Monthly Archives: June 2012

You want to build an audience? Follow up for arts audience development

I’m still on semi-vacation.  In my time off, I have again come to the conclusion that one of the biggest reasons artists and arts organizations are having trouble building their audience is due to poor to non-existent follow up.  We are dropping the ball.

  • We are not returning our customer phone calls in a timely fashion.
  • We are not following up after the show to connect again with our audiences.
  • We are not asking the right questions on our surveys to get to know our audiences.
  • When we do get data, we are not implementing programs from what we have learned about our audiences.
  • We are not thanking our audiences sufficiently.
  • We are not connecting with them enough to ask them if they would like to become supporters.
  • We are not communicating with them adequately to create two way conversations.
  • We are not being clear about our support needs, and we are not giving them ample options on how to support us so they are more comfortable to give.
  • We are not checking in with our audience members and supporters.
  • We are not making a big enough fuss over our volunteers, donors and sponsors.
  • We are not building relationships with them before, after and during our events.

Some of us are doing better than the majority.  I think the big reason for the differences are the follow up skills.  Good customer service, the ability to show you care for your audience members, and the genuine desire to get to know your audiences and have them become your partners can make a huge difference.

If you want to build an audience, and a happy and loyal one at that, start following up and see what happens!

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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How do you know if you need audience development?

This is going to be an easy one this morning.  How do you know if you need audience development?  If you still need to build your audiences and you still need more support in the form of volunteers, donors, sponsors, board members, you need audience development.  It’s that simple!

It is not a matter of figuring out if you need audience development.  More likely, it is a matter of figuring out why you are not doing this already. Is it because you are not certain that audience development works?

When all the right components necessary for audience development are in place- this stuff works!  I have mainly worked with small to mid-size organizations with limited resources.  When they shifted their resources and energy to audience development, we have seen increases in audiences and monetary support in the range of 30-50%.

In one season, I was working with a mid-size organization that had an average of 1100-1300 audience members per concert (concert hall is 2,052 seats so around 50-60% of house).  By the end of the season, the attendance was closer to 1600-1700 with the last concert selling out the auditorium.  This was within one season, over 5 concerts, mainly due to the audience development efforts implemented.

A smaller organization that hired me (small staff and budget) went from around 60 to 125 to 275 to 350 to 425 within 2 seasons!  They noted that their concert that was the toughest sell over their seasons, which usually yields the smallest audience, is now around 250 people.  Their comment  was, “If this is our new low, that actually isn’t that bad.”  Their new low was their high a couple seasons ago!

I see organizations going under, and maybe there are various reasons why. Despite the reasons, I know that most of the time, when organizations put their energy toward audience development, something special happens which drives the shift to increase.  The new philosophy and hard work carries them toward new audiences and additional support.

So do you need audience development?  Most likely.  When do you need audience development?  ASAP.  Does audience development work? You bet!

PS  I am so glad that there are now other advocates for audience development besides myself, but I also know they are not me with my style.  When you finally come to realize that you need audience development, I hope you consider contacting me.  With my team of ADS consultants, I know we can help you on the journey to achieving your goals.

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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What is the best path for you for audience development for the arts?

I will be searching for more guest bloggers.  In the meantime, my brain has been buzzing with new activity.  What a difference some time off makes!  I will be in “time off” mode for a little while longer.  My batteries need charging big time.

I am still constantly thinking about audience development for the arts.  The good news is that the topic is taking off in the arts world these days more than I have ever seen before.  There is a “how to save classical music” conversation with people finally coming to the conclusion that focusing on building audiences (and relationships with their audiences) is an answer.  Using social media for audience development is a mainstay topic these days.  Also, discussion about programming for audiences and how to get them more involved before, during and after is popping up more frequently.  I am happy to see these discussions!

I want to point out, once again, that you will want to take the discussion to the next level, which is action.  All the thoughts in the world are not going to create the change.  You still need to design your audience development plan, create your programs and then go for it!

I am here to help you do this, and I am delighted to share with you that ADS is evolving more toward this direction.  In the works is a new level of commitment on my part, and the part of my colleagues, for taking action to create the change we need in the arts.

I have come to realize during my breather that being ahead of the curve had its drawbacks, or so I thought.  I have been waiting for my phone to ring.  This means I was “unable” to take action.  I was dead wrong.  I was spending my energy attempting to get noticed and hired, but in reality, I could have been focusing on projects that will build audiences despite being “hired.”  I hope this makes sense since this was a big lesson I have learned over the past few months.  I needed to shift my thinking from the old to the new. Sound familiar?  The arts in general are stuck in this mode – using old methods over and over again instead of being brave to try new methods like audience development.

It takes energy to create energy, and further, it takes the right concentrated energy to create positive changes.  If your energy is unused or wasted on the wrong focus, you will end up burning yourself out and not accomplishing what you want in the first place.  No wonder many of us are burning out.  We are spinning our wheels and creating wasted energy!

Lastly, since I was burned out, I wasn’t enjoying myself as much.  This should have been a major alert for me.  If you find yourself not having fun in the process, you are in the wrong process, on the wrong path.  Many of us in the arts have lost our mojo due to missing the element of fun.

To tie up this random post, here is the executive summary:

  • Discuss and get the ideas out
  • Take the ideas to the next level and create your plan with programs to make it happen – ADS is here to help
  • Take action!!!
  • Focus your energy on what will work (at least try something new) rather than what is not working (so you don’t burn out)
  • Enjoy the ride –  and if you are not having fun, go back to step 1

Thank you again to all my email subscribers and blog followers.  I am very grateful to share this journey with you! Have a Wonderful Wednesday!

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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Shall we dance? Audience development and dance

I have been looking at my archived posts, and I discovered that I do not have a “dance” tag established.  There is a big reason for this.  I am not seeing as much news and information about audience development for dance.

How can this be?  I scan for articles daily, and I from time to time do a personal search for dance and audience development.  I know there are some organizations and dancers that are employing audience development techniques, but I am curious why very few of these programs are showing up in the search engines.

I know that in terms of arts coverage, dance has seen the worst of the cuts. It is rare to see a dance critic on staff at a newspaper.  I realize that dance also is one of the first programs to be cut in schools while the music and visual arts continue to hang by a thread.

When I see cuts happening around me, most of the time I see some people stepping up to fill in the gaps.  I know there are people in the dance world that are stepping up, but perhaps stepping out needs to be a bigger focus.  I want to see more dance blogs, more interaction with the media (albeit online if necessary), more YouTubes being shared.

Dance is on the verge of making a huge comeback.  With shows such as So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars, Bunheads, Breaking Pointe, America’s Best Dance Crew, and All the Right Moves, dance is dancing into prime time.  Not to mention all the dance movies that are being churned out in this decade, from the Step Up  series to Hairspray and the critically acclaimed, award winning, Black Swan to name a few.

Since dance is becoming mainstream again, it is time for all you dancers that have a flair for share to step up.  The time is now.  I have found dancers to be very engaging people, so get out there and engage your audiences! I hope to see your blog or YouTube soon. We will know when your efforts are going mainstream too, because, believe me, if there is more dance audience development out there, I will see it during my daily scans.

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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Audience development for orchestras…younger audiences

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You want young? Start listening! Audience development for arts conferences…

Due to funds, I am only able to go to one conference a year.  I hope this changes in the future.  I love being a part of conferences since the energy is contagious, and I am able to meet some fantastic people. If I were invited to speak at one of these conferences, I might have said…

Twitter has been so incredible for following conferences around the globe. Hashtags have become priceless in this respect.  I am glad I can be a part of the conference experiences, even if I am a fly on the Twitter wall.

The recorded keynotes have also been helpful.  Recently I was watching the final keynote for the League of American Orchestras conference, A Call to Action by Clive Gillinson. His actual speech begins about the 30 minute mark.  I loved what he had to say since it was forward thinking.  Become a part of the community and ask what you can do for them rather than what can be done for your organization, etc.  However, the delivery, the presentation and how he was dressed, was very formal and old school.  I tweeted that I wanted to see him in a Hawaiian shirt, or something equally bright to be in fashion with what he had to say.  I also have been thinking that in order to “get outside of the box,” perhaps we need to let our hair down more at these conferences instead of being so gosh darn formal.

Which brings me to the “You want young?” part of this post.  We all need/want younger audiences, right?  Many times, at these conferences, we hear from the older generations.  Very few conferences have younger speakers as a main event.  Are we listening to our younger generations?  Are we allowing them to get their viewpoint across to us?  If we want younger audiences, maybe we need to start listening to our younger participants.

This means that having a few keynotes presented by the younger generations would be most helpful.  I am all for learning from the experienced, but the younger generations have experiences to share as well.

In general, I do not feel we are listening to the younger generations as much as we could.  We attempt to figure out what they want, but are we really listening to what they want? Are we listening to their perspectives?

Perhaps we are afraid that what they want is something we would not like to offer.  Perhaps the older generation is afraid that they will no longer be valued if we allow younger generations time on the soap box.  These are fears we need to overcome if we truly want to be relevant to younger demographics.

GenY has personal experiences to share that are full of creativity and positive energy.  Why limit their share time to a breakout session?

GenX, being the oldest of the younger generations, has an interesting perspective and most are not afraid to share what they think.  They can be brash, but rather refreshing.  They can serve as a wake-up call if we allow them to speak to the general assembly.

The other younger generations rather participate than sit quietly with hands folded in their seats.  They will, however, listen to peers.

Conferences can be valuable for the sharing of new ideas, but in order for us to move forward, perhaps the conferences need to be more forward thinking in how they present and who is chosen to speak.  All generations have something special to offer.

I hope in the future to see more diversity in our conferences if this is what we are truly striving for. I am grateful to see some exceptions, but for the most part, older white guys are still ruling the roost.

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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Perspective for Arts Audience Development

I finished the book “The Noticer” by Andy Andrews. This is what I have learned:

  • Change happens in an instant. The decision to change and the building of motivation toward action is what can take time. Action is a now, present factor. Change is instantaneous.
  • You can start with small changes and these will add up. You do not need tons of money or loads of help to get started. Your own small actions and small funds can get you started. Taking the first steps matter more than you know. It is the small seeds you plant that will take root and grow big trees.
  • Your choices have led you to where and who you are now. Make different choices if you want to be someone or some place else.
  •  You will have a better life if people genuinely like you and want to be around you. What would they change about you if they were asked?
  • You being here, breathing, means you are alive with life left to live. You have purpose and your life touches and ripples other lives. How will you make a difference?
  • Other people may speak a different language than you, communicate differently and understand the world in other ways than you due to varying experiences. To truly connect with others, you may need to learn and understand their language, their perspective.
  • Your perspective dictates your outcomes. Be grateful and positive to have good in your life.
  • The little details do matter to others. Pay attention to the small matters when catering to others. Your choice to do so or not creates your reputation.
  • Your friends and family are here to support you and offer perspective. Don’t be afraid to ask them their thoughts.
  • Share your stories and yourself with others, but also allow others to do the same by listening.
  • Help others when you have the knowledge and ability to do so. Pay it forward!
  • Ethnicity only matters if we make it a barrier. People are still people.
  • It is our choice to grow and change. We can be discouraged by others and circumstances or we can be inspired by others and be grateful for our circumstances and choose to grow and change.
  • The best is yet to come if we believe. It is all a matter of perspective.

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, Audience Development