Monthly Archives: July 2013

Are the youth wanting to be artists only?

I normally do not post this much during the week, but I am thinking out loud this morning.  Please consider this post a draft of a more refined conversation in the future.

In terms of the performing arts, I have been seeing a great many articles about how the youth are saving the arts.  Here is one from this morning: These kids are reviving the heart and soul of classical music.

The article mentions the superb playing ability of these younger musicians, and yes, it is about a youth orchestra.  Yet, I am wondering, the young people who do not become professional musicians of an orchestra, are they becoming audience members?

The reports of the past indicate that the audience is mainly comprised of people that have participated in the arts either via school, private lessons, or a community outlet.  The reports are surveying audiences of today.  The majority of audiences of today are still Baby Boomer generation and up.

Case in point, I went to a concert last night, a chamber music concert with Glass, Verdi and Wagner.  It was a great mix of new and old pieces that are rarely performed.  I looked around, and GenX me was the youngest one there!  There were no millennials, except onstage.  There were no other GenXers except onstage.  This was a concert performed in a very cool, new community venue too.

There is a great concern here.  For the hands-on generations, even though they may have had lessons, may have performed in their high school plays, may have taken art classes, I have to wonder about the disconnect from those reports past.  Why are they not becoming the new audience members?  Probably because they are busy developing their own worlds instead.  They prefer it this way for the most part.  Or is it the fact that the percentage of youth that enjoy classical performances are the ones on the stage? Or maybe they are the ones in the administration background instead?  Either way, they are part of the action and not part of the audience.

I remember asking a younger performer who was in town if he ever was able to be an audience member.  He replied that he almost never had the time.

Another story closer to home, I have a dear friend who is coming to visit soon. We were both in our college philharmonic, both music majors, and both decided not to become professional orchestra members.  When I mentioned a concert that we could go to, she didn’t respond to the concert and instead sent me a list of different activities to do.  I was very surprised.  Either the idea of being an audience member doesn’t appeal to her, or music has scorned her in some way where she doesn’t want to participate at all anymore (which also can happen).  The Shakespeare Festival didn’t appeal to her either, but she did mention going to a movie or perhaps the new Stories on Stage format that we have here, because it was something new to her. Something new and different seems to buzz for younger people.

Programs such as “Rusty Musicians” and other hands-on programming may be needed to get these generations to transition, and I am very curious to see if the transition occurs or if they only want to go to the formats where they are part of the action.

What is interesting is that for the performances that do have younger people attending, such as the club atmospheres and the more casual formats, the younger audience may not have been arts participants in the past.  They might just be young people looking for something different and fun to do as previously mentioned.

In conclusion, we need a new survey that will report about the younger generations, which is harder to obtain since they are not a part of the main audiences.  If you happen to be a venue/artist/organization who is able to obtain these younger audience members, please, help us all out by surveying and reporting back to us.

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

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

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

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The uncomfortableness of old and new side by side?

My friend, Dale, sent me a thread to look at on Reddit: Going to my first symphony, what are some tips for my first experience?

This ongoing conversation has me thinking about traditions and their protocols.  The traditions with the respective protocols are generated by people.  People adopt these ways, and a status quo forms.

We are currently in the wave of changes in status quo and our traditions are being challenged.  I have mentioned traditions and status quo a few times now, but I have yet to explore it further than the thought that changes are happening and people are taking sides due to these changes.

Currently, I am thinking about the Amish way of life.  Back in the day, the majority of people churned their own butter, plowed the fields with horses and donkeys, sewed and washed their clothes by hand and built their own furniture.  When steam, gas, electricity, came into the picture, everything changed and the old way of living was put to rest, except in the places where people chose to continue to live the old traditional lifestyle.  We have pockets of the old among the new.  The Amish live a quiet life in a hidden pocket of our noisy society.  They are still in existence and have not died in the process of change.

I feel that we can have pockets of tradition to be side by side with the new.  The key is to figure out which end of the spectrum you choose to live in.  If you do decide to choose the old traditions, which is fine, be prepared to live in your pocket, your extreme niche.  You will still find an audience, yet it will be a smaller, more specific audience.  If you want to break out of the traditions, be prepared to risk, experiment, reach out to new audiences, and change with the times.

It doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.  We can complain about the new audiences and their disrespect for the old traditional way of presenting the arts, or we can choose to be comfortable and live in the direction that we decide is best.  Neither way is wrong.  It’s only a matter of choice!

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

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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Are orchestras starting to Sprawl-Mart?

I hope everyone knows the business I am referring to when I code it “Sprawl-Mart” (thank you Simpsons).  This organization has done considerable damage to our economy by demanding the lowest price for cheaper and cheaper produced products.  They have cut corners in many ways:

  • Demanding their suppliers produce overseas for cheaper production and materials.  This has closed the majority of factories in the U.S.A. which has put a big percentage of our workers out of work.
    Is this similar to how some orchestras are employing the non-regular musicians to save a buck?
  • Slashing hours and benefits of their employees.  They mainly hire PT employees, do not pay overtime, yet shuffle the schedule around so much that most of these employees do end up working more than one shift disguised enough so FT or overtime do not come into the picture.
    Certain orchestras are slashing programming, salaries, and benefits which is making it more challenging for a musician to create a living.
  • The commercials paint a rosy picture of how they are saving the public money.  The products are not as durable, so they might not actually be saving people money if they have to buy replacements sooner than later.  CEO’s at certain orchestras equally paint rosy pictures claiming that this “new” orchestra and way of functioning is better than before.
  • The pay of the top CEO’s are 1700+:1.  This is how much more they make vs. the average worker.
    The CEO’s of these certain orchestras are still being paid well while the musicians and staff’s salaries and hours are being cut.

There is one big difference.  The non-profit model is accountable to their audiences, and the audiences are not liking the “Sprawl-Mart” mentality.  They want the musicians to be taken care of and to be happy so they can enjoy the orchestra they have come to know and love. This affects audience development, and it will take a long time to undo the damage to rebuild trust and loyalty of audience members.

Sprawl-Mart still has the buffer of the non-awareness of the general public.  They spend tons of money on feel good publicity to create a facade to cover up the real background and the damage that they are doing to us all.

Again, I’m not saying that all orchestras function in this matter, only certain orchestras.  I know of many that do have their musicians and staff in mind, and their audiences, when conducting business.  They use a better way of managing an arts organization that will benefit all who are involved.  I do hope their thoughtful mentality will serve as a good example to the “Sprawl-Marts” of our time.

This post was inspired by Drew McManus of Adaptistration.  Check out his blog!

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

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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Youth Turn to Tech, ‘Interest-Driven’ Arts Expression as Schools Trim Arts Education Budgets, Report Finds

Link to the PND (Philanthropy News Digest) article.

I received the report from the Wallace Foundation in my inbox, but it took this article to prompt me to finally open the report and have a look.  The summary points out the increasing use of technology to fill the void of arts due to budget cuts to arts education in schools.  It sites some examples of how we can embrace this trend and use the available technology to champion new arts education efforts.  It also states how to categorize and evaluate young people according to their level of interest in the arts to cater programs specifically for them.

I guess in one sense, the individual attention to arts learners could be a good addition, but I have mixed feelings about this direction.  It almost has the feel of, “If you can’t beat it, join it.”  I realize that our world is changing rapidly, and we are quickly becoming a Do It Yourself society.  You don’t even have to step outside to go to school anymore if you rather learn at your own pace online. 

How are these changes going to affect the arts? 

As I have mentioned before, the younger generations crave the hands-on experiences.  They are bored to death otherwise. These new technologies give them the outlets to do so.  They are learning how to create online or using apps with their friends.  For example, my step-daughter is enjoying writing stories with one of her friends online using an application that allows them to go back and forth in their writing.  They are creating whole-heartedly, self driven to create. 

Of course we want to encourage this self driven interest in the arts, however, what does this say for supporting the arts that require you to watch other people create?  Yes, we can include some engagement programs to go with the performances, and this will change our presentations considerably.  It’s already happening!

For someone who is from the generation in the middle of all this, GenX, I can feel how uncomfortable it is to go through this shift. I embrace the new technologies with the gifts of do it yourself creating, yet if this is all the arts will become, it is going to be quite noisy with individuals clamoring for attention, and our audiences will become small little niche markets even beyond where they are now.

I’m glad they finally did a report on this subject.  I invite you to add your thoughts to explore where we are going and how does it make you feel to be in this transition. 

-Shoshana

 

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July 25, 2013 · 9:19 am

Be an artist and a business for audience development

Tonight I will be giving a presentation on Audience Building for All and the Top 20 Tips for Increasing Everything.  If you are in the Boulder/Denver area, check it out and join me!  One of the points I will be discussing is the tip to be your artist self and be creative.  It is a little ironic that sometimes in attempts to appear business-like, we are ditching our creative selves and instead showing the world a version of us that is not really us. Rather we are projecting what we think people want or “expect” us to look like or be as a business.

An arts business is a business, yes, and we have to run the business like a business.  This, however, does not mean that we can’t have a little fun, that we can’t be our unique, visual, colorful selves.  In fact, the more we can show our true colors, the easier it will be to attract the right types of people for our audiences.   Think about the regular business world.  The companies that are standing out are using the arts to make them sparkle.  We need to be doing this too!

The good news, we are getting a little better at this.  I had done a quick study on orchestra and theatre company sites two years ago.  This first round of looking was a little dismal with similar, non-artsy sites.  Today, I am starting to see more individual personalities and more artistic natures in the redesigns.  Hurray!

This philosophy can be carried through to all that you do.  Is your artist self shining through? Is your marketing and branding specifically your artsy you? Do the visuals, colors, and messages you send out into the world speak your individual artistic language?  Do the letters you send out have your special tone of voice and artistic feel?  Do your programs have the creative spark that set you apart?  Buttom line, are you being your unique artistic self in everything that you do?

In the end, yes, we do want to appear professional, yet we also want to impress as the creative artists that we are.  This step will help you to stand out and gain the right audiences specifically for you.  It may also make you feel good and honor that being your crazy artist self in our inundated business world is a better way to go.

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

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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Arts Advocacy – speak up to congress to say nay to 49% NEA cuts!

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I am quickly re-posting instructions for getting in touch with your representative to let them know we won’t stand for the cutting the arts.  We have been the scapegoat, the punching bag, while we continue to improve our communities and people’s lives on a daily basis. 

Please send a quick letter/post/tweet today! 

  1. Write to your Representative: http://bit.ly/fIQsbC
  2. Write to your Senator: http://bit.ly/fIQsbC
  3. Write to your local media:

4. Write a tweet! You can use your zip code to find out if your representative or senator is on Twitter: http://www.tweetcongress.org/

5. Post these instructions on Twitter/Facebook, etc. for others to get involved.

Thank you for speaking up and becoming an arts advocate!

-Shoshana

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The power to change

Today, I am referring you to my personal blog.  It was too personal to post here directly, but I did want to share with you my thoughts this morning about change.  Click on the title and it will take you there.  Thank you, dear reader, for continuing this journey with me.

-Shoshana

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July 22, 2013 · 10:03 am