Deborah Obalil

So often marketing is boiled down to ways of communicating – or honestly, talking AT people. The newest tools of social media, while providing means to continue the constant barrage of messages sent out, hold their true promise on the other side of the communcations coin – LISTENING. Let’s face it, when is the last time you as an overworked, underpaid arts marketer took the time to listen to your audiences. I’m not just talking about customer service gripes, though those are very important to pay attention to. I mean, when is the last time you even attempted to strike up a conversation with your audience where they did more talking than the organization’s representatives? Before the advent of Twitter and Facebook, starting such a conversation was incredibly difficult for most organizations other than the super small ones where it happened naturally because everyone in the audience knew everyone in the organization. But today there is absolutely no excuse for not listening.

So what are some practical ways to listen? A number of arts organizations are giving it a try. Read the rest of this entry »

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Brian Reich

1) Shiny Object Syndrome. Organizations too often look to technology as the solution to their problems. They suffer from “Shiny Object Syndrome.” Organizations invest in a piece of technology or sign on to a particular platform after reading another organization’s case study, or because the developers/salespeople swear it will deliver a certain result. But the truth is, it is not about the technology — no widget or tool or database or network on its own will make your audience do anything. Technology can help host a vibrant conversation, facilitate an event, make the delivery of information more efficient (and in some cases compelling), or store all your data. But it won’t raise you money, help people listen, or get people off their couch to attend your performance. Arts organizations need to understand what is changing about how people get and share information and/or how marketing and communications must be adapted through those tools to reflect our more connected society if we are going to drive significant change. The understanding of how people use technology to create, consume, and share information and what their expectations are when it comes to interacting with an organization, or other individuals, is what is most important. Read the rest of this entry »

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Product is the first P

Posted by Deborah Obalil On October - 5 - 20101 COMMENT

Deborah Obalil

As a consultant and trainer on the topic of arts marketing, so often when I’m contacted by potential clients there is an assumption that all I’m concerned with is promotional planning. And even when reading about the topic of arts marketing or having discussions with otherwise enlightened arts leaders, we seem to often forget a basic tenet of marketing – Product is the first of the Marketing Ps. (For more information on the Marketing Ps visit www.artsmarketing.org).

Having worked in the arts management field for over 15 years, I know all too well why this happens. Product is the realm of the artists, marketing is the realm of the managers – or so the conventional thinking goes. The problem with this thinking is that it limits the organization’s ability to truly think strategically. The product is the core of the customer experience, which also means it is not limited to what they see on the stage or on the walls of the gallery. Read the rest of this entry »

TWC Likes Facebook

Posted by K.E. Semmel On October - 5 - 20102 COMMENTS

In a time of decreasing marketing budgets, social media platforms (especially Facebook) have become vitally important marketing resources for organizations like The Writer’s Center. When I began actively pursuing an audience for TWC on Facebook two years ago, I confess to having doubts about just what Facebook could do for us. Traditional advertising vehicles—such as TV, radio, and print media—seemed to be, or so I had been told when I was hired, the best means of reaching “our” core audience.  Facebook was, so it was believed, not something “they” would be interested in. Of course, I had no real data supporting or rejecting that belief (until the launch of our new Web site on July 1st of this year, TWC had no real way to track data). During my first year at The Writer’s Center I devoted a large portion of my ad budget to reaching that audience I was told was out there—just waiting to be converted: all we needed to do was put our ad in front of their eyes at just the right moment. Read the rest of this entry »

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Amelia Northrup

As a writer for the Technology in the Arts blog, I am constantly thinking about which topics will appeal to which artistic disciplines, which specialty, which skill level… and on and on. But the more I have to think about the segmentation of the arts management audience, the more I realize how broad many of the issues we discuss are.

A few months ago, I interviewed Alan Cooke of the e-fundraising company Convio, and we talked at length about the problem of organizational silos. In arts organizations, as in any company, conflicts often arise between different departments and may develop into an “us against them” mentality. As arts organizations become more prevalent in the social media space, it becomes easier to see which organizations have truly good internal communication between marketing, communications, box office and development departments.

We also tend to think that orchestra problems are unique to orchestras, theatre problems unique to theatres, and so on. For example, a few months ago I was at an opera conference listening to a presenter from another artistic discipline, when a colleague leaned over and whispered, “Ok, but what does this have to do with opera?” Unsure how to respond, I sort of nodded in agreement, but later, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. True, it didn’t have much to do with opera, but, I would argue, the point of the conference was to learn new things, not to be told about things we already know. Read the rest of this entry »

Ian David Moss

I have to admit it’s a little strange to be part of this excellent blog team on the subject of arts marketing. I’ve never pretended to be any kind of expert on the practice of marketing; though I’ve done a lot of it, I’ve frankly shot blanks a lot more often than I’ve hit gold. (Among my more brilliant ideas was to advertise that there would be no alcohol provided at my twenty-first birthday party. One person showed up.) What I do know is how to look at the big picture when it comes to the arts. And I know from having done a whole lot of that over the past few years that all of you arts marketers are way more important to the future health and success of the professional arts than you may realize.

One reason for this is that the live professional arts have always appealed most to a relatively small niche of society. The recent NEA Survey of Public Participation in the Arts shows that in the year leading up to May 2008, less than 35% of Americans participated at least once in “benchmark arts activities,” which collectively cover the bulk, though not all, of the disciplines and genres we have traditionally considered to be part of our field. That means that nearly two-thirds of American adults went the entire year without seeing a single classical music or jazz concert, attending a single musical, play, opera, or ballet, or visiting a single art gallery or museum. Let me repeat that in case it wasn’t clear: 65% of American adults did none of these things at any time in 2007-08. (By contrast, fully 99% of American households have at least one television, and there are actually more TV sets than people in this country!) Lest you think this is a recent phenomenon, in NEA surveys stretching back to 1982, equivalent arts activities never reached more than 41% of the population, and a landmark 1966 study of the economics of the performing arts by William J. Baumol and William G. Bowen found that audiences for classical music, theater, and dance in the early 1960s were similarly unrepresentative of the general population in both the U.S. and Britain. Then, as today, participants in the arts and culture are disproportionately socioeconomically privileged: almost half of arts attendees made at least $75,000 a year in the 2008 NEA survey, compared to 30% of the overall population, and arts attendees were nearly twice as likely to have a college degree as the general public. Read the rest of this entry »

Ron Evans

A year or so ago on another blog post I mentioned that there was a coming war, between the “traditionalists” or people (both patrons and arts producers) who want to produce and experience their art in a traditional style and the “new mediaists,” who want to bring out their cell phone in the performance, video it, and engage with it in a variety of different ways. That prediction has come true – I’m hearing a lot of stories about these two groups clashing, and it is still growing (and will be for awhile I’d imagine). Twitter and text messages seem to be in the middle of the fray, with sharp opinions on both sides. Let’s consider for a moment the different sides and arts organization can be on, in trying to cater to all patrons (a very difficult task).

The “traditional” presenting arts organization

The traditional presenting arts organization is usually led by an experienced leader/board, who has been running the organization for a long time (most likely before the advent of Facebook/Twitter/Text messages). Traditional behavior is expected from the audience – you should come in, sit down, read your program, clap when certain things happen, not clap when other things happen, and generally sit and watch and be entertained. It’s not cool to bring out your phone in the theater any more than it would be in church – the theater is a sacred space, where the art happens and you are there to see it by yourself, in person. You don’t contribute to the art being created – that is the mastery of those presenting. And to be clear, this format of experiencing arts and cultural events is TOTALLY OK. Read the rest of this entry »

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Artsopolis.com has a somewhat unique charge in their local community that involves two very distinct groups of folks; Arts Organizations and Audiences. Collaboration and technology are key parts of our mission and we’re always looking for ways to creatively bring artists together with other artists as well as lead audiences to artists/arts organizations. We are constantly asking ourselves “Is there any group or groups of artists that we aren’t reaching?”

Susannah Greenwood

Due to their large numbers, the short “shelf-life” of a gig (as opposed to say a four week run for a theatre) and the one-man-show-type setup of their marketing efforts, local independent musicians are where we saw a consistent gap in our communication and representation.  So, then we asked “what would a musician want that they don’t already have, that could help them to market themselves appropriately within this community?” The answer came back as… another question, “what if we had a vehicle for listening to mp3’s from local bands and linked that “player” directly to the existing events calendar? What if I could listen to a bunch of bands and when I heard one I liked, I could see who it was and search immediately when they were playing? And what if it was free to post the songs and free to listen to them? How awesome would that be? (We ask a lot of questions over here.) Read the rest of this entry »

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What’s Your Motivation?

Posted by David Dombrosky On October - 5 - 20104 COMMENTS

David Dombrosky

In a world where we are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages every day, our society has grown hyper-aware (and hyper-wary) of advertising in all its mutated forms – from magazine ads to product placement in television shows, from celebrities dropping brand names during interviews to Facebook pages used solely to increase ticket sales.  When it comes to using social media, motivation is a key factor in forecasting whether an organization’s efforts will succeed or fail. 

With motivation, I’m talking about the “why” not the “what.”  Often we confuse the question “why are you using social media” with “what do you hope to achieve with social media.”  Our answers tend to revolve around increases in attendance, ticket sales, registrations, donations, etc.  Many of us mistakenly perceive our desired outcomes as the reasons motivating our social media participation.

I say “mistakenly,” but for some people there is no motivation for using social media beyond increasing the bottom line.  Now, I know it is counterintuitive for me to proclaim this in an arts marketing blog salon, but here goes.  Social media sites are not marketing tools, they are engagement tools.  (Wait!  Don’t call me a heretic yet.)  When social media sites are used with a motivation for engagement rather than self-promotion, they often lead to those desired marketing outcomes of increased sales and brand awareness. Read the rest of this entry »

Harlan Brownlee

This past week, I was fortunate to participate in a workshop given by the Kennedy Center which presented the work of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (www.P21.org). A growing number of corporations and businesses around the country are becoming increasingly concerned that what we teach to students is not preparing them for our changing economy and providing them with the skills necessary to succeed in that economy. Described as the four C’s of the 21st Century, these skills include: Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, and Critical Thinking. Due to the pressure on schools to produce high test results, students only engage in rote learning in order to prepare for a standardized test. We are not teaching students how to be creative and innovative, but how to memorize and recite. We are not asking them to become problem solvers or to collaborate and communicate with one another. These are the skills needed by our future workforce if we are to remain competitive and prosper. I believe that arts education can address this fundamental gap in our educational system. Arts education is a vital piece of the educational puzzle that we are trying to solve and the arts have been marginalized for far too long in our schools. Artists engage in creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking on many levels. The four C’s are at the heart of many artistic processes. I urge you to support arts education. Our children deserve the very best education we can offer and the arts must be a part of that education.

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Alison Schwartz

The countdown has begun! We are only 6 weeks away from the 2010 National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) Conference: New Tech. New Tools. New Times. What better way to kick off a meeting about marketing, technology, and the new economic reality than with an online discussion with you and 12 top marketing practitioners and consultants in the field!  Join us on ARTSblog for a dialogue on the broad landscape of arts marketing, social media, and audience engagement.

From October 5-12, join us as we wrestle with and ponder on such questions as:

  • How are you innovatively engaging new audiences?  How does technology play a role in these strategies?
  • How are you responding the rise of the citizen critic and citizen curator?
  • Our cities and towns across the country are diversifying.  How is this changing your audience and how you reach them?
  • How is social media changing how you speak with your audience and what you say?
  • How are you stretching your marketing dollars further? How are smaller budgets and changes in funding streams informing your decision making?

We hope you will visit us in the salon and take a moment to leave a comment, share an opinion, or ask a question.  Then come to San Jose, November 12-15 to continue the conversation in person at the NAMP Conference.

On October 1, President Barack Obama released a proclamation declaring October 2010 National Arts & Humanities Month.  National Arts & Humanities Month was established in 1993 and is celebrated every October in the United States. It was initiated to encourage Americans to explore new facets of the arts and humanities in their lives, and to begin a lifelong habit of active participation in the arts and humanities. As the nation’s largest collective annual celebration of the arts, we want you to be a part of the festivities.  Find out how you can get involved by hosting or attending an event in your community.  Click here to share stories and images of your National Arts and Humanities Month events this October.

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Stephanie Evans

There has been a lot of talk about the creative economy coming out of Washington, DC, lately—from the NEA’s recent panel discussion last week on Creative Placemaking, to the Center for American Progress’ panel which discussed The Creative Economy:  How to Keep the Fuel of Creation and Innovation Burning (If you have an hour and a half, I highly recommend watching the video of this panel). Also last week, Partners for Livable Communities hosted a forum on Building Livable Communities:  Creating a Common Agenda. 

I was lucky to have snagged a seat at the sold-out and standing-room-only Center for American Progress Creative Economy panel, which took place on September 21. There were some key takeaways and important points that are worth repeating and sharing.

It’s also interesting that within the span of less than two weeks, three separate organizations (a federal government agency, a progressive think tank, and a national nonprofit) felt it important to invest the time and energy into the topics of creative economy and livability. I believe this is a reflection of the years of hard work and advocacy put in by many artists, arts administrators, advocates, journalists, and citizens who have pushed to get arts and culture to the center of the discussion around how we can begin to solve the economic and social challenges that are plaguing our country.  It’s uplifting to note that in some corners of our world (and U.S. government) that there are those who “get it.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Happy Birthday, NEA!

Posted by Tim Mikulski On September - 29 - 2010No comments yet

Lyndon Johnson signs into law the act that created the NEA

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts as on September 29, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the law that created the cultural agency.  

 Here is a list of facts regarding the Endowment that they provided in honor of the event. For more information, visit http://www.nea.gov/news/news10/NEA-45.html.

A compendium of statistics on the National Endowment for the Arts on the occasion of its 45th Birthday

September 29, 2010

Total dollar amount of NEA grants awarded to nonprofit organizations
in 45-year history: $4 billion (>130,000 grants)i

Economic activity generated by the nonprofit arts sector Ueach yearU: $166 billionii

Number of cities participating in NEA’s Mayor’s Institutes on City Design since 1986: 600iii

Average ratio of matching funds to NEA awards: 7:1iv

Rate at which arts participants volunteer compared to non-participants: 2:1v

Languages translated into English through NEA Literature Translation Fellowships:  61vi Read the rest of this entry »

Each year when we announce the opportunity to nominate yourself or a colleague to serve on an Americans for the Arts advisory council, the staff liaisons to those councils tend to get a wide variety of great questions from the field.  Questions such as:

  • Do I have to be a member of Americans for the Arts to be on a council? Answer:  Yes
  • How large are your councils?  Answer:  15 members
  • What time commitment is expected from council members?  Answer:  Click Here
  • If I’m elected to an advisory council, can I tell Bob Lynch what to do?  Answer:  No (okay, just kidding, we’ve never received that question)

A question we rarely get, and would love to answer, is:  Why should I nominate myself or someone else for an advisory council?  Here are a few thoughts to consider if you’re contemplating this opportunity:

  • Community Leadership

Being on a national council is a great way to be able to provide resources and in depth knowledge to your community.  Americans for the Arts council members work on issues that affect the field as a whole.  This work can help spark ideas for solutions that you can bring back to your own organizations and communities.   Read the rest of this entry »

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.