John Eger

In the last decade alone, any business without a web presence—without an online, interactive website—was simply, not in business. Or wouldn’t be for long. The government and nonprofit sector soon learned their way around the internet too.

Now the Pew Charitable Trusts, specifically the Pew Internet and American Life Project, in a major survey covering 2007–2011 and involving 1,256 arts organizations, reported that: “The internet and social media are integral to the arts in America.”

The survey found:

  • 81 percent of the organizations in this survey say the internet and digital technologies are “very important” for promoting the arts.
  • 78 percent say these technologies are “very important” for increasing audience engagement.
  • 65 percent say digital technologies are “very important” for fundraising.

There seemed no question that web presence was “important” or “very important” although not everyone is persuaded—yet—that an internet strategy is a priority. Those reporting also felt that such technologies “disrupted much of the traditional art world” by changing “audience expectations, put[ting] more pressure on the arts groups to participate actively in social media and in some circumstances, undercut[ting] organizations’ mission and revenue streams.” In fact, 40 percent believe that “attention spans for live performances” are being negatively impacted.

Nonetheless, aggressively deploying new technologies was essential to maintaining forward momentum and efficiency. Fortunately, 99 percent of the organizations had their own website and 97 percent have a social presence on sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flicker, and so forth.

One of the more intriguing challenges cited in the survey is the necessity of providing existing supporters the maximum real time experience technology affords—indeed demands—and the opportunity to attract new audiences. Because the technology knows no boundaries, marketing—not only to existing and supportive members, but larger potential members or individuals— is open to creative techniques.

Sadly, the difficulty of finding the leadership in house to support projects’ and programs which expand the use of social media is difficult given existing constraints. Also, finding the financial resources to establish a web presence, get more staff to think about the importance of online communication has had its share of difficulties.

Funders too, seem reluctant to sponsor an online program or enterprise. They are used to supporting exhibitions, individual artists, or capital improvements but may be unaware of the critical importance of online efforts. This too, requires a separate undertaking by arts organizations.

The net positive to art organizations is clear. Technology has helped them be more accessible to more audiences than ever before. While the new technology has presented its share of challenges to arts organizations, the opportunities technology has opened far outpaces the challenges. Indeed, the new and innovative solutions social media offers to the arts is unparalleled.

(Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published the HuffPost Arts & Culture blog on January 4, 2012.)

4 Responses to “Technology Driving Arts Attendance, Engagement, & Fundraising”

  1. On the Theory of Iceality connection to the Arts/Environment/Online Technology

    National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman announced his retirement effective at the end of 2013 — but not without first publishing the NEA 2013 Challenge America Grants, a online Holiday/Christmas Gift to America that rewards the participation in the arts by people who help make communities thrive. Iceality is the measure of the connection between arts, civic engagement and the environment, which can be defined as promoting a positive and peaceful quality of life for the people.

    David Jakupca stated that the special ‘Theory of Iceality’ belongs to a class of “principle-theories”. As such it employs an analytic method. This means that the three elements which comprise this theory, Humanitarian, Environmental, Arts and Culture, are not based on hypothesis but on empirical discovery. The empirical discovery leads to understanding the general characteristics of natural processes. Practical models can then be developed which separate the natural processes into theoretical-mathematical descriptions. Therefore, by analytical means the necessary conditions that have to be satisfied are deduced. Separate events must satisfy these conditions. Experience should then match the conclusions.

    The special ‘Theory of Iceality’ and the general natural processes are connected. As stated above, the special ‘Theory of Iceality’ applies to all inertial physical phenomena and its relation to all other forces of nature.

    Although it is widely acknowledged that David and Renate Jakupca are the creators of Iceality in its modern understanding, not all of the Jakupca’s contemporaries accepted the new theory at once. However, the Theory of Iceality is now considered as a cornerstone of the modern global Environmental Art Movement.

  2. [...] Technology has helped them be more accessible to more audiences than ever before. While the new technology has presented its share of challenges to arts organizations, the opportunities technology has opened far outpaces the challenges. Indeed, the new and innovative solutions social media offers to the arts is unparalleled.  [...]

  3. Everyone always goes to the web to find what they are looking for, arts included, so the potential exposure and marketing for the arts has never been greater. It is exciting times we live in, and we should make the most of it for the arts.

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