Economies and Diseconomies of Scale in the Arts

Posted by Ian David Moss On December - 4 - 2012

Ian David Moss

How does scale influence impact in the arts?

In 2007, back when I was a fresh-faced grad student, I actually addressed this question head on in the eighth post ever published on Createquity. I argued pretty strongly that scale in the arts was a myth, or at least not salient to the same extent as in other fields:

“It’s not that I don’t think large arts organizations do good work, or that they don’t deserve to be supported. What I’m going to argue instead is that there is a tendency among many institutional givers to direct their resources toward organizations that have well-developed support infrastructure, long histories, and vast budgets, and in a lot of ways it’s a tendency that doesn’t make much sense (or at the very least, could use some balance).

For one thing, those well-developed support infrastructures don’t come cheap. Consider the case of Carnegie Hall… [snip]

In contrast, small arts organizations are extraordinarily frugal with their resources, precisely because they have no resources of which to speak. It’s frankly amazing to me what largely unheralded art galleries, musical ensembles, theater companies, dance troupes, and performance art collectives are able accomplish with essentially nothing but passion on their side.

A $5,000 contribution that would barely get you into the sixth-highest donor category at Carnegie might radically transform the livelihood of an organization like this. Suddenly, they might be able to buy some time in the recording studio, or hire an accompanist for rehearsals, or redo that floor in the lobby, or even (gasp) PAY their artists! All of which previously had seemed inconceivable because of the poverty that these organizations grapple with.” Read the rest of this entry »

How Strong is Your Social Net? (Part 2)

Posted by Mary Trudel On October - 6 - 2011

Mary Trudel

Our 2011 How Strong is Your Social Net? Survey – that gathered responses from more than 1,600 arts organizations across the country – explores adoption and usage of digital and social media, measurement tactics, platforms, and return on investment (ROI).

The findings track the “how,” “to whom,” “what,” “why,” and “how often” of communications across multiple platforms and probes perceptions of effectiveness. We also examined internal policies and institutional protocols around issues of community building and audience feedback.

Trudel|MacPherson developed the survey to help arts groups connect with target audiences using a wide array of available digital communications options. The survey gathered data on how arts groups regularly communicate with various target publics; whether and how groups are connecting with patrons and fans – creating communities of interest and responding to their ideas and concerns — and how groups are measuring the ROI of their digital efforts.

Creative Connections with Audiences

We asked respondents to share their best/worst experiences with digital media.

Very few arts groups reported any horror stories and most praised the intimacy and immediacy of social media to help them repair relationships, deliver last minute information, and build awareness and demand. A few examples: 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 »