My LinkedIn Profile is reminding me that ADS had been in business for over 5 years now. During this time, I have been proud to say I have accomplished most of what I put my mind and energy toward. I have helped to build audiences for artists and arts organizations. I have spread the love for audience development and arts advocacy. I have written a book (use code VERNUM through March 31 to get 20% off) to clarify the meaning of audience development and what it can do for you. I have been fairly consistent in writing my blog posts and doing other freebies along the way, such as #auddev chats, as well as setting up webinars that were useful to the people who attended.
To be honest though, I am feeling pretty crispy. Despite a very enthusiastic fan base, which I am so grateful to all of you for your support, promoting audience development has been quite a challenge. It is still a buzz word and people are not sure what it means and what it can do. Plus, many people are buzzing about it incorrectly (which is particularly painful to see).
The good news, the buzz for audience development is heightening. Funders are clamoring for it now. More people are genuinely seeing it as a potential solution. People are realizing that building an audience in a more authentic way is of front and center importance.
The bad news is and has been, ADS has not grown past a part-time endeavor. Does this mean people do not need audience development as I originally and continually thought? No, they actually need it more than ever. What has really happened? I seem to have created for the need before the desire kicked in. Simply put, I created before the people wanted. Now sometimes this is a good way to start a business. However, it only works if a major industry shift happens to see that the need is actually a want. This has not happened yet. Generally, people are still holding onto doing things the same way as before. I have only been able to help the few that are truly wanting to create a bigger and better audience.
My other concern is for the folks that attempt to hire someone to implement audience development in the realm of marketing. I have seen this not work out so well. It puts audience development in a bad light because they do not know what audience development truly is and instead are attempting to fit it in the box of typical marketing. No wonder this path is not working!
You can add to this the fact that some brilliant minds are being pushed back and ignored due to needing to remain status quo (which obviously is outweighing the need to change for building audiences). We have mostly been all talk and little action.
As you can see, I am starting to get ARTSitis and it is best to step back and get well instead of joining the ranks of the complainers and yes, but-ters. I think I may have more frustrations than the artists and organizations at this point, yet, it is still not good to join the crowd of people that keep doting on the negatives instead of solving for the positives.
I am officially taking a little break to evaluate and brainstorm in regard to the future of ADS. Despite the work I have done which has been beneficial for my field and for my clients, I have yet to make ADS beneficial for myself. It has been quite the adventure, which I have updated you from time to time. All the minor changes did not make enough of a splash. A major change may be needed!
I am scheduling a month off – the month of April – when most of ADS activities will stop for this time frame.
For my blog followers, there are a ton of archives to sift through to help you get ideas churning. I myself am amazed at all that has been written, and I dare say, sometimes I am starting to repeat myself a bit. Time off will do the trick to freshen my outlook and get a clean and clear new perspective!
If you follow me on Twitter, I will still be around, but more for conversation. My brain has been picked freely over these 5 years, and instead, I might be asking you a few questions to figure out my next steps. We will, however, be having our already scheduled #auddev chat:
Thursday, April 18, 2013 – Noon ET on Twitter
Orchestra Management and Audience Relations
Drew McManus, Orchestral Arts Consultant and author of Adaptistration.com will be chatting with us about Orchestra Management and how it affects audience relations, especially during the negotiation season. How can we make sure our audience relations are positive experiences even in challenging times.
For my eMazing News followers, I will be sending you a message soon to let you know my thoughts about this format. I am finding myself increasingly uncomfortable with one-way formats.
For all my other social media followers, again, I will probably still be around, but not with as much frequency as before.
It is time to take this step back, this time off, to figure out what you truly want and need at this moment in time. One of my idols, Albert Einstein, is giving me the advice that I need. It is time to stop and make a change so I can have different results.
Thank you for understanding, and I hope to hear from you during my time off. See you on the flip-side!
Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Audience Development Specialists
“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
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