproduced or used in any way by any agency except for the sole purpose of responding to this project brief. Likewise, all information that vendors provide in proposals and during negotiations, if held, will be regarded as confidential. Hennepin Theatre Trust will not disclose your proposal or interview results to other potential partners at any time without your express written authorization.
Thank you! We look forward to your response.