This morning I am tracking tweets from two different conferences, the League of American Orchestras and the Americans for the Arts. I hope in the future to be invited to participate in some way.
I have been thinking about what I would say if I were asked to present. As most of you know, I am attempting to use my voice for arts advocacy and arts audience development. After a life in the arts, behind the arts, and living and breathing the arts, this is what I might say (off the top of my head):
- There have been some big changes in how our wold functions due to technology and input from upcoming generations. We are moving quickly toward a direction of transparency, sharing, and social consciousness.
- The arts, although creative in creation, have generally conducted business, over the past few centuries, in a very closed and banal manner. There have been many sinking ships in the news.
- There is fear about changing since technology is foreign to us, sharing in terms of partnering with our audiences has to be explored more and being transparent is unheard of.
- We have built islands of arts organizations with the desire for people to find their way through the murky waters to experience what we have to offer.
- People are busier than ever and they rather not have to plan in accordance to our agendas; they have their own agendas to worry about. They have their own pools to swim in. Too much work on their part to reach us drowns their enthusiasm.
- Building and using life boats to connect back to the community would be wise so we can survive. No man is an island so running an arts business in this manner does not make sense. Do we want our islands to sink or shall we learn how to build and learn how to swim?
- We also could build awareness that the arts are all around us, since we all go about our daily lives reacting with art in almost everything that we do. This awareness could serve as the bridge from our islands back to the community.
- It is time to risk, jump in and test the water by challenging ourselves to design and implement new programming, new ways to outreach to potential audiences, new collaborations in our communities, and a new focus for building relationships with our existing audiences through audience development programs.
- The world has different strokes now. This means that we need to learn how to swim again and to restructure our creative muscles and our capacity for hard work. Using our old methods of swimming is going against the current. We can learn to go with the current, go with the flow.
- Once we learn how to swim again, we can invite others to swim with us if we can open ourselves to being vulnerable, to trust and to allow others to share in the process again.
- Before we take this major leap, we can re-evaluate and learn about who we are. Knowing ourselves fully will help us to feel a little more secure and enable us to attract the right swimmers to accompany us and empower us on our journey.
- The arts are for all of us and everyone is an artist to some extent, in some fashion. The sooner we ride the waves of inclusion, the faster we will be on dry land again, living among our community, with the arts succeeding swimmingly.
Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Audience Development Specialists
“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
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