Crossing Cultures: A New Necessity? (an EALS Post)

Posted by Joshua Midgett On March - 8 - 2013
Joshua Midgett

Joshua Midgett

The expansion of marketplaces from local to global is rapid. As technology continues to evolve and the world ‘shrinks’, cross-cultural exchange and appreciation are vital to the success of an individual in any field. It is especially significant in the field of the arts, where so often culture finds its voice.

In a field where planning is already a difficult task, it is significant to discuss this expansion of perspective. The international aspects of audience, cooperation, cultural differences, and philanthropy add an extra piece or pieces to the organizational puzzle. This new challenge has not gone unnoticed by the arts management community.

Here at American University, a new Certificate in International Arts Management has been recently unveiled. Nearby, the Kennedy Center has been working with and training international arts managers since 2008.

Programs across the country are beginning take notice, and if entire degrees aren’t dedicated to the topic, many classes will be. While this field is as young as the technology that is accelerating its development, there is little doubt that it will soon be an integral part of any arts management training.  Read the rest of this entry »

What Marketing-Development Collaboration Really Needs

Posted by Jill Robinson On October - 2 - 2012
Jill Robinson

Jill Robinson

If so many arts leaders believe that marketing and development departments working together will generate better patronage results, why are so few organizations actually doing it?

To be sure, there are ample tactical examples of successful cross-departmental collaboration on campaigns. And, a few industry leaders are engaging in organization-wide patron development: Arts Club Theatre Company and 5th Avenue Theatre are two I admire.

But integrated patron management is far from being a mainstream practice. Perhaps it’s because true marketing-development collaboration requires change and new ways of doing things that most organizations find impossibly difficult—especially on top of everything else that’s necessary to keep the art on our stages and in our exhibit halls.

Look beyond the challenges toward a starting point.

Marketing and development need a bridge linking their often siloed departments. A couple of management initiatives and tools can build that bridge.

1. Integrated patron reporting. Most arts managers see their season as a string of single-ticket revenue targets, an exhibition with a visitor goal to hit, or an annual fund effort to bring in donations. It’s easy to miss individual patrons’ passion for your art when you are looking at them through the singular lens of individual campaigns.

Take this sample patron history. At first, you’ll mostly likely see it as it’s usually reported, along departmental campaign lines:

To marketing, this patron is a big-time subscriber:

But does marketing know, as the box office likely sees on their screen, that this patron has also been buying extra tickets? Read the rest of this entry »

Digital Myths, Lies, and Three Steps to Recovery

Posted by Adam Cunningham On October - 1 - 2012

Adam Cunningham

The biggest myth facing digital (and all the activities from social media, advertising, and marketing that fall under that title) is that it is still viewed as something that cannot fully track sales, being incorrectly lumped into the same categories as print, television, and radio.

In reality, 100% all digital activities can be tracked down to a dollar and cent value via 1×1 conversion pixels that can be placed at the conversion/thank you page for any client, selling any product, on all major ticketing systems.

Most verticals outside of the arts have realized this for years, and have adjusted their spends accordingly.

Looking at Lexus (a decidedly “older” car), recent data showed their spend allocation at 50% traditional and 50% digital/emerging technologies. For the always progressive Virgin America plan, 70% went to digital and 30% for traditional. Looking at Converse, 90% of the spend went to digital and content development (which, inevitably, is distributed via digital avenues) with only 10% left for traditional advertising means.

The arts, meanwhile, appear to be hesitant about shifting dollars. Read the rest of this entry »

Stories Have Impact, But How Do We Know?

Posted by Jen Gilomen On April - 30 - 2012

Jen Gilomen

We’ve all had the experience of sitting in a dark theater and being moved by a compelling documentary story. And as documentary mediamakers, many of us have felt that power materialize during animated discussions that occur with and among audience members when the lights come up for the Q&A.

But how do we really know if our films are having an impact beyond the walls of the theater, and how do we know that our film is causing something besides “clicks” and “likes” online?

At Bay Area Video Coalition, we’ve come a long way in our understanding of impact evaluation and its purpose. It used to be that evaluation was another box to check off in order to satisfy the requirements of our funders. We collected surveys at the end of each training or program, and when funding allowed, we began to track our program participants and projects over a longer period of time.

Our thinking about the purpose of evaluation began to shift, however, when we received a multi-year grant from the National Science Foundation that included a funded, dedicated evaluator to help us design and implement an evaluation not just for reporting purposes, but to create feedback loops that would shape future programming throughout the program’s lifecycle.

Participating in the design of this evaluation freed us to shift our focus from one of conducting surveys and basic reporting (for others, usually as an afterthought) to one of viewing evaluation as an opportunity to better understand the real and long-term impact of our work—for ourselves, so we could become more effective. Read the rest of this entry »

Are Subscriptions Dead? Maybe Not (Part 3)

Posted by Chad Bauman On October - 6 - 2011

Chad Bauman

In Part 1, Chad discussed how Arena Stage conducted research to determine if subscriptions still worked for their organization. In Part 2 and below, he discusses some of the tactical changes Arena Stage has made as a result of that work:

Eliminated Advertising, but Increased Direct Mail and Telemarketing.
Prior to 2008, 25% of our subscription budget was allocated to advertising. After exhaustive efforts, we could not trace a single subscription purchase back to our advertising campaigns. Therefore, we cut all subscription advertising, and refocused those resources on direct mail and telemarketing. In doing so, we completely revamped our direct mail and telemarketing campaigns.

In terms of direct mail, we would previously print hundreds of thousands of season brochures, and then mail them out in a few rounds of massive mailings. Our brochures were 28-32 pages in length, and functioned more as a branding tool than a sales piece.

Today, we send out 30+ direct mail pieces during each subscription campaign that specifically tailor the offer to the target. We have eliminated our subscription brochure, cut our design costs by 60%, and have directed all of our resources to testing message and offer. For more information on our new approach to direct mail, please read “The Future of the Season Brochure.” Read the rest of this entry »

Mapping the MarComm Continuum

Posted by Clayton Lord On October - 6 - 2011

Clayton Lord

As the marketing and communications director at an arts service organization, I’m often approached by marketing directors at our over 300 member companies with questions about various channels of marketing and communications.

Recently, a frazzled executive director at a small company (one of those that often doesn’t have a dedicated or even semi-dedicated marketing person) contacted me to have a conversation about social media. She had a board member who thought they could expand their reach dramatically by reaching out through social media, and she wanted to know how to create a Facebook page to do that.

I was sad to have to tell her that that strategy probably wasn’t going to work. The truth of the matter is that social media, like all the tools in the marcomm toolkit, has a specific spectrum of usefulness—and unfortunately, the type of social media interactions she was talking about just weren’t going to get her very much traction with people who didn’t know or care about her organization already.

Whenever I think about a marcomm plan, I work in my head with a very basic and non-scientific spectrum, stretching from what I term “engagement” (i.e. making those who already know you feel more engaged with you) to “development” (i.e. making those who don’t know you, well, know you). Read the rest of this entry »

When a Bigger Audience May Not Be a Better Audience

Posted by Sara Billmann On October - 6 - 2011

Sara Billmann

I’ve been thinking a lot about audience lately, and how we often we fall into the trap of marketing our performances TO certain audiences rather than thinking about what kind of audience experience we can design to attract the ‘right’ audience for the work that we’re presenting.

It’s a very subtle shift in thinking, but one that I’m starting to think can have a big impact on the work we do.

As a presenter, my involvement in the creation of any given work is basically non-existent. While I’m part of the curatorial team that puts together each season for our audiences, I seldom see the work that we present in advance and rely heavily on the press kit, recordings, and YouTube videos to gain a real understanding of the artists we present (ironic, isn’t it, that while we tout the importance of the live performance experience, we rely on digital media to understand it ourselves).

For most performances, that method works just fine – I either have past experience with an artist, or it is a relatively straightforward performance, and I have easy access to understanding the program and the artists. Read the rest of this entry »

Teasing Messaging Strategy Out of Research

Posted by Clayton Lord On October - 4 - 2011

Clayton Lord

At the place where marcomm* and advocacy meet, discussing our value in the landscape of possible activities is becoming increasingly important. Because at its core, both marcomm and advocacy are about where someone should put dollars, albeit on different scales.

In the most recent edition of WolfBrown’s e-newsletter, On Our Minds, Zach Kemp wrote about a study published in the Journal of Epedemiology & Community Health (abstract here) on the difference between the types of art that seem to generate the most health benefit for men and women. By looking at what the study calls “creative cultural activities” and “receptive cultural activities” (i.e. art that you do, like painting, singing, etc versus art that you watch, like theatre, concerts, exhibitions, etc) in a large-scale community study, the researchers were able to demonstrate, essentially, that women report more physiological benefits from doing and men report more physiological benefits from seeing.

This may seem a bit heady and esoteric, but I’m always interested in the place where hard science intersects with artistic consumption, as that’s often (if you dig) a good place to start thinking about good marketing. Read the rest of this entry »

Blog Salon Reflections: Art, Enterprise, & Equity

Posted by Ebony McKinney On July - 29 - 2011

Ebony McKinney

“We are witnessing new practices and challenges to old assumptions.” ~ Ben Cameron during the closing keynote at this year’s Americans for the Arts Annual Convention.

A sector transformation is underway. Today’s arts administrators, activists, and cultural entrepreneurs are fashioning new routes to mission fulfillment, while contending with diminishing grant funds, demographic and technological shifts, and audience erosion. The relevance of institutions is being challenged as much of the sector experiments with new opportunities for practice and participation. The expanding definition of ‘the who, how, and where’ is evident.

The role of enterprise in this shift is of great interest to me. This fall I’ll begin a graduate program focused on how to create the infrastructure and environment needed for cultural and creative enterprise to flourish. I know for some arts and enterprise are conflicting ideas – enterprise represents the commercial, the shallow, the crude and calculated manipulation and manufacture of cultural, creative, or artistic product, but I think that enterprise can encourage resilience, flexibility, and empowerment inside and outside of institutions. Read the rest of this entry »

Entertainment is Survival (and a crowbar?)

Posted by Robbie Q. Telfer On July - 28 - 2011

Robbie Q. Telfer

I often encounter so-called “serious” artists who scoff at the idea that what they’re doing is entertaining. Art should raise up its audience, not stoop to meet them.

I certainly agree that art must challenge audiences, but if you’re not considering the entry points for your audience, then you’re not a serious artist at all. You might just be an insecure gatekeeper.

Essentially, entertainment is a contract of considerate communication with strangers. Entertainment is not a distraction or empty goal. Entertainment is noble; it is the way we survive our mortality without slipping into depression.

To produce events with entertainment in mind means you are interested in your audience enjoying and receiving the messages you want to proffer. This is what I’ve learned from the initial concept behind the poetry slam created by Marc Smith, and used as a foundation for the Encyclopedia Show: if you are not creating art to commune with an audience, then you are creating art that you think people should be obligated to digest. Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons in Innovation from “Door 2 Door”

Posted by Shelby Morrison On July - 27 - 2011

Shelby Morrison

All in all, our “Door 2 Door” program was a success.

There are some hilarious failures to talk about, which include a prospect calling the police after suspicions of terrorism and the group dancing on the lawn of a prospect that had security cameras – all of the types of mishaps you can imagine when showing up at a strangers doorstep.

The project gained us a significant donor and our current board chair, which is exciting.

When our organization looks at new projects or considers some type of change or innovation, whether it be development or program related, we always consider the following: Read the rest of this entry »

Jeanie Duncan

(Continued from Part 1 posted earlier this week)

Process: Constituency Research Yields Insight

As we surveyed our situation, we knew our approach could not be a typical strategic planning process. Board and staff discussion charted an outside-in strategy for data gathering. Our selected consultant was a branding, PR, and market research firm whose representatives reminded us from the beginning that “it doesn’t matter what you think. What matters is what your customer – the community – thinks.”

With the potential for change to be significant, it was essential that the United Arts Council of Greensboro (UAC) communicate openly, early, and often to the constituents who relied on our funding, as well as their core audiences and supporters. For some agencies,our investment comprised as much as 20 percent of their contributed revenue. Regardless of the percentage, the resource was critical; we wanted to mitigate negative impact while giving historically funded agencies ample lead time for planning and preparation.  Read the rest of this entry »