After practically no sleep, I was still excited about the last day. This was the day I was scheduled to present!
8:45 Engaging Audiences through Collaboration and Innovation
I had a great team to work with. Our moderator was Kory Kelly, Director of Marketing & Communications at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Also presenting with me were Sam Read, Deputy director of Theatre Puget Sound in Seattle, Washington and Greg Fiedler, President and CEO of the Greater Flint Arts Council in Flint, Michigan. We decided to tag team our presentations so one would lead into another.
I started off the morning of our Engage Audiences through Collaboration and Innovation with an overall look at the variety of collaborations you can achieve. Each type of collaboration had a case study story to give an example – the case study pointed out how it engages with your audience. This presentation was from the view point of one organization working with many other arts and community organizations. This was a milestone presentation for me too since I vowed to never do another “PowerPoint” presentation ever again. You can hold me to it!
My audience was a little sleepy during the beginning of my presentation, but I could see them waking up in the middle. 8:45 am? Much too early, right?
Sam Read took the ball and presented Arts Crush. This festival is full of creative ideas on how to get the different disciplines of the arts working together and working with the community. Innovative programming, venues, and audience development can result when a community gets together to co-create an arts festival. His presentation was exciting and the theme of collaboration and innovation was demonstrated perfectly. One of my favorite quotes – Move beyond the butt!
Greg Fiedler had a video presentation that spoke about the Parade of Festivals that his Arts Council is responsible for. The point of the presentation was to not only show how different and interesting festivals can work together to build audience, but also how the arts are changing the perception that surrounds Flint, Michigan. Unfortunately, almost everyone raised their hands (before the video) when asked if they heard something negative about Flint. Fortunately, everyone raised their hands when asked if the video gave them a more positive perception of Flint. The arts are making a difference in Flint, and through collaboration (and innovation), the difference is noticed!
10:45 Closing Plenary with Sam Horn
This was an interesting move since this talk tied together all the elements of the conference – marketing, development, audience development. We all seemed a bit brain dead and Sam Horn was speaking in codes, or rather acronyms. The messages of her talk were extremely valuable. Some of her main points are as follows. When relating to people – don’t just tell them what you do – tell them an example of what you are doing. Tell stories instead of relying completely on facts and figures. Get them to raise their eyebrows by asking “Did You Know” questions and supply them with some of the most interesting details about your organization. Lastly, relate your message to who you are speaking to. Instead of a typical elevator speech that states your mission, which is the same for everyone, first find out who they are and then give them something to relate to about your organization. Even though I was dog tired and ready for lunch, I got the messages and agree wholeheartedly.
My last little session of hanging with some great people. A group of us went to hotel sports bar and grill before we left in our cars, taxis and eventually our airplanes toward home. It was a fantastic ending to the conference – down time with folks that understand you.
I have to say that all in all, NAMPC was an amazing experience. The people I met, the presentations, the building of relationships – all factors were well worth it. I will also say that I am proud of myself for presenting in front of my peers (which can make you a Nervous Nelly). I am also proud of all of us that attended (well most of us) for leaving our egos at the door and being able to share our good ideas with each other.
I look forward to keeping in touch with the many people I was honored to become associated with during the conference. If asked again to be a part of this experience, of course, I would say yes!
Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Audience Development Specialists
“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”