According to Public Radio International, the first Cash Mob was started by a writer and engineer from Buffalo called Chris Smith to counter the growing culture of discounting (couponing and deals from Living Social as well as other deal sites). Now in over a dozen cities in the United States and Canada Cash Mobs are getting significant media attention. Organized online, the suggested rules are relatively simple and are centered around the concept that the business must be a local one and that a non-discounted product must be purchased for $20 or more by each member of the cash mob.
Cash mobs are most frequently organized through social media and can be found under the Twitter hashtag
#cashmob or on Facebook under cashmob and your city. As of the international cash mob day last March 24th, 2012 Cash Mobs have been organized in 32 states and two Canadian provinces. Growth of this movement has been swift with new cities joining cash mob lists every week and is sometimes linked with a buy local campaign.
The goals of many of these cash mobs are to save a local business who's sales have been low. By all indications there has not yet been a cash mob for a theater or museum but it is only a matter of time. As cash mobs are supposed to be social activities they would be well suited for many arts settings. The social media context for these activities have made them extremely easy to measure metrics on as each cash mob elicits numerous check ins and photo posts. The incentive for participation in these activities is a sense of community support. Non-profit arts organizations are fundamentally community organizations ergo the arts should be obvious beneficiaries of this movement. If anyone knows of a successful cash mob for an arts organization, please comment with the results and links if possible!