NAMPC10 Wrap Up: Times are (have been) a-changin’

Posted by Grace-Sonia Melanio On November - 16 - 2010

After attending my first NAMP conference, I realize the landscape of arts marketing has changed immeasurably over the last five years, primarily due to the economy and technological advances.  It’s been rough for many of us.  However, over the course of the conference, I’ve learned about the many ways arts organizations have cleverly responded, while becoming more nimble, thoughtful, and artistically richer as a result.  These strategies revolve around: new technology, collaboration, and more hard work.

New Technology

Although this fact is quite obvious to anyone in the arts marketing world, it’s still worth noting that new technology has changed the way we engage, learn, and reach out to our audiences.  Customer relationship management technology, social media and other web based forms of communication are examples of this.   As arts marketers, if we did not initially embrace these advances, we have since been nudged to adopt them for our own survival.


Collaborations are not uncommon among artists.  For arts organizations, they have become more important than ever.  One of the lessons I heard repeatedly over the course of the last few days is that companies must involve all departments within their organization to adeptly incorporate and benefit from new technologies.  During lean times, when everyone is doing more, it’s especially crucial to involve all parties.  In the end, working outside one’s comfort zone and boundaries together makes the organization stronger as a team.  Collaboration has always been a part of our culture, but new technology and leaner budgets encourage us to seek new joint ventures and ways to work with each other.

Hard Work

We all know that working in the arts has never been a cakewalk.  We are accustomed to struggle.  We know that this will never change.  It takes time to learn new technology, and can get frustrating just when you had the last thing figured out.  It’s not easy to work with new people.  Not to mention all the day-to-day fundraising it takes to keep our organizations afloat.  Who better to adapt to these rapid changes than us?

I believe that the art we promote and the value it brings to our communities is entirely worth it.

Bring it on!

How To Survive Long Plane Rides

Posted by hoong yee lee krakauer On November - 16 - 2010

Screaming kidWhenever my mother or some other evolved being tells me “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” I have to stop myself from shaking them by the shoulders and saying,

“OK fine! You sit next to a screaming child on a plane.  And you’re right, my journey is going to begin with one big fat single step – noise canceling headphones!”

Goodbye San Jose

For all of you who will be leaving the National Arts Marketing Project  Conference in San Joseand flying home and might find yourself in the unfortunate position of being seated next to a very loud little person, spend the two bucks for a headset and pump up the volume.

Here are some other travel tips: Read the rest of this entry »

Can Elected Officials Get Mojo from Maslow?

Posted by Scarlett Swerdlow On November - 16 - 2010

Like many before me and many to come, I came to Silicon Valley for the Chips — specifically, Chip Heath, co-author of Made to Stick and Switch, and one of my heroes Chip Conley, owner of Joie de Vivre hotels (who I actually admitted to having a brain crush on via Twitter). Both Chips were keynotes at the 2010 National Arts Marketing Project Conference held in San Jose this weekend.

The first time I listened to Chip Conley (who tweeters at the conference have immortalized with the hash tag hotchip) and as I read Peak, I thought a lot about how Arts Alliance Illinois, primarily an arts advocacy organization, could “refresh the identity” of Illinois arts practitioners and leaders through advocacy.

But this time, maybe because I’m still thinking about Election Day, I was thinking about a Hierarchy of Needs for elected officials. Specifically, what is transformation for elected officials. If you were an elected official, what would it mean to be all you can be?

Before you begin the snarky comments, let me take a step back – for all of you wondering what the Hierarchy of Needs is, how this is connected to Chip Conley, and what it means to refresh an identity.

You may have heard the term “Hierarchy of Needs” in a psychology class or on your Lincoln-Douglas debate team if you’re a dork like me. Abraham Maslow, a professor of psychology, invented the term when he decided to shift the gaze of psychologists from the “worst case scenarios” in humanity to those living the happiest and most satisfying lives. He discovered a hierarchy of needs – from basic survival to transformation – that defines human existence. Here’s my rendition:

My Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Photo credit: Flickr user Khalid Almasoud.

The bottom layer is all about physiological needs: food, drink, air, and sleep. Next up are your safety needs. Then there are needs related to love and belonging, followed by esteem needs. On top of the pyramid is self-actualizing, being all you can be. Read the rest of this entry »

We Have an Obligation

Posted by Laura Kakolewski On November - 15 - 2010

On Sunday afternoon, Managing Director of Berkeley Repertory Theatre Susan Medak joined the National Arts Marketing Project  Conference to share with us the responsibilities of non-profit arts organizations. For those of us in San Jose, Susan’s words will undoubtedly have a lasting impact. Here are some of the things that are sure to stick with us as we return home.

We have an obligation, under the tax code and under each of our own moral codes, to fulfill our missions, our long term goals, our service goals and our artistic goals.

We have an obligation to seek out income and audiences wherever we can find them.

We also have an obligation to be as adaptive and flexible as we can possibly be in a world in which things are constantly changing and in which the opportunities of tomorrow can not even be imagined today.

We have to step outside our comfort zones…. to resist the temptation NOT to take risks.

We have to be bold, be willing to try new things and new relationships.

We have to value discomfort rather than stability.

We have embrace ambiguity and flexibility.

Go forth and be strong.

The Brave New World of Customer Relationship Management Technology

Posted by Grace-Sonia Melanio On November - 14 - 2010

What’s CRM?  And why are we talking about this at an arts marketing conference?

These questions inspired me to attend today’s panel discussion: “The Brave New World of Customer Relationship Management Technology” to find out what CRM was all about, and hear how arts organizations are using it.

Illuminating the topic of customer relationship management in relation to the arts was Steven Roth, President of The Pricing Institute; Ruth Davidson, Director of External Affairs for ArtsEmerson: The World On Stage; and moderator Eugene Carr, Founder and President of Patron Technology who gave Brian Sayre, Director of Ticket Services for PlayhouseSquare’s presentation (Brian was not able to make it to the conference). Read the rest of this entry »

Twitter, NAMPC hearts you.

Posted by Megan Pagado On November - 14 - 2010

Let me begin this post by saying: If you’re an arts marketer but aren’t on Twitter, get an account before next year’s conference in Louisville. I promise you that you will have a richer conference experience because of it. Seriously.

Why? Twitter brings people together. It’s such a powerful, real-time communication tool that naturally facilitates dialogue. One of my favorite experiences at this conference is actually meeting people in person that I follow on Twitter. In a way, I actually feel more of an affinity towards them because of the fact that I’ve read their tweets! We’re not just tweeting back and forth and never engaging in conversation in real life; if anything, Twitter is an online tool that actually facilitates face-to-face communication at events like conferences.

Twitter’s also a great way to experience other parts of the conference, like other sessions or roundtables that you’re not able to attend. It’s pretty easy to take a general snapshot of how attendees are feeling just by monitoring what’s going on with the event hashtag (which is #NAMPC10 for this conference). If there’s a strong reaction, positive or negative, to something that’s said in a session, you will know about it. You’ll know what funny quotes are said, valuable insights are shared and random observations are made. Thanks to Twitter, I know I’m not the only one who was confused by the cricket chirp ringtone in one of the sessions! Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to the Campfire of the Fearless

Posted by hoong yee lee krakauer On November - 14 - 2010

Homecoming Cowboy Boots

photo by Texas to Mexico

I have always wanted to be a cowgirl.  Never mind that I was a very tall Chinese American kid in a Jewish Italian neighborhood in Queens.  I still longed to be a wild and free cowgirl with great looking boots of course.    OK, there were not a whole lot of role models out there for me so I had to reinvent myself and my reality to fit my dream.
I still do.

Why is this important?
A lot of what I am hearing at this conference has to do with exactly that.  Reimagining, reinventing or experiences that we want to share with our audiences on all levels – marketing, the creative process, technology.  There is one idea that has struck me as something extremely unexpected and surprisingly effective.

Try this, design for failure.
Accept that whatever you do successfully today will be a failure tomorrow.  So plan to fail at strategic intervals where you can learn quicker, reinvent yourself and get a newer product out in the marketplace fast.  Consistently.  That is how you build presence and consumer confidence.  It is counterintuitive on all fronts. Read the rest of this entry »

“Failing” with style

Posted by Megan Pagado On November - 14 - 2010

I entered my undergrad as a double major in Broadcast Journalism and Public Relations, if only because I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do. During my sophomore year, I was called to film a number of intro segments for a small niche cable channel’s series. Excited, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I headed to the studio, sat down in front of the camera and and got ready to film my first intro.

All I have to do is read the teleprompter. That’s it. Shouldn’t be too difficult, right? Okay, here we go…ugh, messed up. Can we do this again?

My voice was raspy, I was fumbling my words, I was nervous and in all honesty, I just didn’t enjoy it. It didn’t energize me the way I thought it would. In the end, they had me film one (ONE!) closing segment for the series where I read their website and phone number. I had, for all intents and purposes, failed, at least at reaching the goals both I and others had created for myself.

Succeeding is awesome. Knowing that you met your goals and that other people are happy with your product is amazing. But what happens when you fail? What do you do with those mistakes? Read the rest of this entry »

An Intimate Breakfast with 600

Posted by hoong yee lee krakauer On November - 13 - 2010

Chip Heath

There are 600 people here at the conference.  “We only catered for 600.” Bruce Davis grinned as people began migrating from the exhibitors into the cavernous ballroom for the morning plenary and to hear Chip Heath. Read the rest of this entry »

Do You Know the Way?

Posted by admin On November - 12 - 2010

BY: Terry S. Davis, UNM Center for the Arts

What do you do on a Monday night in Montgomery, Alabama?

If you had been like a lot of locals this week, you would have gone downtown to see the touring production of Fiddler on the Roof. On a Monday night. In Montgomery, Alabama.

I got to the Montgomery Performing Arts Center, pictured above, about 20 minutes before curtain surprised to see a crowd of people in the lobby. So many people were there that I could not make my way to the Will Call window to pick up my ticket.

They had not opened the house yet — some minor technical difficulties with the show that had arrived that morning and would depart after the curtain came down — which meant that all of us were packed into the lobby, which was quite large. A lot of people had come out on a Monday night in Montgomery, Alabama, to see a show.

What brings us out of our homes to the theater?

If I knew that answer, I’d be a featured speaker at the National Arts Marketing Project in San Jose. (It’s been a week of travels.) Several dozen arts marketers are going to gather in a room today to start discussing that very question. As long as I’ve been in this business, I confess I don’t always know the answer. Nor do the others who I will share a room with today, experts though many of them are.

Certainly we understand that people come out for the shared stories of theater, to hear, for example, the tale of a poor Jew in Russia struggling with maintaining balance and traditions in an ever-changing world. But why on a Monday night? Or, more to the point, why not?

In spite of the packed nature of their lobby, the Montgomery Performing Arts Center (MPAC) had not sold out the performance. The question for those of us in San Jose today will be what might we have done, had we been marketers for MPAC, to fill those seats that went empty that night.

Or the seats that went empty on Sunday night in Kansas City’s Music Hall for the performance of Cats I saw. Or the vacant seats in Bass Hall in Fort Worth for Spring Awakening on Tuesday. Or the unsold seats in Popejoy Hall we will have for many of our shows yet this season. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s a Wrap: The Arts Marketing Blog Salon is Now Closed

Posted by Alison French On October - 13 - 2010

On behalf of Americans for the Arts, I would like to thank all of our readers for stopping by our first ever arts marketing blog salon.  With almost 6,000 views, 73 comments, 15 bloggers, hundreds of tweets and retweets, and hundreds more of Facebook likes, the salon was a perfect way to jump start the National Arts Marketing Project Conference: New. Tech. New Tools. New Times.

I also want to extend a huge thank you to our bloggers:

All their contributions were thoughtful, smart, relatable, and well presented.  They shared their ideas with ease and honesty, and I can’t wait to hear what they all have to say when they present at the NAMP Conference in San Jose, November 12-15. Read the rest of this entry »

How Can Wrong Be So Right?

Posted by Susannah Greenwood On October - 13 - 2010

Susannah Greenwood

Oh, Chad Bauman you might be my new hero. Your insightful article on A Collection of Worst Practices was in a word, awesome. In another word, brave. Just one more word… awesome. Oh, wait, I already said that. Dammit. But, seriously, we’re brought up all our lives to believe mistakes are bad. You mess up that one term paper and it’s 40% of your grade and your GPA is affected for life, you’ll never get into grad school, you’ll never attract a spouse, you’ll end up miserable living in a ditch, a worthless piece of detritus and probably a total sot (not to be confused with Scale of Trustiness). What, your parents never used that argument? Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but so many times the consequences of mistakes are seemingly so monumental that you don’t take any risk at all. You never grow. And let’s be honest, sometimes those BEST practices don’t have the same results for you in your organization.

I’m here to support loud and clear MISTAKES. Boy, do I love sharing the mistakes. Sure they can be a bit of a sucker punch to the pride, but mistakes and sharing them are at the core of collaboration, education, and the continued drive for improvement and ultimate success. Hopefully your mistakes aren’t BP sized, no one wants that, but it’s easier to rise from the ashes if you just approach things with the attitude of practice makes perfect…or maybe not perfect, but very respectable progress and desired outcomes. When people say we are building on our “experience” what they really mean is, “we messed up a lot, but we won’t do that again. Not the same way at least.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Scale of Trust

Posted by Ron Evans On October - 12 - 2010

Ron Evans

I’m really enjoying the blog salon discussion by so many smart folks here on ARTSBlog. Technology in the Arts’ David Dombrosky and I both decided to pick up the banner of discussing citizen reviewers and trusting online commentary. In his recent post, he talks about the need to educate citizen reviewers so they know how to write an intelligent review. And in my recent post, I talk about training people to trust what people are reviewing right now.

I thought this was a cool way to attack the problem, and people seemed to dig the perspectives via the comments they left. So I emailed David and asked is he wanted to join my on Skype and talk about these two ways of attacking the problem on a deeper level. You can listen in on the recorded convo below:

Ian David Moss (fellow ARTSBlog writer) also chimed in with some thoughts on how he and his friend Daniel Reid had considered some of these issues when it comes to some of the big “vote for your arts group to get a grant” challenges that are happening all over the place. Based on these conversations, I decided to take a crack at a simple rating system, let’s call the “scale of trustiness” (or SOT — let’s bring the great word SOT back from its original meaning!) that you can store in your head when you’re reading an online review for an arts event. You won’t need to remember any number of points or anything — it’s enough that you just consider a particular review on the SOT scale, and if you’re weighing two shows to go to, perhaps each review’s SOT score can help you decide what to attend. Read the rest of this entry »

A Picture IS 1,000 Words: Design Matters

Posted by K.E. Semmel On October - 12 - 2010

Kyle Semmel

Ben Burdick’s take on design in arts organizations is apt. As someone who has worked in marketing at such an organization—and as someone who, somewhat grudgingly, has also done some (rather embarrassing) design work out of necessity—I couldn’t agree more. I can’t improve on his suggested steps, especially the part about getting beyond emotional responses, but I can write about just how vital strong design is for an arts organization (or come to think, any organization).

Objectives are important, and good design is essential to fulfilling them. Whether you want it to or not, your graphic design is part of your message. Every time you put marketing materials out into the world, you reflect on who your organization is and what it does. A well thought out design—one that speaks to what you do—becomes the shorthand for how people remember you.

I write the above paragraph while thinking specifically about our own case. Last year we were lucky enough to be selected for a special branding initiative with the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington, one of DC’s pre-eminent arts organizations, in its Business Volunteers for the Arts program. That program helps smaller organizations like ours reach objectives in areas like financial planning, marketing, and strategic planning, among others, by connecting them with professional volunteers. Read the rest of this entry »

What should we adopt? How can we adapt?

Posted by Amelia Northrup-Simpson On October - 12 - 2010

Amelia Northrup

Reading over the blog entries this week, particularly David Dombrosky’s entry on the rise of the citizen critic and Ron Evans’ post on online reviews, I was reminded of an experience I had a few years ago when our local paper cut its classical music and dance critic.  I had a meeting with many of the marketing directors in the city, who were understandably upset about the firing and convinced that their success was inextricably linked with newspaper coverage.

Many of these people had been in marketing for 30 years. When they first started out in the business, the primary marketing channels were TV, radio, and newspaper (and maybe billboard, telemarketing, or fax.) When a new medium was introduced, it might take a while to master, but that was fine.  The learning curve was viewed as an investment because you knew that medium would still be around in five years.

Compare that to now.  We have new, “must-have” technology platforms coming out nearly every 6 months to a year.  Today, we are being pushed toward mobile apps for phones and iPads, geolocation social media like Foursquare, and more.  We are not sure if these technologies will still be popular in three months, let alone five yea Read the rest of this entry »