Brian Reich

Information moves faster. People are more closely connected. The expectations we all have for what we want to see and hear have changed. The kinds of relationships and the levels of support we want from organizations have been redefined. Our connection to the issues and events that define our world has been transformed.

The ubiquity of technology and the reach of the Internet make it possible to spread a message farther and have it be embraced by more people than ever before. The rise of social platforms leaves no doubt that we are one global, interconnected community and capable of taking action on issues we pas­sionately share. The available tools make it possible for everyone to have a platform from which to speak, and anyone to spark a bottom-up, grassroots-fueled revolution that has power no individual or entity could generate. However, the tools alone will not ensure that an arts organization, or any organization, is successful in communicating with, and engaging, audiences. Read the rest of this entry »

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Susannah Greenwood

The impact of our less-than-stellar economy has reared its ugly head this past year in several ways. Most disheartening perhaps are the many examples of arts organizations becoming more and more isolated (and shooting themselves in the foot as a result) as the fear of losing their audiences to other “competing” arts groups takes precedence over “how can we pool our resources for the benefit of all?” Although a tough concept to drive home on any given day, collaboration is at the heart of the “Partnership” part of the Artsopolis Marketing Partnership, and now more than ever we felt we needed to make it our priority to seek out ways to help engage different groups of artists and provide more creative collaborative marketing opportunities in a “safe” environment.

Interestingly enough, in the process of deciding to refocus on collaboration, we discovered this isolation was something Artsopolis was in the midst of dealing with internally as we were in the midst of trying to brand the local website for the first time in a long while. But, once we recommitted to actively encourage others to collaborate, we made a significant shift that allowed us to essentially practice what we preached. What started out as a brainstorm to get some viral video “commercials” made about why Artsopolis.com is so awesome, quickly transformed into an experiment less about us and more about our arts community. Read the rest of this entry »

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I think I have always been attracted to arts marketing because it allows me to use both creative as well as scientific talents. To this day, I might be the only person to graduate from Missouri State University with a major in speech and theatre education and a minor in mathematics. So it should come as no surprise that I take a very scientific approach to marketing.

In every campaign I lead, I constantly manipulate variables and note outcomes in an attempt to continually improve upon previous results. The easiest variables that marketers turn to are design and pricing. How many times have you tested a carrier package? an offer? pricing strategy? Probably quite a few times. Now think about how many times you have tested different timing schemes for putting products on sale.

This was the first year in my tenure at Arena Stage where we experimented with using timing as a variable. For almost as long as we have had mini-subscriptions, we have put them on sale at the exact same time as our full season subscriptions, fearing that instead of waiting or upgrading, our potential mini-subscribers would opt to go elsewhere for their entertainment. The fear of losing potential mini-subscribers was so strong that for many years timing wasn’t even considered a possible variable to test. Read the rest of this entry »

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I’M HERE BECAUSE OF …?

Posted by Mary Trudel On October - 6 - 20101 COMMENT

Mary trudel

Now that’s an interesting question for arts audiences…why are you here?  Research by the Urban Institute and others documents that “someone I know told me about it and asked me to join them.”  Audiences are people first, arts consumers second, and People who need People are the Luckiest People in the World! (As Barbra Streisand sang awhile ago.)

But our upcoming NAMP conference is focused on “New Tech. Tools. Times.” – so where are the people in our picture?  Of course, they’re everywhere and anywhere, any time and all the time.  Let me relate an anecdote from colleague Clay Shirky’s new book: Cognitive Surplus that illustrates the connective power of groups.

When South Korea unexpectedly lifted the ban on American beef a couple of years ago and news surfaced that US beef world return to the Korean market, Korean citizens staged public protests, turning out in Seoul’s “central park” in unheard of numbers.  The protesters were unusual – over half the participants were teenagers, most notably teenage girls.  Their presence helped make the vigils Korea’s first family-friendly protest, with whole families turning out in the park.  What would cause girls too young to vote to turn out in the park, day after day and night after night, for weeks? Read the rest of this entry »

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Proving What We Know Is True

Posted by Clayton Lord On October - 6 - 20101 COMMENT

Clayton Lord

As artists and arts advocates, we all know, deep down, that Art Matters.  But we continue to grapple with how best to talk about that value, to “justify” (a loaded word) or “prove” that the continued investment in infrastructure, arts education outreach and daily artistic input into the population-at-large is necessary to the creation of a tolerant, educated, empathic and energized society.  The great work of Randy Cohen and Americans for the Arts on the economic front, including the creation of the Arts and Economic Prosperity Calculator, have gone a long way towards standardizing the arguments around economic impact of arts and culture, and has essentially gotten us all on the same page.  But, and this language is getting to be a cliche, economic impact is only part of the answer – half of the answer at most, really – and getting to the point where we can talk about the intellectual, emotional, social, empathic impacts of the arts in the same specific, data-driven way as we can talk about the economics may open up a brave new world of advocacy for money, time and respect from the government, the funding establishment, the education system and our patrons. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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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.