Monthly Archives: November 2010

Audience development and arts funding

While scanning articles about the arts and audience development, I had a rude awakening:

Arts groups ‘must prove they’re worth funding’

But he said that individual arts organisations needed to demonstrate they were worth the funding they receive from the public purse.

“The arts are not going to put bread in people’s mouths but they can make a difference,” he said.

Excuse me, but the arts do put bread in people’s mouths, and the arts also ensure a creative population, boost local economies (double to input in most reports), help make education more accessible to our children,  add to our health and well being, provide an outlet for human expression, and make life worth living.  The reports are all there to be read and digested.  Why are people still saying the arts have to prove themselves?

Geez!  What do the arts have to do?  Go on strike to prove their worth?  Can you even imagine a world without the arts?  I dare you.  No seriously, I want you to think about going about your average day and make a mental note about how much the arts contribute to your daily life.  Here are a few examples:
  • Television and movie entertainment – there wouldn’t be anything to entertain us.  No music, no actors, no dancers, no filmmakers…
  • Marketing – imagine marketing without the arts.  No creative ads, no music, no actors, no dancers, no artists, no copywriters, no photographers
  • Events – most events add the arts to, well,  make it an event – no musicians, no actors, no storytellers, no clowns, no magicians, no photographers to capture and document…
  • School – the arts contribute to higher retention rates and make learning more fun and accessible, plus the arts help generate the creative thinkers of tomorrow – no artists, no creative thinkers, less kids staying in school, less creative teachers,  no textbooks with photos, learning becomes more of a chore…
  • Activities for kids and adults – no art classes, no photography classes, no dance, no theater, no creative arts camps, no books (since no authors), no lectures (except non-creative ones), no music concerts, no museums, no galleries…what will we do with all of our time?
  • Products – the products in our lives will becoming boring – no creative production or design, no artists, no music…
  • Inventions – there would be no new inventions without creative thinkers, a quality that arts education supplies

I could go on and on.  Think about the design for a  blog.  Think about any type of design in our lives.  Think about the song on the radio. Think about the inventions in our lives.  Think about creative scientific discoveries. Look around you.  The arts are all around us, supporting us in our daily lives, adding quality to our daily lives, and making our lives more rich and vibrant, more worth living.

And people are saying that the arts have to prove that they are worth funding?  Ridiculous! Ludicrous!  The next time a politician has a rally or event, try having one without music and creative speech writers!

I know that one of the main challenges for audience development is proving that the arts are worth funding and attending.  Politicians and other government officials that keep spewing this nonsense against the arts are no big help.  If we do not fund the arts, our lives will become extremely dismal.  Arts organizations are a part of our community and cutting off this part of the community is going to be detrimental to the rest of the community.  Period.

By the way, I have a job that I love because of the arts, and the arts employs a fair percentage of people.  Most industries rely on the arts to make their products sell.  Firsthand proof that the arts do put bread in our mouths!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
http://www.buildmyaudience.com
Facebook/twitter /E-mazing Newsletter /Blog

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

Workshops are available!

Does your arts organization or artists group need some new energy?  Our workshops can generate enthusiasm for audience development.

Contact us for more information!

Hourly Phone Sessions – Do you have a question about audience development or need feedback or advice on a project or challenge?  ADS can help!

Donate to the Audience Development Specialists Grant Fund!

YouTube Gallery – Do you have an amazing way you use YouTube to promote your art?  Let ADS know, and you might see your YouTube highlighted on our new gallery!

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Filed under arts advocacy, Audience Development

Cost effective audience development!

It has been brought to my attention by Jim McCarthy at Goldstar (@goldstarjim – smart cookie – you should follow him) that I have yet to blog mainly about why audience development is cost effective.  Before I jump in with a few suggestions,  I wanted to share with you some math that proves how cost effective audience development is compared to some other methods.  Do keep in mind that audience development is all about obtaining the people power to help support your organization.  People power is what makes audience development extremely cost effective since mostly your people power is comprised of  friends and family, colleagues, volunteers, and loyal patrons.  Audience development done right means that your people are continually helping you to grow your support with more people – it is an exponential growth solution.I know of a chamber orchestra that asked their patrons to fill out a survey, and 68 people replied (23% of attendees).  The survey asked how they heard about the concert.  27 people responded (40%) that they heard from a family member or friend.  14 responded (21%) that they heard about it from an advertisement in the local paper.  The ad in the paper cost them $275.

It cost about $19.65 per person that attended via the advertisement in the newspaper.  The cost of the ticket was $20.  Not much of a take away here.  The cost for friends, family, volunteers and  patrons spreading the word?  It did not cost them a cent!

They also did radio advertisements for this concert at three local stations.  3 people (4% of respondents) were in attendance due to these ads.  The ads cost them $500 or around $166 per person. Ouch!

Advertisements in newspapers or through radio spots do work, but they do not result in as good of a ROI as they once did.  The world has changed.  I could give more examples from this survey, but I think you get the point.

Now granted, this was only 23% of attendees that responded, and survey results can be a little difficult to sort out at times.  Over the years though, many other surveys have indicated similar results.  One of the biggest reasons for attending an event was that they heard about it from a friend or family member.   Now imagine what would happen if you spent a little bit of money, time and energy to make audience development work for you, to increase the amount of people power that is spreading the word.

Here are three cost effective suggestions to take advantage of audience development:

  • The cost of a cup of coffee, $1 – $5 these days.  You would not believe how productive one little coffee conversation can be.  There is something about sharing a cup of coffee that opens up a conversation with many possibilities.  You can invite someone to help you during this conversation or find out some other useful way to collaborate.  You can give the juicy details about your next event, and if expressed with lots of enthusiasm, most of the time the person offers to help in some way.  Finding a very supportive person to help you and your organization is well worth this little expense!  In one case, meeting someone at a coffee house turned out to be free support.  My client, now very audience development oriented, struck up a conversation with someone at a coffee shop. She was so amazed by his event that she became a very active volunteer on the spot!  This didn’t even cost him the cup of coffee since she already purchased her own.  She turned out to be the connection for several companies that donated in-kind supplies and food for the event, a value of close to $300.  Plus, 6 people attended the event due to her spreading the word ($275 worth of tickets).  Not bad for free and friendly support!
  • Fliers – I can’t live without them now.  You can print out around 300  8 1/2 x 5 1/2 fliers for about $20.  Yes, I was able to swing a really great deal.  You then can personally invite 300 people using these fliers as handout information for them to take home, put on their fridge, and use later to purchase their tickets through your website.  Let’s say 100 people attend via this effort (1/3 of the people personally invited – sounds about right).  You spent only $.20 for each of these patrons to get them to attend!
  • Social media done right – the cost is usually free!  Imagine what you can do if you had at least 10 people helping you to spread the word through social media outlets and asking others to help do the same.  Each of these 10 people invite 100 people.  That’s 1,000 people invited to the event personally by your people.  These helpers also make sure to follow up on their conversations regarding the event.  If only 10% show up due to this effort, this is still 100 people that did not cost you money to get in the door!

It is people that truly make the world go round.  People make things happen.  I would bank on better results using people power any day. I encourage you to keep building relationships and asking your people for support.  Audience development is very cost effective if you use methods where friends and family, colleagues and loyal patrons can give you a hand.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
http://www.buildmyaudience.com
Facebook/twitter /E-mazing Newsletter /Blog

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

Workshops are available!

Does your arts organization or artists group need some new energy?  Our workshops can generate enthusiasm for audience development.

Contact us for more information!

Hourly Phone Sessions – Do you have a question about audience development or need feedback or advice on a project or challenge?  ADS can help!

Donate to the Audience Development Specialists Grant Fund!

YouTube Gallery – Do you have an amazing way you use YouTube to promote your art?  Let ADS know, and you might see your YouTube highlighted on our new gallery!

Leave a comment

Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development, volunteering

Audience development needed for audience development and classical music

This past Saturday, I was a part of CU’s (University of Colorado in Boulder) Entrepreneurship Center for Music’s 2010 Fall Intensive: Engaging Your  Audience workshop series.   These workshops were for musicians in their school of music programs as well as for the community at large.  The director announced that with a student body just shy of 600 students, he was happy to report that a little under 3% is in attendance.  This translated to about 15-20 students/community members.  I definitely am saying “hats off” to these dedicated people that gave up their Saturday to attend 4 workshops about audience development.  However, wait a minute, only 15-20 attendees?

Yes, I realize in marketing speak, this is a good percentage, but in audience development speak for the arts, for classical music, this is a very bad percentage.  Only 15-20 people care enough about building audiences and care about the future of classical music? Aren’t we in a big debate right now about how to increase audiences for classical music since it is dire that we establish bigger and better audiences for our futures?

I know I may be one of the advocates for audience development that continually shouts from the rooftops that audience development is important to the arts, but I am now completely aware that we need a larger group of people to jump on the rooftops with me.  Audiences will not build themselves (with the exception of extremely high quality, new offerings that get buzz).  Since audiences will not build themselves, don’t you think we need to learn more about audience development and how to engage your audiences- how to get them more involved?  Well then, we need to start taking the opportunities to learn when they come.

Maybe it was the all day Saturday format that drove away potential attendees.  Maybe the word was out there, just not out there enough.  The cost was right, only $25/$35 for the entire days worth of workshops – cheap and cost effective education!  I think we need to excuse the excuses.  Right now, in my mind, there should be no excuse for not attending workshops of this nature if we want to turn around and build audiences for classical music.

We can blame the economy, the elite-isms, the cost, and the marketing all we want for poor audience attendance numbers, but I am putting it out there right now, I am pointing the finger at  the musicians and organizations themselves for not learning how to build audiences and how to engage with their audiences (exceptions to the people that are taking a proactive approach). Currently, consultants, workshops and mini-articles are what we have to learn from; there are no books on the market that dive deeply into the how (I’m working on it and cross your fingers for December!).

I am putting a challenge out there to all artists.  If you see a workshop, lecture, etc about audience development or about how to engage your audience, for the sake of building your audience, go!  If you want attendance and loyal arts patrons, you need to attend!  Take back the power to make a difference in your world instead of hoping and praying things will change. Continue to discuss solutions and educate yourself on the subject.  Until we all take responsibility for building relationships with our audience, classical music (the arts in general)  will continue to be too “elite” for the masses.

In the near future, I will blog about the actual workshops themselves.  I dedicated my time to go to each one and learn from my colleagues.  There were incredible offerings during the day to take away and implement into our own plans for audience building and engaging.  Stay tuned!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
http://www.buildmyaudience.com
Facebook/twitter /E-mazing Newsletter /Blog

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

Workshops are available!

Does your arts organization or artists group need some new energy?  Our workshops can generate enthusiasm for audience development.

Contact us for more information!

Hourly Phone Sessions – Do you have a question about audience development or need feedback or advice on a project or challenge?  ADS can help!

Donate to the Audience Development Specialists Grant Fund!

YouTube Gallery – Do you have an amazing way you use YouTube to promote your art?  Let ADS know, and you might see your YouTube highlighted on our new gallery!

Leave a comment

Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development