Monthly Archives: March 2013

Taking time off

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 offthe 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 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,


Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists


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

Please consider supporting ADS so we can continue our work.  Donate here! 

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

My eBook


Filed under Arts, arts management, Audience Development

Recording for ADS Webinar, March 15, 2013

The recording for the webinar we had last Friday – Classical Music: The challenges of making the affection clear – is now available!  Please click on the link above (title link) to register for access to the recording.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana Fanizza
Audience development Specialists

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March 22, 2013 · 1:27 pm

Going in circles or Artsitis

Artsitis – Will you work for the cure?

I feel the arts are a bit dis-eased.  Budget cuts, shrinking audiences, and other gloom and doom that hits the news regularly are casting a murky illness over what we could be doing to better the situation.  I have good news and bad news.  Which would you like first?  The bad news?

The bad news is that the majority in our industry have Artsitis with the nasty symptoms of going in circles, feelings of paralysis, and whoa as me pox.  The symptoms worsen with each focus on the negative and each complaint about what is going wrong, which leads to migraines and nervous breakdowns.  This group of arts folks keep bashing out the what is wrong scenario.  They hire expensive research teams to calculate and articulate what is wrong and what should be done, over and over again.  They attempt to paint a different picture to funders while doing the same clunky, tired out programs.  The puss builds and oozes, the germs spread, the infection infects, particularly in bigger gathering places, where frequent Artsitis outbreaks have been documented.  You see, the shoulds and all the talk about the problems add up to more dis-ease.

This dis-ease makes my skin itch and my brain twitch.  I am sick with concern that as an industry, we are heading in the wrong direction and/or moving at such a snail pace that life will run us over and bury us in its dust.

The good news, which is desperately needed to ease the pain, there is a cure for Artsitis and some artists and arts organizations have already been applying the dosage.  It’s called audience development in all its varying forms:

  • Research that focuses on solutions that turns into programs for building your audience
  • Technology formats that engage, educate and inform your audiences
  • Outreach projects with the intention of starting relationships with people that are not attending
  • Social media which is social
  • Diversity programs that bring people of varying cultures together
  • Fundraising projects that get the audiences involved

I could go on and on.  In order to be effective, what do all of these audience development points have in common?  Focused planning and committed action.  Instead of contracting Artsitis, going in circles, and applying bandages of conversation, action (the antidote) is being taken. There are examples out there of people experimenting with their dosage in order to get to what works to cure their dis-ease.

Artsitis is making us turn blue (and green with envy of those already working toward their cure), and making us feel blue about our industry.  We feel panicked and out of control.  We feel fear that we don’t have enough time to turn things around.  Misery loves company, so we talk and talk and talk about what needs to happen, what needs to shift, instead of actually doing something about it.

Maybe we all (myself included) need to take a big dose of reality medicine and realize that if we don’t start taking action to make the changes, Artsitis will eventually kill us.  Strikes and bankruptcies galore.  This is not the arts world I would like to envision.

Aren’t you tired of going in circles or moving at a speed that is easily passed by?  I know I am.  So, I will be taking a huge dose in the coming month of April.  I am taking time to evaluate, research and plan for the next phase, and then action will happen at an experimental speed!  We all can take this dose of medicine any time we want.  There is no shame in taking the time out to mentally and physically prepare for action. In May, I will shift to action.  I admit that I have contracted a little bit of Artsitis, and now it is time to cure what is ailing me.

It’s the action, in the end, that will cure Artsitis after all.   Will you help me work for the cure?

What action are you taking to build relationships with your audiences?  Let’s talk about solutions!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists


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

Please consider supporting ADS so we can continue our work.  Donate here! 

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

My eBook

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Filed under Arts, arts advocacy, arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development, Fundraising

Random thoughts III for arts audience development


At least, I think I am on number 3 for my random thoughts posts.  I had a nice weekend to stew on a few thoughts that I wish to share with you.

  • We could use more adult education classes to get adults appreciating the arts again.  I see a slow trend toward developing these types of classes, but they can’t come soon enough.  If adults can see how the arts apply to them too, we will all be better off.  One slight problem is when the community centers are the only places offering “adult” classes, and they typically start at 13 or 16 years of age.  This can be quite off-putting to adults that do want to learn, but without being lumped in with teenagers.
  • Speaking of education, I’ve been amazed at the low attendance figures for business of arts workshops in general.  These workshops are mainly an inexpensive way to learn what we need to know, however, not many people are signing up for these opportunities.  These workshops/classes should be bursting at the seams!
  • Audience development can promote a show and it can be used for current and future shows.   This simply means that you are researching for the best audiences and working with your current audiences to build bigger and better audiences for your current and future shows.  It’s a momentum game to keep up!  I hope this makes sense.
  • Be the change you wish to see, specifically for the help you need.  Sometimes I am amazed at people asking for favors of another person when it has been a long time since they have helped that other person themselves.  We all need support.  Instead of out of the blue asking someone to help you, why not help that other person first to get the ball rolling?
  • When you have someone new follow you on a social media network, do not slam them with a marketing message at first.  Take the time to get to know them as a person first, then share a bit about what you have to offer them.   Otherwise, it simply is what I call a distasteful direct spam message.
  • This one might get me in trouble, but I feel the U.S. has it backwards.  Audience Development should not be put under the umbrella of marketing.  We would all function better if Audience Development as a department would oversee marketing and development, or at least be an EQUAL department in and of itself.  It’s too important to have it shoved under a different department.  Audience Development should not be an additional or after thought.  It really needs to be front and center.  If we can change this mentality, there is huge hope for finally getting our audiences fully involved again.
  • Customer service rules!  Or at least it should.  I had two restaurant experiences which I will talk about more later, but in a nutshell, both places were asking questions to find the best service for their customers.  These questions were asked before the customer could ask them, meaning the restaurants took the initiative to get it right in the first place!
  • If you post an email on your website, and people use it to contact you, try to get back to them sooner than later (or sooner than never).  I have contacted a few organizations and artists about their work, and they never got back to me.  You never know if one of these people that contact you, regardless of what they were seeking from you in the first place, will be the next super supporter for you.
  • Recharging your batteries once in a while is important!  I finally had a weekend of laziness where I could just be.  I’m thinking I might need a little bit more of this type of time out and time off to charge myself for another phase of being.  Stay tuned on this one.

Did you have any random thoughts come to you this past weekend?  Please feel free to share with everyone by replying. 

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists


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

Please consider supporting ADS so we can continue our work.  Donate here! 

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

My eBook

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Filed under Arts, Audience Development

Final plea – Invite to webinar tomorrow for classical music audience development

For my email subscribers, please click on the web link for this one. Thank you all for listening!

With hope,

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‘SEE’ the power of music for arts audience development!

We are leading up to the Classical Music Webinar on Friday! Today we have a guest post by Catherine Starek.  Catherine is a graduate student with the desire to promote the arts to younger audiences.  She came across a particular type of program, symphonic photochoreography, that is being used by some orchestras with great results.  The following is her personal experience and opinions about this presentation and how it might be one answer for reaching out to new and younger audiences.  Enjoy!


Do you ever wish you could ‘SEE’ the power of music?
bv Catherine Starek

If you answered yes, you aren’t alone. Some symphony orchestras are exploring innovative audio-visual performance options, such as James Westwater‘s symphonic photochoreography.

What is symphonic photochoreography? James Westwater explains: “Symphonic photochoreography is an innovative art form that engages audiences worldwide with evocative, multi-image photographic essays choreographed and performed live to selected works of classical music.” Learn more>>


Baltimore Symphony performs a Westwater KCC piece.

I have attended two such performances, combining video and live orchestra.  The first was a performance of the Wizard of Oz by the North Carolina Symphony.

Every summer, the NC Symphony performs in Cary’s beautiful Koka Booth Amphitheatre. It is a lovely space with an expansive lawn, acres of surrounding forest, and a uniquely designed wooden stage situated next to Symphony Lake.  Members of the NCS staff roamed throughout the crowd, dressed as various Oz characters for the concert and screening of the Wizard of Oz.  The children’s  faces lit up with glee at the opportunity to meet Glinda the good witch, participate in the pre-concert “instrument zoo,” and stretch out on the lawn with their family for a picnic.  It was absolutely delightful.

North Carolina Symphony at Koka Booth (or Emerald City), July 10, 2010

Once the concert began, familiar sights and sounds flooded my senses. Hearing the music live was so exciting and the North Carolina Symphony performed with excellent precision and dynamic passion. The music coordinated perfectly with the moving images on the screen (sound track removed, of course). This was not only one of the most memorable concert experiences I have ever had, it made me appreciate the great talent, musical expression, and dynamism of the North Carolina Symphony musicians even more.

Video Games Live was another spectacular audio-visual performance experience. The Music Center at Strathmore located in North Bethesda, MD presented Video Games Live during their 2010-2011 concert season.  The multi-media extravaganza featured renowned video game composer, Tommy Tallarico, and incorporated members of the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale.  This too was an interactive audience experience.  Some of the highlights included Guitar Hero play-offs, an audience costume contest — although this time, instead of mini Dorothy’s and flying monkeys, Nintendo characters such as the Mario Bros and even Tingle from the Legend of Zelda co-mingled in the hall — and a Video Games Live soundtrack and poster raffle.

Tingle, missing his balloon – Strathmore presents Video Games Live on April 7, 2012

The concert itself incorporated dynamic, rock concert lighting, video game screen shots projected on three enormous screens on stage, and the National Philharmonic performing video game music live.  Members of the audience ranged across all generations and people young and old found common ground with video games they had grown up with and loved.  I felt like I was in a sports stadium.  As the concert progressed, the audience would interact with the performance onstage (without the fear that normally accompanies the interruption of an orchestra).  People would laugh, cheer, clap and outright holler with approval. You could tell everyone was having a great time.  It was another exciting concert that I will never forget. (Read about the entire experience here>>)

What does this mean in terms of audience development,especially among younger audiences?

The themes running throughout the majority of comments about this type of format run from interactive and intergenerational, to dynamic, exciting, and more.  Concerts that stimulate both the visual and audio senses, at least in my opinion, seem stickier.  Highly memorable and interactive.  Finding common ground with so many members of your community is exciting in itself and I think these concerts provide a forum that makes this possible.  It’s not just music, it’s a concert experience...a shared concert experience that becomes a story that audiences want to share with their family and friends.

With innovative partnerships, dynamic multimedia, and exciting, multi-sensory audience experiences such as these, I encourage symphony orchestras to continue thinking outside of tradition, push their creative boundaries, and connect with their audiences in a variety of ways that are relevant and interesting to them.  This means you have to know your audience, which takes time and stems from strong relationships.  With audio-visual performances to facilitate social interaction and common ground, and enthusiastic, dedicated arts organizations, I think symphony orchestras in the U.S. and abroad have a lot to look forward to on the audience development horizon.

As Ms. Fanizza of Audience Development Specialists would say:“Cheers to happy and loyal audiences!”

What do you think of these “unconventional” performances? Do you think multi-sensory performances are distracting or enhancing to the symphony orchestra experience?

*     *     *

Recommended Reading

More than Meets the Ear: Orchestras dive into the wide, wide world of multimedia performance.This issue of SYMPHONY Magazine “highlights how orchestras utilize and benefit from multimedia, such as Westwater’s photochoreography (article cover photo).”

The League of American Orchestra’s SYMPHONY magazine.

To read the article, click here>>

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Catherine Starek holds a bachelor’s of music education degree from UNC-Wilmington and is pursuing a master’s of arts management at American University in Washington, DC. She is completing her graduate research on the Millennial generation, and effective strategies for engaging younger audiences and donors in the U.S. symphony orchestra experience. [:O)]

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists


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


Filed under Audience Development

When was the last time for arts audience development?

When was the last time you went to an arts event?

When was the last time you invited someone to an arts event?

When was the last time you shared a piece of music with someone in your life?

When was the last time you created a work of art?

When was the last time you searched for a fun arts event for the weekend?

When was the last time you shared an arts event on your social media feed?

When was the last time you wore a piece of art?

When was the last time you bought a button, bumper sticker or t-shirt to support the arts?

When was the last time you donated to the arts?

When was the last time you spread the word about an arts fundraiser?

When was the last time you read about the arts in the local newspapers?

When was the last time you volunteered for the arts?

When was the last time you listened to music?

When was the last time you sang, danced, wrote, painted, illustrated, doodled?

When was the last time you bought a piece of art?

When was the last time you purchased music?

When was the last time you watched an actor on the stage?

When was the last time you went to see live music?

When was the last time you saw someone dance?

When was the last time you went to a museum or gallery?

When was the last time you realized that film and television are comprised of the arts?

When was the last time you discovered that the arts make marketing creative?

When was the last time you realized that photography is art?

When was the last time you appreciated that design of a piece of furniture, appliance or other home utility?

When was the last time you read a good book?

When was the last time you took your kids to an arts event?

When was the last time you created art with your kids?

When was the last time you were moved by the arts?

Supporting the arts starts with each one of us with everyday interactions.  When was the last time you supported the arts?


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