Last night I did an hour consultation meeting with the Colorado Wind Ensemble. I quickly explained about the 4 C’s of audience development: community, collaborations, connections, and caring. While speaking to them, a 5th C came up: Courage.
Audience development takes courage for many reasons. For one, you need the courage to be able to take the steps to build relationships with people. Building relationships takes a bit of moxy. You need the courage to ask someone to have a cup of coffee with you. It takes courage to mingle and to ask people questions to get to know them better.
Secondly, it takes courage to ask your connections to help you. Many people have trouble asking their friends and family for help and figure they don’t want to bother them. They spend their time attempting to network with people they barely know and ask them for help. That’s what networking is about, right? However, think about who cares about you and who wants you to succeed in life – your friends and family! Not asking your friends and family to volunteer, donate, connect you with a good connection is like cutting yourself off from your main life support. Get over your personal discomforts and get up the courage to ask your friends and family for help. You will find a better network of relationships naturally building for you to help build support for your art.
Lastly, it takes courage to try something new and different than what we have been doing all along. Audience development is a new way of building your audience; it is different than the typical marketing and networking that we have learned to work with over the past few decades. Build up the courage to take the risk and try audience development. Move some of your marketing budget to an audience development line and start creating audience relations programs. I can guarantee you that the time and efforts and the small amount of money you give to audience development will build your audiences, your volunteer base, your donor support. One of the number one reasons people go to art functions is through a suggestion from a friend or family member. I am seeing that these numbers are equaling or adding up to be more than marketing and publicity put together. Audience development, the personal, one-on-one approach to spreading the word works!
So, what are you so afraid of? Use the 5th C of audience development to take you to the next level. Take the risks to build a better audience using good old fashioned courage, and you will see a world of support unfold for you.
Until next time, may your audiences be happy and loyal ones, and if they are not, feel free to contact me!
Shoshana Fanizza is the founder of Audience Development Specialists. Her mission is to introduce artists and arts organizations to their existing and potential audiences and to help them to form more rewarding relationships.
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