Monthly Archives: April 2012

Entitlement and arts audience development

Last Friday I blogged about some of the reasons why arts organizations succeed and some reasons why they are failing.  I hinted at the big elephant in the room, but for this Monday Moment, I will come out and declare it!

One of the biggest reasons arts organizations are failing is due to the feelings of entitlement.  We have gone through centuries of feeling that the arts are supposed to be supported, and in many cases have rested on this laurel.  We have forgotten how to do the good old fashioned work that results in successful arts businesses.

I am not meaning that we have become artistically lazy, although in some cases, we could cut back on offerings to ensure that each program is a true winner in terms of quality.  In regard to how we are running our businesses, we have become a little lazy.  Boards are not raising as much money.  Staff are falling back on measures that do not offer top quality customer service.  Individual artists have turned to complaining that they have to do the work.  Our marketing is lazy since we create the same tired marketing in the same tired ways that no longer get results.  The creativity for fundraising has almost gone out the window.  We mostly continue with the same old events, annual asks, etc.

We are artists.  Most of the arts administrators are artists as well.  Instead of feeling entitled, maybe it is time to finally use our artistic savvy and roll up our sleeves to become creative again.  It is time to connect again with our patrons on all levels.  It is time for the artists and arts administrators to act as a team again where we all work at audience development.  It is time for all of us to learn new ways of selling an event instead of relying on our tired ads, same old marketing copy and misplaced energy and money on other energy-less efforts.

Many organizations do have the amount of staff needed to turn everything around.  They also have the amount of money to reallocate to new efforts.  The fact that older, established, and well staffed organizations are going bankrupt means that they are, or had been, suffering from entitlement issues.

If you really want a well functioning arts business, you have to do the work.  For the smaller organizations and individual artists, this also means building a team of volunteers to help you do the work.  No one has to do all the work alone.  Everyone can build a team to work with.

We are entering the age where authenticity is going to be attractive, especially since there are more people on this planet that are clamoring for attention.  In many locations, we are saturated with arts offerings.  The competition is fierce for audience, for grants, for donations, for sponsorships…

So, if you want to be successful in this atmosphere, entitlement is not the way to go.  Good old fashioned hard work and audience development is!

PS  This is a general observation, and I am happy to report that there are some artists and organizations that are working hard, being creative, and seeing some fantastic results!

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

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

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Filed under Arts, Arts funding, arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development, Fundraising

Arts Audience Development: Why some arts organizations succeed and why some fail…

This week I saw another article where an arts organization blamed their audience for the fact that they are closing their doors. “Low audience numbers,” they stated. It made me ponder what the real reasons were for the closing. Why were people not attending? There must be a reason(s), and it probably has something to do with how the organization was running.

I decided to put the question to my brilliant Twitter friends. Why are some arts organizations succeeding and why are some failing? Here is the story with a little help from Storify!

  1. Share
    Falling audiences kill off company bit.ly/IqBQCT #auddev needed!
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 11:27:00
  2. Share
    Hmmm… not sure we should keep blaming the audience for failing arts companies. It’s not the real reason! #auddev needed.
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 11:28:01
  3. Share
    If an arts org has low audience numbers, what do you think is the reason behind this? Need feedback for blog.
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:12:12
  4. Share
    Do you have thoughts about what makes some arts companies succeed and some fail? I’m working on a blog. #auddev #arts #2amt #nampc
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:01:37
  5. Share
    I keep seeing articles on how arts orgs say they are closing due to low audience numbers, but they never go further to say their part in it.
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:11:18
  6. Share
    @AudienceDevSpec Knowing who your aud is and what you want to say to them. Understanding where you fit in the local&natl landscape. #success
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:03:14
  7. Share
    @melissaimpact I like it. Any thoughts on why some fail?
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:06:24
  8. Share
    @AudienceDevSpec @melissaimpact My guess is, ones who fail forget there’s any specific “them” to whom to say things.
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:08:08
  9. Share
    @dloehr @AudienceDevSpec and who forget the importance of how that “them” changes over the years
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:13:14
  10. Share
    @dloehr @AudienceDevSpec As well as the importance of maintaining an intersect between “them” and “us”
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:14:00
  11. Share
    @melissaimpact @dloehr I’m actually hoping to go a little deeper than this. Why are they not going the extra mile to get to know their auds
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:14:18
  12. Share
    @melissaimpact @dloehr Is it they feel they don’t have the time? Is their money/efforts tied up in marketing?
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:14:56
  13. Share
    @AudienceDevSpec Programming or really bad marketing
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:15:05
  14. Share
    @AudienceDevSpec @halcyontony @artemis_selena @dloehr I hesitate to say “bad”– I’d say “uncontextualized.”
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:18:11
  15. Share
    @AudienceDevSpec I mean “bad” in the sense that it’s not interesting or not being seen. But it’s more likely the programming
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:16:55
  16. Share
    @AudienceDevSpec Things they’re interested in attending. If you don’t produce work the audience is excited about seeing they won’t come
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:29:40
  17. Share
    @AudienceDevSpec For example, the idea of seeing Crimes of the Heart or Steel Magnolias one more time makes me throw up in my mouth a little
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:30:26
  18. Share
    @artemis_selena That’s how I feel about seeing Phantom of the Opera every day in the news. Ugh!
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:30:56
  19. Share
    @AudienceDevSpec If you do work that excites people, that relates to them, that intrests them, you’ll never lack for audience.
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:31:23
  20. Share
    @AudienceDevSpec think it usually boils down to either: lack of vision, lack of connection, or still building (if on a new path).
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:14:50
  21. Share
    @AudienceDevSpec @dloehr They don’t care; they don’t have a specific enough mission; or they think the answer hasn’t changed since 1971
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:17:11
  22. Share
    @halcyontony @AudienceDevSpec I would add to Tony’s comment focus on tactics rather than strategy(/vision)
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:17:42
  23. Share
    @melissaimpact @AudienceDevSpec All of the above, honestly.
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:18:09
  24. Share
    @TRGArts @AudienceDevSpec dunno far too many arts orgs are doing the same things the same ways and getting the same results.
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:18:31
  25. Share
    @halcyontony @TRGArts Maybe this is the problem. One-size does not fit all in terms of solutions.
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:20:23
  26. Share
    @TRGArts @AudienceDevSpec a lot depends on the org though. Poor implementation can be tough to distinguish from lack of vision at times.
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:21:11
  27. Share
    @halcyontony @audiencedevspec Exactly! It’s hard to turn away from tactics you’re used to even if they’re not working anymore
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:21:14
  28. Share
    @halcyontony @TRGArts This would be the management component I am thinking about. The implementation needs good management.
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:21:42
  29. Share
    @halcyontony @TRGArts So you mean mundane in terms of vision. Just to clarify this thought.
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:22:30
  30. Share
    @AudienceDevSpec @TRGArts generally.
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:23:04
  31. Share
    @TRGArts @halcyontony Also, everyone needs to do their “jobs”.
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:23:30
  32. Share
    @halcyontony @audiencedevspec Agree, and everyone in the org needs to be on board
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:22:43
  33. Share
    Agreed! RT @audiencedevspec: I think #arts orgs need to take more responsibility 4 their circumstances.It’s not the audiences’ fault.
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:26:22
  34. Share
    @TRGArts @AllyYusuf_ True. It’s what I see though. The audience didn’t come. The audience didn’t respond. The audience…
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:28:43
  35. Share
    @AudienceDevSpec @AllyYusuf_ Well, where’s the good in blaming the audience?
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:27:58
  36. Share
    @AudienceDevSpec I’d say it’s because the artist has not engaged the audience to the point of drop everything to see this show.
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:18:47
  37. Share
    @AudienceDevSpec Thanks. You can engage people, but it’s special artists that engage to the level of “drop everything.”
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:30:38
  38. Share
    @SoundSorceress So exploring the “how” to do this is the next step.
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:31:27
  39. Share
    @audiencedevspec LOL. Ultimately, #arts orgs should provide an excellent product compelling messaging community focus 2 attract an audience.
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 12:30:46
  40. Share
    @AudienceDevSpec Many multi-decade-old arts orgs here are still led by their founders. That contributes a great deal to inertia.
    Thu, Apr 26 2012 13:59:20
  41. Share
    @audiencedevspec Succeed vs. Fail: when arts orgs devalue their tickets w/ too many freebies, discounts, etc w/o collecting & using data
    Fri, Apr 27 2012 16:07:28

I would have to say in general that there needs to be more responsibility taken by the organization (artist) as to why they are not succeeding.  Simply blaming external factors is not going to allow us the ability to make positive changes.  This means that we need to be more honest with how we are running our businesses.  Typically, there are factors in how we are functioning that are contributing to low audience, low support monetarily or volunteer wise.  I would say that we need to take a good look at ourselves and our businesses if we want to discover the reasons as to why we succeed and why we fail.  The answers will be found, and we will be able to document what would be good to keep doing and what needs to be changed.  In the near future I will go into my list of “whys”, but until then…

What do think? 

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

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

Audience Development for the Arts & the future of crowdfunding

Today for my guest blog post, I came across a post with some interesting information about the future of crowdfunding. Enjoy!

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Crowdfunding
by Grace Williams
April 23, 2012

I read an article by Craig Newman on Crowdfunding this week. Before I read this article, I was not really familiar with the term “crowdfunding.” I assumed it was referring to fundraising efforts such as Kickstarter. However, Kickstarter doesn’t really bring in serious investors since your return is just the incentives given with specific dollar amounts. This speaks more to investment opportunities in which you get an actual financial return. Bills are apparently making their way through the House of Representatives and the Senate that will allow investors to buy small businesses’ stock online. The article speaks to the great opportunities that come from this, but also cautions readers that it could be used to defraud investors.

I see the great opportunities that could potentially come from the passage of this bill, not just for small businesses, but for the entertainment industry as well. The latest Broadway production of the musical Godspell was funded in entirety by small donations from individuals. This allowed the production to focus more on the artistic side of the production instead of worrying so much about what the investors would think. However, this process could have been streamlined with the passage of these bills making their way through the House of Representatives and the Senate. Instead of donating money, they would be investing. Instead of just getting their name listed in the playbill, individuals across the country could see a return on their investment. Record companies could also fund projects by enlisting the help of the general public. Upon further research, I saw that this bill has been passed. Hopefully the government will be able to regulate the investments to keep investors from being defrauded. It will be interesting to see how this progresses in the next year. [:O)]

Grace Williams is a senior at the University of Southern Mississippi pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Entertainment Industry Management. She hopes to someday be a part of this great wide world of theatrical management. She is passionate about live entertainment.

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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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Audience Development, fund raising, Fundraising, Online fund raising, Online fundraising

Audience development for the arts – going beyond mass engagement

I am delighted to see more debates happening in regard to “engaging” with audiences.  Engaging your audience seems to be the catch effort of the day for building audiences.  “You must engage your audience.”  What does this mean exactly?

I see efforts for getting the audiences participating more by clapping along to the music, voting for encores, and attending lectures about the performances.  These efforts definitely can add enjoyment to the experience, but for true audience development, it’s best to begin engaging with them as individuals.

As I have been mentioning, engaging your audience using a mass effort does not necessarily mean that your audience member is becoming more involved.  They may enjoy the event more, but are they moved enough to volunteer, donate, spread the word, or potentially become a committee or board member for your organization?  This is where mass engagement can fall flat on two levels.

1. These efforts do not take the individual audience member into account.  The audience is still seen as a big group, not as individual people.

2. These efforts can be seen as what the organization is doing for themselves – in our age of transparency, audience members will know that these efforts may not be truly for them.  They see that you are trying to engage with them, but on your terms, not theirs.

The next level of engagement allows the individual audience member to participate by engaging back during a group effort.  These efforts do get the audience member a little more involved, such as during talk-back sessions, individually interacting with an audience member during the performance, and asking their opinions on surveys.  However, even though an individual participates, these interactions may still be run from the organization’s view point and still be seen as a mass engagement effort for a group of people.

In order to go beyond mass engagement, you will need to start developing relationships with individual people and begin creating programs and efforts with your audiences so their view points are in the mix.  This process does take more time and effort, but if we want a healthier arts world, it’s time to come full circle and have the audience play their part again. You want your audiences to become more engaged with you too, right?  This can lead to them individually becoming more involved with supporting your organization.

I will end here so my Monday Moment does not become more than a moment, but if you have any questions, comments or feedback, please do post in the reply section. 

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

Leave a comment

Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development

Arts Audience Development and new ideas for new audiences!

TGIF! Today, I wanted to alert you of an idea from Audiences NI (North Ireland).  They have sent me the information on their latest audience development program, Test Drive the Arts NI. Straight from their website:

Test Drive the Arts NI is an audience development initiative, funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and managed by Audiences NI. Similar initiatives have run across the UK and further afield, including Sweden and Australia. The initiative takes the concept of taking a car for a test drive and applies it to the arts. Research shows that many people who try the arts for the first time will discover how much they enjoy the experience and go on to become attenders. The initiative uses unsold tickets and therefore availability is strictly limited. A range of arts organisations are involved in the initiative, including Belfast Film Festival, Belfast Waterfront, the Grand Opera House, Lyric, Moving on Music, Queen’s Film Theatre, Ulster Hall and Ulster Orchestra with many more to come.

The initiative was based in Belfast initially and was rolled out across Northern Ireland in April 2010. There are many regional organisations involved including the Alley Theatre in Strabane, the Market Place Theatre in Armagh, Millennium Forum in Derry / Londonderry and the Strule Arts Centre in Omagh.

Audiences NI is the audience development agency for Northern Ireland. If you want to know more about us please visit our website.

Reading further into this idea, the tickets are only available to people over 18 that have not yet purchased a ticket from the particular cultural organization within 3 years, and you can only sign up for test drive tickets one time.  This is to ensure that other people that are new to the performing arts have a chance to receive these tickets. Plus, if you don’t find an event that suits you currently, you can sign up for alerts for future events!

I have seen a few other ideas that are similar.  Such as:

  • Bring a friend programs
  • Cultural library passes
  • Comp ticket programs
  • Rush tickets
  • If you can think of any other programs, please reply in our comment box!

The fact Audiences NI is lending a hand to organize an initiative for interested cultural organizations in their area is a definite bonus.  The extra exposure will serve the participating cultural organizations well.   They also have included a tell-a-friend email system which will help increase interest for this program.

Audiences NI has done a fantastic job with all the details of this program.  It has been recently reported that Test Drive the Arts NI has reached the milestone of 10,000 successful applicants this year.  Now we know that this program really works, and I hope to see similar initiatives implemented soon!

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Arts, arts advocacy, arts marketing, Arts technology, Audience Development

CRM: Who are we kidding? Arts Audience Development

Today is Wednesday, and you know what this means – guest blog post day!  Today we have a post from Lisa Baxter, Founder and Director of The Experience Business. She recently wrote a post that caught my attention that I would like to share with you.  Enjoy!

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Customer Relationship Management: Pulling the wool over our own eyes

12 Apr 2012

I was chatting with the Marketing Manager of a regional producing theatre the other day. The subject of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) came up. When I asked what they were doing to develop relationships with their first-time bookers, this was the answer (I’ve captured the spirit of what was said here, not the actual words):

“When they book a ticket [an advance ticket] we contact them to say thank you and tell them about our gallery, shop, bar and restaurant facilities … and then after the show, we send them a questionnaire about their first impressions of the visit … later, we contact them about other relevant shows that are coming up.”

Now, this might sound like ‘building bridges’ from a marketer’s perspective. But, and with no disrespect intended to this rather wonderful Marketing Manager, what this CRM gem actually represents is a predatory attempt to:

a) coax ancillary spend from the customer,

b) extract information about them and,

c) second guess what they might want to see next when all that is known is they booked a particular show.

The first is up-selling thinly-veiled as friendly information giving … ‘sharing’. The second is research thinly-veiled as ‘caring’. The third is blind optimism!

Let’s not kid ourselves about how caring and sharing we are with our customers. We’re not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes except ourselves because our canny customers will see right through it, and that’s no way to start a relationship.

I think the root of the problem might be that arts marketers have been hardwired to ‘extract’ rather than ‘give’, to ‘sell’ rather than ‘connect’, and measure success in terms of short-term gains rather than long-term, genuine relationship building.

Does this resonate with you?

I’m going to write further about this in subsequent blogs, but here are some alternative suggestions to the insincere sharing and caring that passes for CRM in some arts organisations today:

GRATITUDE: Thank first-time bookers promptly. Tell them you’ll provide more information on how to get there nearer the time. Provide a contact in case their plans change or they need further information. That’s all.

HELPFULNESS & EMPATHY: Nearer the time of the show, when they are in planning mode, acknowledge the challenges of their first visit by providing useful ‘insider information’ on how to make their journey easier, timely, safer, cheaper.

INFORM: Where possible, provide interesting snippets of information on rehearsals, reviews etc to build expectation and excitement.

DELIGHT: Find ways of making their first ever visit really special. Exceed their expectations by, for example, offering a voucher for a free drink and/or programme. Install a Welcome Table FOH for first time bookers where they can meet a friendly face and be oriented around the building. Chat with them and make them feel at home. Share your passion. Show genuine interest: find out how their journey went, why they came etc.

CONNECT and VALUE: Invite them to take their first steps into ‘friendship’ by subscribing to a mailing list based on their preferences (not your assumptions). Seek permission to include them in customer research … because their views are important to you. Gift first-time bookers with a discount voucher for a subsequent ticket purchase … because you’d love them to come back.

Just some initial thoughts … I’m sure there are lots of other, better ideas and practices out there.

In my mind’s eye, I can see some of you throwing your hands up in horror at the additional work this will entail – for no measurable, immediate return …. but the returns will come. Given that customer retention beats customer acquisition hands down in the economic arena, it makes sense to invest in retention as assiduously as we seem to churn out sales messages to the faceless would-be attenders.

Now … how might you design a super welcome area that gives your first-timers a symbolic hug when they cross the threshold into your world? [:O)]

Lisa Baxter is the Founder and Director of The Experience Business. A trainer and author she is frequently invited to talk about her approach to Qualitative Research, Experience Design and Creative Thinking both in the UK and abroad.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), Lisa is known as an inspiring and creative thinker who likes to take her clients on a voyage of discovery. Her aim is to help arts and cultural organisations re-imagine their offer, think smarter, plan more robustly and deliver excellence. At the centre of everything she does is the beating heart of the audience. Lisa has worked with organisations large and small to connect them with their audiences in a way that generates both business and social value.

An elected Associate Member of the Market Research Society (MRS), Lisa follows their rigorous Code of Conduct to ensure the highest ethical and professional standards. She is also a member of the Association of Qualitative Research (AQR), the Arts Marketing Association (AMA), Audiences Europe and the Customer Experience Professionals Association.

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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

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

Leave a comment

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

Arts audience development and Twitter reminder

For my Monday Moment, I wanted to remind all of you that using Twitter is not all about “me, me, me.”  I have seen various artists and arts organizations posting a stream of marketing messages to like them on Facebook, or check out our YouTube or repeated tweets about their upcoming show.

Twitter is meant for socializing which means the majority of your stream should either be about “them” or about “us.”  This means that you want to have more two-way communications and also to tweet information that will be beneficial for them as well.  Having a stream that is all about “me” is not going to be as popular, and less people will likely want to follow.  They will get tired of being “sold to” all the time.

The occasional marketing message is okay, but use marketing tweets sparingly!

Use Twitter to build relationships with your audiences and have real conversations with them.  Simply retweeting that they retweeted one of your marketing message does not count.  If you do not have @replies or links to interesting information to deepen your relationships with them, you are missing the point of Twitter.  Twitter can be a valuable experience when you use it correctly.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development