Monthly Archives: February 2012

Audience development for the arts and how to find the right pillow

For this Monday moment, I wanted to share with you my hunt for a better pillow.  After months of having a crick in my neck due to having the wrong pillow, I am now on the hunt to find the pillow that is right for me.  I thought this was going to be quite the pillow fight, but I found out that Bed, Bath and Beyond has a fabulous return policy.  You can keep trying pillows and returning them until you have found the right one.  There are no restrictions!

Pillow number 1 failed after a 3 night trial.  It was too firm.  I went back for pillow number 2, which is very promising since it has a slightly cushier support.

Here’s the sleeper audience development advice in all of my pillow talk – wouldn’t it be neat if all cities had a trial system where people could find the arts discipline that they would enjoy, that would be the right fit for them?  I have heard of a few libraries that have a check out card available that functions as a one-time pass to an arts event, but perhaps another program similar to the pillow program at BB&B would work better.  This way, people could try out arts events until they find exactly what makes them happy.  Some restrictions may need to be applied, but the spirit of a good arts hunt could be a great way to develop a new audience.

Maybe you are not down with this idea, but do me a favor and at least sleep on it.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

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

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Showing up and committing to audience development

As I mentioned in my latest audience development tip of the day: Showing up in the present, I made a suggestion to start focusing on the present moment instead of the past and the future.  The only way we are going to create an audience that reflects people of today is to actually commit to audience development ideas and solutions for today.

In our arts industry, we keep attempting solutions of the past and we keep looking at what is needed for the future.  Are we actually living in the present?  No wonder most of us are having a tough time building an audience that reflects our modern society.  No wonder we have an audience that reflects a past era.  No wonder we are stuck  in the vicious cycle of not taking risks and making the changes necessary for today.

Here are the exact words from Jillian Michaels that she says in her week 1 Ripped in 30 workout (you listened to the tip of the day link, right?):

“Most people don’t show up in their own lives.  They go through life every single day without being focused and bringing their A-Game.  Transformation is not a future event – it is a present activity.  That is why you must bring everything you have to give in every moment.  And, it doesn’t have to be perfect.  It’s not about perfect – it’s about effort.  Bring that effort every single day.  That’s where transformation happens.  That’s how change occurs.”

Yes, lately I am on a fitness kick that I want to become a lifestyle change.  I was watching an infomercial for Insanity – a 60 day, crazy, intense 45-minute workouts, 6 days a week, program that promises buffness if you commit to the program.  People did get results when they did commit.  This program was a new solution on the market, but it will only work if you are able to commit to the program and to put in the focused effort every day of the program.

Success requires laser, present focus.  It requires commitment and intense effort.  If you seriously (and I mean seriously) want to increase your audiences, increase your sales and revenues, increase your donor and volunteer support, you will have to begin to commit and put in the effort and focus on present day ideas and solutions (not what you have done in the past or hope to do in the future).

I have presented in my last Friday blog post that we might be having an identity crisis in the arts.  We don’t know who we are anymore.  This translates to how we function as individual artists and arts organizations.  Not only do we need to discover who we are as artists/organizations now, who we are today or who we want to be today, but we need to figure out how to function in the present day as well.

Both of these challenges require us to show up in our own lives and create a focus on achieving our goals and aspirations in the present day.

You want a bigger and better audience, right?  So now you have a decision to make.  Are you going to show up in your own life and commit to audience development?

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

Join us for our next webinar:
March 16th – Noon ET

Working with Mobile Technology to Develop Your Audience
With the rapid adoption of web-enabled cell phones, smartphones and tablet computers, what options are available to arts professionals who want to engage their audiences via mobile devices? How can artists and organizations implement these options cost effectively without taking focus away from the art?

        

Shoshana Fanizza, Audience Development Specialists
Co-hosted with David Dombrosky, Chief Marketing Officer, InstantEncore
Co-produced with David Weuste, Rosebrook Classical

To Register: Click Here! 

**********************

Although we are not a non-profit, if you would like to support ADS to continue our work, you can donate here.

My eBook

New eBook!  The How of  Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

Participatory Classical Music Webinar – Recording

Leave a comment

Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development

Audience development for visual artists – How to send better email invitations

Today for Welcome Wednesday, my friend and artist Annette Coleman had something particular to say about visual artists and their use of emails for audience development.  How can you create better email invitations to increase your audiences?  Without further ado:

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The Artists’ Voice – Annette Coleman

 Visual Artists –  say it with a picture

You all know the popular quote ‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’ -Frederick R. Barnard.  This is the strength for visual artists if and only if you add an image. When it comes to sending out your email invitations,  don’t make the mistake of just using words in your email.

Like you, I receive many invitations to art shows from fellow artists that attach an invitation in a pdf or jpg format. We have to download the file to our computers and open it in a program to view your invitation or image. I know this takes only moments, but with all that we receive via email, why make me or your friends and followers go through this extra step?

For example, this is what I received recently from an artist as their invitation to an upcoming art event:

Often I don’t take the time to download these invitations and if the artist or arts group does not repeat the actual invitation copy in their email such as the title, date and time it will not make it to my calendar. How about you? Do you ignore these invitations too?

Instead, you can take the time to learn how to place an image in your email program so you can see it without downloading it. Most email programs give you this option.  Or, use an email marketing program that lets you do this.  Popular ones are Constant Contact, Evite, Punchbowl or MailChimp.

Many of these programs also enable you to add a links to your email.  You can use these links to go to your website and your social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Plus, you can take advantage of adding a forward button so that others can forward your invitation on to their friends.

Lastly, be sure to take the time to state the information about the event in the body of your email so your invitee has it handy.

With a little email design know how, using pictures, smart links, forward buttons, and clearly stated information, your email invitations will become a more welcome delivery to your audiences with increased success for you!  [:O)]

Annette Coleman is a multi-media artist that launched 88 88 ArtLook a service that supports artists, galleries and art tours by adding the Artist’s Voice to any exhibition. When the viewer hears the artist talk about their work a connection is made and art is sold. Follow her on BlogTalkRadio.com/Annette-Coleman

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Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

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Presidential audience development

Which presidents in the history of our country do you admire?  Why do you admire them? Most of us admire the presidents that were able to achieve great accomplishments for the people of our country.

Many of us are starting to realize that without a team attitude in congress, whatever president is elected will not get a lot done.  There are people that want the status quo and rather not make any changes, and there are people that want their way, and the “our way” never gets established. When there are too many people that want to bicker and cause opposition, this is going to make it extra difficult to incorporate needed changes.

During this Presidents Day, let us take a moment to ponder what is needed in order to accomplish audience development.  You need people that will support you and your ideas.  You also need people that will support you monetarily.  You need a strong backbone to deal with the naysayers.  You need a team of people to help carry out what needs to be done.

The presidents in our history that are the most admirable are the ones that are able to lead a team of people to move our country forward in a positive direction for the majority of the people.  Building your team is one of the most important aspects of audience development and having a team attitude is equally necessary.

In order to build a terrific team, you do need to have level headed and creative leaders with ideas that a team can believe in.  For the best audience development plans, you do need a plan president to keep everyone on the same page and to motivate them to want to do their part of the plan. Teams still need team leaders.

During this holiday, I challenge you to think about who among you would be a great audience development plan leader.  If you are an individual, what part of yourself can lead you to accomplish your goals.  Next, consider the people who can be a part of the team.  Are they people that are positive and proactive?

You can build a winning combination of people that will propel you forward to successful audience development.  All you and your team has to do is vote for audience development and elect to make your goals become a reality.

Happy Presidents Day!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

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Audience development questions: Why don’t I have an audience?

Yesterday (I admit) I jumped on my Twitter soapbox and was thinking out loud about why arts organizations and artists are struggling.  Here is the flow of tweets that emerged:

The world is getting faster and faster with more and more information, competition. How are you standing out from the crowd?

I strongly feel that 2011 was an identity crisis and 2012 will be the year awareness of who we really are will happen.

This means that hiding behind the same old same old will not work anymore. People will ignore you if you do.

You can differentiate yourself and ultimately be more of yourself than you ever had before.

This being yourself is key to attracting the right people to you and your art.

You have to know yourself before you can get to know your true audiences.

Trying to be like everyone else, that is not creative, and that is not being themselves if they are an artist/arts org.

Audiences are people that can feel vibes and emotions. If your art is tired, they will see and feel it.

I think every artist/arts org could benefit from an arts journal. What inspires you and why? Think about it!

You want to take note of what makes you deliciously antsy inside, what turns on ideas, what makes you squirm for need of action.

What gives you chills, makes you cry or burst w/happiness? What takes you on that emotional ride that delights you? Take note!

Maybe this is the core problem – Artists that are not inspired themselves to be who they are since they are out of touch.

People want to be inspired or at least memorably entertained. They want to spend $ on release, escape, awareness, happening events.

Discover yourself and share who you are!

Just maybe this is the core problem.  It all comes down to an identity crisis in the arts.  A while back I did a quick research on orchestra websites.  Out of the over 50 orchestras I sampled, there were maybe 8-10 that stood out in terms of their branding.  All the other orchestras, if you were to black out the who and the where, the pictures, messages, programs were all the same old same old. This is true in other disciplines too.  For a creative industry, the arts, we have become rather uncreative, stodgy, boring, bland, and predictable.

Does this really speak to who we really are?  Are you stodgy, boring, bland and predictable?  If the answer is “no” then I suggest you do something about it.  If the answer is “yes,” well, I would say good luck with that.  Do people want stodgy, boring, bland and predictable time and time again?  I think you know the answer to this question.

Why don’t you have an audience that is happy, loyal, and supportive?  It’s probably because you don’t know who you are.  Without knowing who you are and learning how to communicate who you are, you will never attract the right people to become your best audiences.

During my Twitter adventure, I discovered that I too need to go through this process again.  After 4 years of doing what I have been doing, I have discoved that this is not me at all.  I need to start asking myself the tough questions too.  What differentiates myself from other organizations that claim will help you with audience development?  How can I communicate better who I am to you?

Currently I can answer: I know how to help you find yourself and have the gift of coming up with sensational ideas that will support you in communicating to and connecting with your right audiences.  One size does not fit all since you are a unique being, a special entity.  I know this and can help you become more you than ever before.  Currently I understand: I need to completely change my website and branding to match my new understanding of myself.  And you know what? It is okay to change when it is a change that will reveal more of who you are.  I also know that I am a creative as well that has not been acting as creatively as I could be.  This will need to change too.

So by all means, use my own self discovery as an example.  If you are asking yourself, “why don’t I have an audience?”, please understand that maybe it would be best to first ask yourself “who am I?”

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

Join us for our next webinar:
March 16th – Noon ET

Working with Mobile Technology to Develop Your Audience
With the rapid adoption of web-enabled cell phones, smartphones and tablet computers, what options are available to arts professionals who want to engage their audiences via mobile devices? How can artists and organizations implement these options cost effectively without taking focus away from the art?

        

Shoshana Fanizza, Audience Development Specialists
Co-hosted with David Dombrosky
Co-produced with David Weuste, Rosebrook Classical

To Register: Click Here! 

**********************

Although we are not a non-profit, if you would like to support ADS to continue our work, you can donate here.

My eBook

New eBook!  The How of  Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

Participatory Classical Music Webinar – Recording

 

 

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Audience Development and the little appreciations

It’s time for the Monday Moment.  Last night, I received a call and let it go to my voicemail since I wasn’t sure who it was from.  The person left a voicemail, and it turned out the call was from a board member at a non-profit that we made a donation to.   I was very surprised to receive this appreciation call since we only donated $10.  If I had answered the phone, I’m sure I would have had a very pleasant conversation with her.  She would have been able to ask me questions to get to know me a little better and make note of what she had discovered for future reference.

Audience development is about getting to know people and also about showing that you appreciate your supporters.  Adding appreciation programs to your audience development plan, such as having your board members make quick thank you phone calls to your donors, is a great way to show your gratitude and to build relationships at the same time.

It’s time for you and your team to take these types of actions.  It does take some time and effort, but you will feel so much better knowing that you are being proactive toward building your relationships with people as well as building your support base for you, your art, and your organization.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

Although we are not a non-profit, if you would like to support ADS to continue our work, you can donate here.

My eBook

New eBook!  The How of  Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

Participatory Classical Music Webinar – Recording

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Audience Development

Welcome Wednesday for audience development: How to get young people through the door

Hello and welcome to our first Welcome Wednesday.  I am welcoming guest bloggers to bring other perspectives about audience development to you.  I came across this post via a twitter conversation.  Have you ever wondered how to reach out to a younger audience?  Of course you have, right?  Please welcome Melissa Hillman, Artistic Director of Impact Theatre in Berkeley, CA.   She has given me permission to repost her published entry for Theatre Bay Area’s Chatterbox.  Enjoy!

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Put Down That Remote: Getting Young People Through the Door

by / Melissa Hillman
Originally Published 2011-04-01 for Theatre Bay Area’s Chatterbox

“How do you get so many young people into your theatre? How can we do that?”

I’ve been asked these questions over and over and over. And over. The real answer is: I’m not sure. All I can tell you is what we’ve done, how we’ve done it and what I think you can do to better your chances of attracting the 18-35 audience. Will it work for you? I don’t know. Did it work for us? Yes, indeed.

Bear in mind that you need to do all of these things, all at the same time. This isn’t a pick-and-choose situation.

1. Do the kinds of plays young people want to see.
I am astounded by the fact that some larger theatres seem to believe young people should *always* be willing to translate, and blame self-centeredness, lack of interest in culture, lack of education and general boorishness when the 18-40 crowd don’t turn out in droves for a production of Dinner with Friends or Love Letters. Yet these very same theatres won’t slot a new play by an emerging playwright for fear of their subscribers’ reactions. They expect young people to translate, and heap condemnation upon them when they don’t, but they see older audience members’ potential lack of interest as their due. (P.S. Believe me when I tell you that 65 is the new 35. Many older Bay Area theatergoers are more adventurous than you think. TRUST. Moving on.)

While it’s always a good thing to have an active interest in the stories of people not in your age group (or ethnic group, or regional group, or religious group, etc), everyone longs to see their own stories, hopes, dreams, fears, realities and fantasies reflected in honest ways. Young people are no different. The key phrase here is “in honest ways.” A play by an older playwright with roles for young actors may or may not speak honestly to your desired potential younger audience members. Some older writers write very well for younger characters. Many do not. Large numbers of young people are not going to spring for tickets to a show that portrays them as mindless, boorish assholes. Find plays that speak honestly about the lives of young people in some way.

But how do I do that, Melissa?

I’m so glad you asked.

There are over 400 theatre companies in the nine-county Bay Area. We do more world premiere plays than almost any other region in the country—last I checked we ranked third. Yet it’s very common that staff from theatres who purport to want young audiences don’t come to world premiere productions at small theatre companies. How many emerging playwrights have you read this year? If the number is under 10, you’re slacking. Impact Theatre, my company, has produced a world premiere by, and/or entirely introduced to the Bay Area, these playwrights: Sheila Callaghan, Steve Yockey, Prince Gomolvilas, Enrique Urueta, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Liz Meriwether, Lauren Yee, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Joshua Conkel, Trevor Allen, Jon Tracy. This is a partial list—I stuck to people you’ve probably heard of. Most importantly, we’re a tiny dog on a very, very big block. There are a wagonload of companies doing precisely what we do. Find them. See their shows. Spy on the playwrights they use. Companies like mine are your R&D department.

Find directors who can make classic plays relevant and interesting—because they are. There are directors all over the country who draw loads of younger audience members into theatres to see Shakespeare, and a bunch of them are directing at these aforementioned smaller theatres.

2. Be realistic about your pricing.
It’s always annoying to hear people say, “But they’ll spend $60 on a concert ticket! Why won’t they spend $60 on theatre?” It’s like wondering why someone would drive all the way across country to be with her beloved but not drive just as long in the hope that she will meet a hot stranger in a bar. People drop bucks on concert tickets because they already know and love the artist and have every expectation of seeing a great show and having a great experience. Condemning those people for refusing to drop a similar amount of money on a show they may know little about that will, let’s be honest, likely bore them because it’s aimed entirely at someone else, is a bit much, yes? If you’re going to condemn the under-40 crowd for not dropping $60 on your play about middle-class, middle-aged white people and their midlife crises, you should also condemn Grandma because she’s not stocking her DVD collection with $60 of Robot Chicken.

So keep your ticket prices accessible. Some companies do an under-30 rate, which, quite frankly, I’m not wild about. That 30-40 crowd is young enough to need enticing into your theatre but old enough to be on the brink of having enough money to become donors and subscribers. You want them. They’re routinely ignored and that’s not going to pay off in the long run for your audience building. Make an under-40 rate if you must. Make some performances pay-what-you-will. Make your less attractive seating areas $20 for the first few weekends. Whatever you need to do, do it.

3. Market to young people.
If you’re not active on Facebook and Twitter, you need to be right now. Learn how to use these powerful tools properly. This isn’t a social media marketing post, so I’ll assume you can figure out where to get this info and move on. The blog on your website is going nowhere unless you’re pushing it with Facebook and Twitter, by the way.

Find ways to make your outreach to young people honest and, most importantly, unpretentious. One of the main things keeping young people out of the theatre is that they’re afraid they won’t fit in—they’ll feel awkward and out of place. As my friend’s dad was fond of saying, they’re afraid they’ll “stand out like a sheep turd in a bowl of cream.” You want to make them as comfortable as possible. A big step towards that is to use your marketing to make them feel welcome. Not pretend welcome, as in, “We want to sell you tickets,” but truly welcome, like “Come over and play with us! We just got a new toy!”

Theatre is not medicine. We don’t go because it’s good for us. We go because we think it’ll be awesome. Make sure you’re approaching your marketing properly. “It’ll be awesome” + “You’re totally welcome and will be comfortable” + “We’re not stuffy and pretentious” will go a long way. Make sure you’re delivering those goods onsite as well. Nothing drives someone away from your company forever as efficiently as an undelivered promise.

And that’s pretty much it. This is what I believe has worked for us over the past 15 years. I hope it’s successful for you as well. We all need to work together to build audiences for our future as an artistic community. There’s not a single one of us that exists on an island. We’re all in this together. [:O)]

Melissa Hillman is the Artistic Director of Impact Theatre in Berkeley, CA. She holds a PhD in Dramatic Art from UC Berkeley, where she was twice awarded the Mark Goodman Prize for Distinguished Theatrical Talent. In addition to Impact, Melissa has worked with Magic Theatre, A.C.T.’s MFA program, and Central Works Theater Ensemble. She’s taught at UC Berkeley, CSU East Bay, and the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, and currently teaches at the Berkeley Digital Film Institute.

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If you would like to be a guest blogger for our Welcome Wednesday series, please contact us!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

Although we are not a non-profit, if you would like to support ADS to continue our work, you can donate here.

My eBook

New eBook!  The How of  Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

Participatory Classical Music Webinar – Recording

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Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development