Focus is key for arts audience development

I have been thinking a great deal about focus.  In a conversation, I mentioned that what you focus on is what will come to life.  I also expressed how many non-profit executives are scattered when it comes to what is on their plate.

In my humble opinion, I feel that a majority of organizations and some artists have too much on their plates.  They feel everything is important, but what tends to happen with this mentality of spreading yourself thin?  You tend to do everything half-assed (excuse my crudeness).  Certain tasks end up falling through the cracks, and you can end up damaging important relationships, in addition to not seeing very good results overall.  Furthermore, if you have capacity issues, this will only add to the burden and staggering weight on the people involved and burn everyone to a crisp.

This spreading yourself thin can apply to the overall strategic planning for the year, how your staff and board functions, your programming in attempts to please everyone, etc., etc.  Spreading yourself thin is only going to deliver “thin” results.  Don’t you want fat, gargantuan, successful outcomes?

In order to get away from this mentality, some very difficult decisions need to happen.  You need to evaluate and prioritize and ultimately let some things go.  If you keep attempting to focus on everything, nothing big will really happen.  If you allow yourself to go through this, albeit difficult process, you will reap the benefits.

Here is a point by point example of what you will want to do:

  • Start with your mission – remind yourself who you are
  • Take a look at all that you have on your plate and get rid of the programs/projects that are not in alignment
  • Think about what you want to ultimately achieve – dream big – and pick one or two objectives for the year
  • Choose your audience development goals using this big picture
  • Plan out your audience development programs, in alignment with your mission and audiences, and implement over the year
  • Track and evaluate throughout the year and decide to change, carry over to next year, or replace with a different program if necessary

If you really want to develop a quality audience, figure out what is important to you, make sure it is aligned with your mission, who you are, and who your audiences are, and plan on focusing on a little at a time to get bigger results.  I am seeing that when artists and organizations use this laser like focus, amazing results are happening!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists


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

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Filed under arts management, Audience Development

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