5 Suggestions on How to Build a Loyal and Happy Audience

Posted by Shoshana Fanizza On October - 4 - 2012

Shoshana Fanizza

Every time I send out an email or post to my blog, I end with my signature, “Cheers to happy and loyal audiences” and a quote by James Stewart, “Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”

I am a firm believer that building a happy and loyal audience is exactly where our focus needs to be, and treating your audience as a partner is one of the many management shifts we can make in order to create a happy and loyal audience.

So, you want an audience that supports you, and you want them to be loyal to keep them coming back for more. What are some actions you can take to make this happen?  Here are my top 5 suggestions to get you started:

1. Begin with knowing yourself.

If you don’t know who you are and what your art is all about, how will you be able to attract the right audience for you and your art?

This step means defining who you are down to the letter so you can brand properly and set up your marketing messages to speak clearly about who you are, what your art is, and provide the exact image that matches you and your art.

This is a crucial step. I have seen many artists and arts organizations that are not well defined, and their brand is mainly a copycat of their industry at large. What makes you unique is a better objective and will attract the best audiences for you.

2.  Get to know your audience.

When I start a session to discover information about a client’s audience, I mainly ask both demographic and psychographic questions. I am finding that most of us know the demographics. However, when I ask what the main hobbies their audience enjoys or what other art forms they go to or if they have any issues with your venue, I usually get the answer “I don’t know.” Read the rest of this entry »

A Moving Picture is Worth a Million Words

Posted by Katherine Mooring On October - 3 - 2012

Katherine Mooring

“Charlotte in 2012″ is becoming quite a theme this year, as we prepare to welcome our fabulous arts marketing and development peers from across the country to the National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) Conference in November, just months after serving as the host for the recent Democratic National Convention (DNC).

Our arts community played a critical role in the DNC from day one—not only as a major player in the process that led to Charlotte’s selection as the convention site, but also as primary partners for major events like CarolinaFest 2012, delegate parties, and even The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which broadcast from the stage of our local children’s theatre.

Gearing up for this national spotlight gave our local arts marketing minds a chance to show off the myriad ways we impact and enliven our community like never before. Video emerged as the primary medium for these messages, as Charlotte artists and arts organizations told their stories to new, national audiences in creative and compelling ways. Here’s one example:

From the more formal, host-committee directed promotional pieces, to a visionary, community-side initiative known as the Charlotte Video Project. Read the rest of this entry »

Janet Langsam

Does art on the wall help lease up a building? “Absolutely, it does,” according to Mark Alexander one of the principals in The Horizon at Fleetwood, a luxury residential building in Mt. Vernon, NY.

The art that a business chooses for their establishment reflects what the business wants to say about itself. Art speaks to the culture, self-expression, and creativity of a place. Following a successful art exhibition at the property, Mark Alexander explains further: “Highly visible art can create a mood, promote pride in place, and raise the level of energy in the space where it is located.  In short, great public art can be great for business.”

Alexander continues, “when we launched our collaboration with ArtsWestchester with the installation of “Contemporary Rhythms,” The Horizon was 50% occupied. And now, as we close the exhibition we are fully leased. Did the art exhibition contribute to the overall positive energy in the building and our marketability? Absolutely.”

Art and real estate merged in the innovative partnership ArtsWestchester recently launched with The Horizon at Fleetwood. The joint initiative establishes a promising business model aimed at highlighting local artists in a fresh way and introduces vibrancy to a new residential community.

“The Contemporary Rhythms” exhibition, curated by ArtsWestchester, launched the relationship between building management and ArtsWestchester and presented more than 30 abstract works by seven Westchester artists in a professional exhibition for a four-month term. ArtsWestchester will curate two additional exhibitions at the property throughout the coming year, providing an ongoing cultural amenity for residents.

The concept of blending the arts with real estate ventures has proven successful in the past. Real estate development company Kessler Enterprise, Inc. is known for integrating art projects into luxury hotels and resorts by hosting monthly art exhibitions and receptions. Manhattan’s Flatiron Hotel created a performance space with a stage in their uniquely designed lobby area, allowing visitors to connect with the city’s theatrical presence. In turn, the hotel is becoming an integral part of its nearby artistic community. Read the rest of this entry »

Local Arts Agency Fills in the Arts Education Gap for School District

Posted by Rob Schultz On August - 21 - 2012

Rob Schultz

One of the more disturbing trends in our local public schools is the reduction of classroom time devoted to non-tested subjects. Despite the arts being labeled as “core,” tested areas of the curriculum are among the few things receiving adequate time and resources from strapped school districts.

Going the way of the horse-drawn carriage are things like music, chorus, theater, and visual arts, as well as formerly routine components of a well-rounded education such as recess, and field trips.

For those of us who work outside of public school systems but are determined to provide children with quality arts opportunities, one answer lies in building effective partnerships with our schools.

For many years (decades, actually) the Mesa Arts Center has worked with our local public school system as a partner in delivering accessible programs. For several years, grant funding allowed us to bring fifth graders from a 100 percent at-risk school to our arts center for targeted, afterschool activities in both visual and performing arts, taught by our full-time arts instructors. While the school didn’t have resources for transportation, our grant provided it—from school to the arts center, and we took them home.

More recently, for the last six years the arts center has used funding from our own Foundation to present our “Basic Arts” program at another elementary school. This program focuses on literature, with the school hosting our teaching artists and kids learning about a literary story. As a finale, the students are brought to the arts center to see the story performed live on the stage of one of our theaters, followed by talk-back and Q&A with the actors and director.

As we saw the results of these two programs and the benefits they bring to underserved children, we committed to hiring a full-time Arts Education Outreach Coordinator to really move things into high gear and create other partnerships.

Under her direction, we began a Creative Aging Program that brings a visual artist and a dance artist to assisted living facilities to work with ambulatory seniors, as well as a group of seniors afflicted with dementia; the Culture Connect Program, which provides free theater tickets to area schools so their students can attend performances, participatory activities, workshops, literature, and live artist demonstrations; and a comprehensive Jazz A to Z Program that uses the National Endowment for the Arts’s Jazz Curriculum as a guide to provide students opportunities to improvise, analyze, synthesize, engage in group collaborations, develop an individual voice, and broaden cultural perspectives—all through the uniquely American medium of jazz. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Am I and What Difference Does It Make? (Part II)

Posted by Victoria Ford On August - 15 - 2012

Victoria Ford

My summer internship with Americans for the Arts has regrettably come to an end. If I knew an inch about marriage, I’d say this feels a lot like the ride back from the honeymoon. Which I mention only to suggest how uneasy I feel saying farewell to ten weeks worth of swimming through everything art. With people who love it so tremendously, they fight for it each day.

It’s times like this when every instruction kneaded into my writing toolbox knocks on my door and offers itself to me—mostly to make sure each emotional simile this blog post doesn’t need can be prevented, like overlooked leaks beneath the kitchen sink (they persist, nonetheless).

At any rate, the advice knocking today is this: “Kiss the beginning.” And I think it’s only right to revisit the very first question I posed this summer (presented to you in the title), to see what many experiences I’m able to offer at its side.

As I mull everything over now, though, I’ll present just a couple. These two ideas, I hope, should suffice.

So to begin with a lesson I’ve learned on this journey, which is less about art and more about being human: I am small. This is not a commentary on my physical stature, but more on my existence and each of our lives. We are unfathomably small.

It’s hard for me to grapple with this truth, because since conception we’ve been taught and treated otherwise. The idea of our singular importance persists by way of talent shows, academic ceremonies, sporting and artistic competitions, promotions, and so on. And it’s not my wish to attack the way our societies reward this measure of our own greatness. If anything, with the Olympics as a perfect example, a single person’s achievements help to heal and unite an entire nation. Read the rest of this entry »

Proving the Economic Power of Local Arts Agencies

Posted by Theresa Cameron On July - 13 - 2012

Theresa Cameron

Well its official, our Local Arts Agency Blog Salon (catch up and read all of the posts with that one easy link) was a home run!

We heard from more than 20 bloggers representing all parts of our great nation about ways communities and their arts economic development strategies are being harnessed to create the 21st century creative community.

This week, bloggers have given very specific examples of how having the right message and the right data can help propel a community forward. The arts at the local level are being taken seriously because of the data, the stats, and the vision.

We all know that the arts are very important for many reasons but it was particularly interesting to hear from bloggers about how having the right data can get you a seat at the table to make your case.

In particular, it was interesting to learn from the corporate side about how to present arts and economic impact data to corporate funders—and that there are many layers of messengers before the data gets to the CEO—and that doing your homework will help you overcome the objections and obstacles with that potential funder.

I loved seeing the photograph of the Mona Lisa on the dollar bill from The Omaha World-Herald.

And what about Boise? Who knew that Boise is the most geographically-isolated urban area in the lower 48 and that the arts infrastructure has helped shape the city create a haven for arts organizations?

So, many thanks to our wonderful, diverse group of bloggers. They are the “rock stars” of using the research and data to shift ways community leaders are thinking and using the arts as a local development strategy!

A quartet plays as part of Beet Street’s Streetmosphere summer program.

It seems like the arts are finally gaining some traction—the whole country is paying attention to arts as an economic driver.

The National Governors Association just released a great new study that identifies five tactics for using arts, culture, and the creative industry as economic development tools.

They are actually encouraging state governments to include the arts and creative businesses in their economic development strategies, providing new incentives and programs that can help our industry grow and finally be counted for the incredible impact we have on the economy.

Here in Fort Collins, our community has embraced the notion that our community is better because of its arts for years. We have won numerous nationwide awards including Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Live.” The awards are due the incredible quality of life we enjoy—thanks in large part to the many artists and arts organizations who make our whole town buzz with activity and creativity.

Last year, Fort Collins was also awarded the 2011 Governor’s Arts Award by Colorado Creative Industries and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade that recognizes a Colorado community for their collective efforts to enhance their community and their economy through strategic use of the arts.

What helped set the stage for the Governor’s Award included the Downtown Development Authority’s formulation of Beet Street in 2007 and the adoption of the City of Fort Collins Cultural Plan by the Fort Collins City Council in 2008. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts at the Core of a Growing North Dakota Community

Posted by Terri Aldrich On July - 13 - 2012

My community (Minot, ND) is in a very unusual position.

In 2011, a 500-year flood devastated our community and displaced 12,000 residents (nearly one-third of our population). This week marked the one-year anniversary of the evacuation sirens and many homes have yet to be “mucked out.”

On the other hand, the oil industry here has created a growing economy, increasing our tax revenue and boosting airport boardings to record levels. Our airline traffic has increased from four flights daily to 18. We have had growth and devastation all in the same year.

During the time, Minot arts organizations and artists have helped to raise funds, raise spirits, and raise awareness. Our Fifth Annual Integrity Jazz Festival is a perfect example. Sponsors from the community stepped up to the plate to present this event free of charge to the public in cooperation with the Weekend of Hope, a celebration of a community rebuilding. Survey responses indicated that 30 percent of our attendees came from outside Minot. They bought food, gasoline, and artwork, putting dollars into our local economy while hearing some great jazz music in a beautiful outdoor setting.

The evidence of the economic impact of the nonprofit arts industry in Minot is detailed in the Arts and Economic Prosperity IV (AEP IV) data. The nonprofit arts industry has a $9.9 million impact that supports 225 full-time equivalent jobs. That number represents an increase of $1.4 million from the 2005 AEP III data! Read the rest of this entry »

Tracy Graziani

At the recent Americans for the Arts Annual Convention the Arts and Economic Prosperity IV research was released to the public and the media. One of the trends noted in the presentation is the increasing urbanization of America. More and more people are moving to cities. This reality is posing unique challenges for small and medium-sized cities and towns.

In the 90s the big box stores descended upon Middle America with pervasive force, edging out “mom and pop shops” left and right. Some bemoaned the change, others viewed it as progress, and ultimately the “boxes” took over.

In the recent economic downturn many of those big box stores have left small towns, or significantly reduced their inventory. Now the residents can’t buy what they need at the big box or the “mom and pop,” so they turn to the internet or drive to a larger town. Of course the problem with this is that the commerce is then benefiting another community either where the online business resides or simply a bigger city in another county nearby.

The decreased tax revenue as well as the loss of commerce has a direct negative impact on the livability of these communities. Either the taxes have to go up or public services like nonprofits, schools, police, fire, and roads suffer. At least in our small town, the latter is what we have faced.

This leads us back to where we started—the research. When the livability of a community is subpar, educated and affluent people are more likely to leave, hence the migration to larger cities and towns. Some people even refer to this migration as “brain drain.”

Mansfield, OH, is a town that typifies this scenario. The arts organizations, nonprofits, and public services are all struggling to find their way in an economy that is increasingly unfriendly to small towns. The people of Mansfield, like the people in countless small towns across America, love their community and have high hopes for reviving their hometown. They have come together in some interesting ways as we adapt to the tougher times. Read the rest of this entry »

For Lee County, Economic Impact Data is a Homerun for the Arts

Posted by Lydia Antunes Black On July - 12 - 2012

Lydia Black

The Southwest Florida nonprofit arts community has always argued the economic and social value of the arts community. We’ve advocated on behalf of our creative community; engaged the public in conversations about the depth and breadth of our cultural offerings; boasted large attendance numbers; and, painted a picture of arts as placemakers and the heart and soul of community.

And until recently, we advocated for the arts by estimating economic impact numbers, by supposing that indeed there was an economic impact. Our advocacy lacked the confidence that would have been buttressed by language informed by hard data. Well not anymore.

With the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study in hand, we can definitively say that our arts and culture industry is an economic and social powerhouse. In 2010, during arguably the worst economy in recent memory, Lee County’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $68 million, supported more than 2,000 full-time jobs, and pumped $9 million into local and state coffers.

For a county that speaks the language of baseball, that number is more than the estimated $45–50 million generated here by the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins, combined.

Many in the cultural community have lamented the fact that the arts industry is always justifying its existence to state and local officials in return for small investment dollars. Yet, at the same time, many of us in the arts community were doing nothing to change our language to that which public officials and business leaders could relate—namely dollars, jobs, and return on investment.

The economic impact study results have already helped to shift the discussion of the arts industry from one of entertainment, education, and inspiration to one of the arts industry as an integral economic engine in the county. Read the rest of this entry »

San Jose: The Arts at the Heart of Economic and Cultural Development

Posted by Kerry Adams-Hapner On July - 12 - 2012

Kerry Adams-Hapner

Let me begin by saying this: art is at the heart of everything we do. Preserving, advancing, and celebrating culture and expression is our fundamental mission here in San Jose’s Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA).

We strategically position that mission to align with economic development goals, which is authentic to our city’s culture and climate, benefits the sector and enables us to advance our core mission. I don’t have that “intrinsic” versus “instrumental” debate; intrinsic impact is a foregone conclusion for me and the economic benefits enable strategic alignment, a.k.a. partnerships and resources.

In San Jose, the OCA is a division of the Office on Economic Development. I am both the Director of Cultural Affairs and a Deputy Director of Economic Development. Recognizing that a vibrant community attracts talent, and talent attracts companies, our economic development strategy fosters the vital cycle between cultural development (the arts), workforce development (the people), and business development (the companies).

We fulfill our cultural development goals through three primary strategies: attracting and retaining destination quality events; promoting high quality public art and placemaking; and providing arts industry support.

We foster the arts industry through nonprofit grants and support, cultural facility management, and support for creative entrepreneurs—comprised of artists and the commercial creative sector. Each function has its inherent, intrinsic cultural value—celebrating heritage, creativity, and the arts. And yet, we celebrate and amplify the economic side of these functions—culture as a catalyst for business through the nonprofit and commercial industries.It is also a means of building a sense and brand of place, a magnet to attract other industries. Read the rest of this entry »

Documenting the Return On Our Investments

Posted by Robert Bush On July - 11 - 2012

Robert Bush

We love data at the Arts & Science Council (ASC).

We are fortunate to have access to resources, but we also have to make choices about how we direct them to support the sector, and research pays off every time. It allows us to connect with donors, elected officials, the chamber of commerce, and others about the impact of programs and services, as well as economic development efforts.

We are also fortunate to have the resources to commission research. For 10 years we have done a public opinion telephone survey through the Urban Institute at UNC-Charlotte. Since 2006, we have worked with WESTAF on the Creative Vitality™ Index; but, our biggest research partner has been and continues to be Americans for the Arts. Whether it is annual local arts agency surveys, past salary surveys, or United Arts Fund surveys, we fill them out.

While we love all of our partners, the most important (and requested) research we share with stakeholders is the results of our Arts & Economic Prosperity economic impact study conducted every five years.

Yes, it requires staff time to remind and nudge, coordinate audience intercept surveys, and make certain that every local cultural group had the opportunity to participate. Thanks to the vision of the North Carolina Arts Council, beginning with Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, we have statewide data and information on each of the regional economic development areas of the state.

You may think, those people in Charlotte have more money than sense to be investing in all this data, but this data gets us noticed—by donors, corporations, elected officials, chambers of commerce, and the list goes on.

I believe in art for art’s sake but I also know that numbers matter—balanced budgets, profits, and attendance figures to name a few. They help us tell our story in terms that people can understand. Read the rest of this entry »

Olga Garay

With a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Mayors’ Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative received in 2009, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA/LA) launched the planning stages for the “Broadway Arts Center” (BAC).

Envisioned as a mixed-use affordable artists’ housing, performance/exhibition space, educational facility, and creative commercial center, and located in the Historic Broadway Theater District in downtown Los Angeles, the birthplace of vaudeville and cinema in the city, the BAC has been embraced by city government and the arts community alike.

In spite of its rich history and tremendous future potential, Broadway is currently viewed as not meeting its potential in a number of different ways. Broadway bustles during the day, but merchants are struggling with a 15–20 percent ground floor vacancy rate. This ground floor struggle is made worse when viewed in the context of more than a million square feet of vacant space in the upper floors along Broadway.

And while some theatres have been reactivated, most of the glorious historic theaters do not offer regular entertainment programming, and Broadway doesn’t serve the needs of the diverse downtown community—especially at night. DCA/LA strongly believes that this situation will quickly turn around when a cadre of artists, professors, and college students, living and working in the area, make Downtown their home.

Led by DCA/LA, the core project team includes the City Planning Department’s Urban Design Studio and Bringing Back Broadway, a 10-year initiative to revitalize the historic Broadway corridor.

Nonprofit partners include The Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, a service organization dedicated to creating affordable housing for performing arts professionals; Artspace, the country’s premier organization dedicated to developing affordable spaces for artists and arts organizations; Local Initiative Support Corporation, an organization dedicated to helping nonprofit community development organizations transform neighborhoods; and the California Institute for the Arts (CalArts), an award-winning higher education institution dedicated to training and nurturing the next generation of professional artists. Read the rest of this entry »

Hartford: City/Arts Council Partnership Creates Jobs

Posted by Cathy Malloy On July - 10 - 2012

Cathy Malloy

One of our favorite catchphrases is “the arts are the backbone of our region.” And that is especially true of the City of Hartford, where arts, heritage, and cultural organizations are so ingrained in the local economy.

They are a primary driver of tourism, welcome millions of visitors each year, and support hundreds and hundreds of jobs; the arts have a huge impact on the service sectors—like restaurants, parking lots and small businesses—that depend on an influx of patrons from the surrounding suburbs.

Without the arts, Hartford would be just another commuter town, a nine to five destination for state and city employees.

The best illustration of the importance of the arts to the city’s economy is the Hartford Arts and Heritage Jobs Grant Program, one of the many grants initiatives managed and administered by the Greater Hartford Arts Council. These grants are a partnership between the City of Hartford and the Arts Council, and are specifically designed to really quantify and measure the impact of arts, heritage, and cultural programming on the city’s “bottom line,” and to show how a vibrant arts community can generate jobs and play a vital role in redefining the urban environment.

Since 2009, the city has invested over $2 million in arts programming, events, and micro-enterprise businesses in the arts—everyone from graphic designers to local vendors providing much-needed services to artists living and working in Hartford.

The program has seen tremendous success, generating almost $4.5 million in economic activity and, most importantly, supporting dozens of full and part-time jobs. “Job creation” initiatives have certainly become the latest national craze, and this program has a three-year track record of creating and supporting jobs through the arts—a testament to the impact of the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

Westchester: Net Worth vs. Net Value

Posted by Janet Langsam On July - 10 - 2012

Janet Langsam

Here in Westchester (NY), when we talk about the arts and the economy, we have a great story to tell. Working with Americans for the Arts, we have done successive reports every five years since 1995, building our economic impact to $156 million, with some 4,800 jobs.

It is a daunting task reaching out to 150 affiliates, begging data from overworked colleagues, doing live interviews with arts-goers and culling the information; but we do it because it is the single most important tool in our advocacy arsenal.

As an internal document, the report becomes our barometer; we know those are the numbers we have to beat in the next report. As an external document, it gets the attention of thought leaders in our community and perks up the ears of our legislators. It has also built broad community support. In a quick (and not so dirty) community SWOT analysis last year, 95 percent responded that the arts are important to Westchester’s economy.

Yet, as most arts councils, we struggle with the “conversation”—that is, how we talk about the value of the arts in tandem with this “dollars and cents” version of our net worth.

To help us shape the “net value” conversation, we developed a “Why Do the Arts Matter?” series of ads, featuring prominent business leaders saying things like:

“Art has the power to bring people together—especially at a time when every effort is being made to divide people in the world” 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.