Monthly Archives: August 2012

Building trust for arts audience development

I have been catching up on You’ve Cott Mail emails this morning.  Thomas Cott is another arts administrator and advocate that scans the news for pertinent arts articles.  This week he had a series concerning programming only “familiar” repertoire.   It can be a balancing act to program the new when audiences seem to want what they are used to seeing.  I wanted to emphasize the seem.  Most audiences would enjoy more than what they are familiar with, if we support them on their arts journey.

This brings me to my main thought that popped in my head after reading all of these articles.  Do your audiences trust you?  Have you built a relationship with them where they trust you to guide them to new and slightly more adventurous art offerings?  Perhaps the fact that you don’t have a strong enough relationship with your audience means that they don’t trust you enough.

I once worked with a music director that insisted on programming some newer works after years of only the “audience pleasers.”  Since he was in the mode of getting to know the audience members, when he started to change the program format, the audience was a little nervous, but many of them were saying, “I trust him so I will listen.”   He had built the relationships and it made the audience members more secure and open to listen to new music.  They could then decide for themselves whether or not they liked the new music since they were now open.

Audience development for the arts takes on another role in this consideration.  You can develop relationships with your audience to help your audience develop on their arts journey.  When they trust you, they will be open to new possibilities.  This will mean that you can take on the role of arts guide and share the very best of the old and the new with them.  Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

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.

***Purchasing my book will help support ADS and our mission.***

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Quick observation – Top 10 list of how to manage a successful arts organization

I have been reading several articles about arts organizations that are finishing in the black.  They have these top 10 management directives in common:

1. Their budgets are not overly extravagant.  They are making sure to cover costs and attempt to build a surplus.

2. They are investing in endowments.  All of the articles that I have viewed state that the organization has an endowment and that they attempt to add to this endowment each year.

3. They fundraise constantly and use audience development techniques to convert single buyers and donors into frequent buyers and donors.

4. There is a team of people working together to promote their events, raise the money they need, and to build relationships in their community.  They provide the energy to get this important work done!

5. They are using the 4 C’s of audience development.  They connect with people, become a part of their communities, they collaborate, and they show they care about their audiences.

6. They have an outreach plan and programs.  They get out of their boxes and share with their communities.

7. They have a strong volunteer program and work with volunteers to cut costs for what they need to get done.

8.  They are frugal where they can be – they turn off the lights and don’t overspend on supplies.

9. There is a good relationship between artists and administration/boards.

10. They produce quality art for their potential and existing audiences.

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.

***Purchasing my book will help support ADS and our mission.***

My eBook

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

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Good team arts management and audience development can turn it around

I remember going through one round of union negotiations that was as nail biting as the ones I am seeing in the news about the Atlanta Symphony.  We didn’t know if we would be able to have a full season.  Cuts were on the table.  And, this was during the season, not before it, so even more crucial that decisions be made.

I watched as the decisions to shut down the office for two weeks, to have a pay cut for the staff for a month, to scale back a full orchestra concert to a chamber concert, and to issue cuts to musicians’ pay were enacted.  I didn’t feel this was the right answer at the time, but at the time, it really was an emergency.  How did the orchestra get to this point?

In a polite way, it takes good team arts management to run an orchestra.  Good team arts management consists of everyone thinking about the delicate balance of revenue and expenses at all times, and not letting either side cave in.  Here’s the funny part about arts management of old. It is not a team mentality and instead it is run by groups of separate minds.

The revenue is comprised of money from the music or the product (and people believing in the product to invest donations).  This product is made by the orchestral employees of the business.  The employees rarely have a say in the product, with the exception of the music/artistic director.  The product of live music isn’t something manufactured and then placed on a shelf to sell.  The musicians have to create the product time and time again in a live fashion.  Without the musicians, you would not have a product!

The staff and board are responsible for obtaining extra revenue to keep the budget in balance and for selling the product.  The board and executive staff are responsible for the overall budget, expenses and revenue.   The musicians do not really have a hand in this side of the business, although they may have opinions that might be voiced in the form of an orchestral committee.

If the orchestra does not balance their expenses and revenues, they will be in big trouble, which is what we are seeing these days in the news.  Running an orchestra is costly.  Obtaining funds for an orchestra year after year can feel like a monumental task. The solution that the boards and executive staffs seem to  implement every time when times are tough is to start making cuts to the staff, the music and the musicians.  This means they are cutting into their product and making cuts to the people that can sell the product.  This does not make sense to me. I never see a company in trouble actually cut their product in half and place it back on the shelf to sell.  The marketing team would need to spin how fantastic the half of a product is while the consumers know full well they are getting half a product which is not valued as much.  Since it is likely that cuts are made to marketing/development/box office during this phase, it is less likely the orchestra will have a solid staff to carry out this impossible task anyway.

I do hear of talks about looking into raising more money.  However, it is rare when I see the boards and the executive staffs step up enough to make good on their words.

All of the above leaves the audiences feeling sad, angry, not very secure about their orchestra and how they handle their monetary support.  Many of the audience members will side with the musicians since they know that it takes musicians to create the enjoyable night they are paying to see.  The audiences will be less likely to want to donate or volunteer when it gets to this point.

So, who can fix these messes?  Everyone.

1.  The board and executive staff need to step up and secure donations, sponsorships, and stronger leadership. This means that they need to acknowledge that they may need extra help to get them out of this mess.

2. The executive staff needs to allocate some of the budget for audience development programs.  Audience development programs can create more audience and more donors and volunteers.  This also means having the money for outreach events and for paying the musicians for these events.  If there is no money to allocate (usually there is, but for devils advocate sake), the musicians would be wise to volunteer for a round of these outreach concerts until money will be set aside for their pay in the future.

3. Everyone needs to start connecting with people again and becoming part of the community.  More collaborations need to be made at this time.  More implementing of programs that show you care about your audience through this tough phase is crucial.

4. Everyone needs to start connecting with each other in order to run the business properly.  Since the musicians create the product, maybe they should have a little more say in this part of the  equation.  Since the board and staff are responsible for the budgets and for selling the organization and product, the musicians need to listen to them as well.  Everyone in a non-profit needs to step up, donate and volunteer at some point.  It takes a team to make a non-profit business successful.

5. If cuts are being made to musicians and staff pay, cuts should also be made to executive pay.  If you do not act as a team during this phase, people will simply remain resentful. Everyone should take the hit.  In our age of easy transparency, if someone catches wind that the executive staff is not taking any cuts, it will look bad for the organization.

6. The board needs to be responsible for the overall health of the organization.  If the organization isn’t healthy, then you need a different board or different board dynamic.  The challenge is that the board is in charge of themselves (similar to how our congress runs in America).  It will take a mighty strong leader to start implementing board evaluations and making changes that are necessary to get the board functioning properly again.

7. The organization needs to realize that every component is important for running an arts organization.  Cutting off one part will hurt the whole, which is why we see some of these organizations going into bankruptcy and closing their doors.  Until everyone works together and does their job to correct the imbalances, the organization will not be able to turn around.

8. The audiences need to learn that ticket prices only pay for 30-40% of the costs of the orchestra.  Audiences, if they want the orchestra to succeed, could volunteer their time to help bring others to the orchestra and donate monetary support above the cost of the tickets to increase the revenue stream.  However, audience development programs need to be ready and in place, and audiences need to be invited to participate and get more involved.  These programs will be seen as positive energy and will show that the orchestra is working toward a positive direction.

9.  In fact, everyone that is part of the organization should be responsible for “selling.”  Everyone can be an ambassador for the organization and  invite people to attend the various events.  Everyone can be more involved with connecting, collaborating, caring and becoming a part of the community on behalf of the orchestra.  The main problem with these old fashioned non-profits is all the “it’s not my job” that has been established.  A new team mentality needs to be born instead.

I have likened the bigger arts organization to a Titanic.  If something goes wrong, it will take different actions, not remaining the course, to turn the big ship around.  If you remain the course, your ship will hit the iceberg, and things will start sinking.

The audience of your product is also the audience of your business.  They will be the ones watching your ship sink.  Wouldn’t you rather have them watching and enjoying the music?

It takes a team to create an orchestra arts organization, and it will take a team to run it successfully as well. Everyone can roll up their sleeves and get to work to create a healthier organization.  Functioning as a team is good arts management and using audience development for a solution is too.

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.

***Purchasing my book will help support ADS and our mission.***

My eBook

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

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Guest Post By: Catherine Starek, Graduate Arts Management Student at American University
Learn more about Catherine in this emerging arts leader Q&A post


(Photo Source)

Millennial generation – “Generations, like people, have personalities, and Millennials – the American teens and twenty-somethings (ages 18-29) who are making the passage into adulthood at the start of a new millennium – have begun to forge theirs: confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change.”[1]

It is no secret that symphony orchestras are facing hard and changing times.  In addition to the challenges posed by the struggling economy, symphony audiences are continuing to increase in age as overall attendance continues to decline (Alan Brown’s Classical Music Consumer Segmentation Study and Thomas Wolf’s “The Search for Shining Eyes”).  This decline has been most dramatic among young adults over the past thirty years.  Without adequate numbers of younger people to eventually replace…

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Outreach, rinse, repeat for arts audience development

Do you want to get a good lather going for audience development?  I know you have heard me mention outreach before, but I’m not sure everyone has taken action.  There are two ways to develop an audience.  You can throw tons of money into marketing efforts, and if you have the tons of money to advertise everywhere, you might get a big enough percentage to see your audience grow (albeit mostly temporarily if no follow up occurs).  The second way to develop an audience is through sweat equity using audience development programs and outreach efforts.  With outreach efforts, you can put in the time and show up, share, become a part of your community and become recognized to build your audiences.

Many of you do not have the tons of money to throw at a huge enough marketing effort, but you can put in the sweat equity.  It takes time, but you will only need little amounts of money to do outreach properly.  Here is a list of tasks you can take on to help develop your audiences through outreach efforts:

  • Find your local community events – evaluate which ones fit with you and your missionset up a table
    It usually costs $25-150 to table at one of these events.  If you have a program that can provide entertainment, you can get a table for free, and you might get paid as well.  This is the place where you can meet the people that are interested, but are not attending.  I get this question, a lot.  How do we speak with the people that are not attending.  This is one way to do it!
  • Retweet valuable information on Twitter – Find out what your followers are interested in, and retweet content that they would enjoy. This will help you go beyond the marketing tweets (which can turn off followers if that’s all you tweet about).  This means that when you see an article your followers would be interested in, retweet!
  • Become a creative for your community and help to solve problems – I recently saw a presentation where a light artist created an installation to help make the city safer.  Artists can solve problems in creative ways to help their community.
  • Give to others to bring awareness for yourself – People these days admire businesses that also help other people.  Artists and arts organizations can make a huge difference with their art and create positive energy toward awareness and dollars for social causes.  In the process, you will be helping yourself too by bringing in new audiences and energy toward your art.
  • Create events that tie into a bigger picture – If there is a national event that is hosted by a bigger entity, find a way to create a local event to invite fans to connect with you.  You will find a regional audience that would be a good fit for you too.
  • Develop programs to have your audiences do the outreaching for you – People are sharing! Compelling stories, programs, videos, pictures are share worthy. Develop strong content and incentives to get people wanting to share and outreach for you.

I hope you see that all 4 C’s will be represented when you do outreach properly for audience development (Connect, Collaborate, Community, Care).  It does take some time and hard work, but if you really want an audience – outreach, rinse (evaluate), repeat!

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.

***Purchasing my book will help support ADS and our mission.***

My eBook

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

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Audience Development tip of the day: Retweeting on Twitter for more followers #auddev

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