Monthly Archives: October 2013

Halloween YouTube Kinda Mood 2013

Happy Halloween!  Halloween is the second biggest holiday of the year, yet there were few videos to choose from. I did happen to find some good ones.  I hope you get into the scary act next year, and for now, enjoy:

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Press releases the audience development way

I believe I have written about this topic before, but I wanted to reiterate the reasons behind sending out your releases the audience development way.  This means that you are building relationships with the members of the press instead of treating your release as a mass marketing effort.  Here is a list of tips:

  • Send out one at a time with a message.  It does take more time, but this will increase the likelihood that your release will be seen and read.
  • If you can’t send out one at a time, at least blind copy your list.  I happened to be on a press list once due to being an Examiner writer for my area.  I was being sent a one-size fits all release with the entire list showing.  How do you think the receivers feel receiving this format?  Well, they may just think that someone else might cover it so why bother.  They might also ruffle at seeing their competition listed. 
  • Input their names into your email contact base.  It was shocking to see “no name listed” beside some of the emails.
  • Offer exclusive stories for special events.  This means you will need to build relationships first, but I ended up getting some fantastic television coverage doing a few exclusives with a particular news outlet.  It fit their news format best, and the right audiences watch their news program, so it made a lot of sense.
  • Make sure a teaser and basic information is in the body of the email.  They may not have time to click on the attachment, which means it can get “shuffled” in their inbox and forgotten about.  Having the important details up front to get their attention right away is the way to go.
  • Send the releases in a timely manner.  Most outlets appreciate 3-4 weeks before as the sweet spot.  Enough time ahead, but not too much ahead for them to forget about it.
  • Follow up 2 weeks before the event with a fresh update.  This is also a good way to build the relationship with them.
  • Take the time to update your lists regularly and build relationships with the new people.  Press jobs seem to rotate consistently.  Emailing the new people as an introduction is always a good idea.
  • Cater the release to the media outlet.  One-size does not fit all, and this step will increase the likelihood of getting covered.
  • Go out to coffee with the local editors.  This really worked for me.
  • Give your releases personality.  Aside from catering to their specific outlet, make sure the release has some personality. Add a quote or testimonial from a key person.  Relate a story to get them hooked. Attach a fun small file photo and offer to send more upon their request. 
  • Only send attachment files that are 1 MB or less (in total).  Jamming their email program is not going to help you get coverage.
  • Create an online press kit if you have events all the time and email the press when another segment is up on the website. 
  • Hire someone to help you if you are having trouble getting results.  They can steer you in the right direction by guiding you to create templates that will work for you. 
  • If you have the funds, hire someone fabulous who already does publicity with an audience development angle.

Sending out press releases the audience development way has been extremely successful for me, and it can be for you too!


The How of Audience Development for the Arts


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Do you know who your arts people are?

Quick thought for the day: Do you know who your arts people are in your neighborhood?  Are there people in your community that are artists from a previous life that you are not connecting with?  These are people that may have studied an art form previously and decided to do something else for their day jobs.  They might also be arts administrators now.

These types of people are out there, and it would be a fabulous idea to find them and make a special connection to them.  You see, I am one of these people.  I have a degree in music.  I know some people in my community know that I am one of the arts people, yet are they making an effort to invite me personally?  Very few are.  I usually attend when they extend this type of personal invitation too. 

Also, don’t forget the people that you have worked with in the past (and have left on good terms).  You could look up the history of who has worked at your organization in the past and rekindle the relationship. 

I know there are others like me in your community, people who have arts in their lives past and present that are not attending your events.  So, do yourself a huge favor and discover these people.  You may find them casually in a conversation at the grocery story or online when they comment on an arts article, or in your database of past employees.  Are you making note and following up with a more personal invite?  Let me know what happens when you make this an audience development effort!


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The beginning of a tipping point for audience development?

I have to tell you, I am on fire with excitement from the National Innovation Summit for Arts & Culture.  I have been attending virtually (weird since I’m in the same area, but I digress) for the past few days, and the topics and speakers have been incredibly inspiring.

I am most excited about all the buzz and buzz words that are all about audience development.  Remember the four C’s of audience development?  Connection, Collaborations, Community, Care – they are being tossed around like a brand new frisbee during a holiday gathering.  Everyone seems to be catching this fever of passion for building relationships, listening to your community, becoming a part of your community, partnering with people in the community, being at the table for your city meetings, etc!!!

I have been advocating for this type of movement for about 7 years now.  It’s a new/old way of running an arts business.  It’s not about the numbers and the money, it’s about the relationships to build the people energy that you want and need to support the arts.

The case studies presented, although not complete in follow up information, have been extremely inspiring.  There are artists and arts organizations that are working with and for their communities to build a symbiotic relationship that benefits the whole.  This is what I have been advocating for.  It’s time to connect again, to become a part of our communities, to show we care, and to collaborate and build partnerships with new and interesting businesses, industries, people.

Could this be the beginning of a tipping point for audience development?  There was a comment yesterday “We are waiting for a Paradigm Shift to occur.”  I say, why wait?  You can be a part of creating this shift now!

The word “now” has been refreshing to hear.  The action that these artists and organizations are presenting is making my heart sing with joy.  I am happy that there is a sector that is finding that relevance to our communities is an extremely important philosophy to live by and use for strengthening the arts.  The, “we are all in this together” mentality can catapult the arts back into everyday awareness, which is what we desperately need right now.

So, again, I hope this is the beginning of the tipping point for audience development, because I have come to believe that audience development could very well be the tipping point for arts advocacy, the bringing the arts back into our mainstream thinking and living.  Wouldn’t that be delicious?


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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Collective voice for arts advocacy?

I have voiced this before – is it possible to find a way to have a bigger collective voice for arts advocacy rather than smaller private efforts? I think we all come from the same place of wanting the arts to be a part of our shared human culture, to be fully valued and funded. All across America I see so many separate efforts. Maybe as artists, it might not be possible to be collective since we mainly are unique individuals that enjoy creating. Perhaps all the smaller efforts will help the entire movement, or would it be better to find a way to build something bigger we can all be a part of? I know there are plenty of groups doing something in regard to advocacy. Who would champion a bigger effort? What would this effort look like? Or is it simply better to have people do their own efforts? What are your thoughts?


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What new services would you like to see from ADS (Audience Development Specialists)?

Can you spare a quick moment for a quick survey?  I could use your help.  Thank you and Terrific Tuesday to you!

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October 15, 2013 · 10:08 am

The disvalue of the arts…when did it occur?

Yes, it might be strange to hear from me over the weekend.  I had something on my mind I wanted to share.  I have come to the conclusion that we in the arts are attempting to solve a puzzle without the actual background knowledge needed to solve it.  We are fighting an uphill battle to have people value the arts again.  We have our talking points that have been proven over and over again, yet the majority doesn’t seem to be listening, or they have come to not care about the arts the way we do.

Has anyone stopped to consider when the breakdown actually occurred?  I liken this to using medicine for the symptoms instead of figuring out the root of the illness.  What is the root of disvalue for the arts?  When did it first take place? 

I recall research on the transition of the audience from the light into the dark.  Is this when it happened?  The invention of the light bulb increased the light for the artists yet put the audience into the dark. Is this what did us in? 

The arts used to be a “sports” of the time.  It was part of the Olympics once.  It was a main event in people’s lives in parts of history.  What made this all change?

The only thought that comes into my mind is that during the transition of the artist being in the light and the audience being in the dark, it might shed some light on the fact that we pushed our audiences away and disvalued them in the process.  What occurred during and after the transition: the entitlement for money (instead of the humble ask from our patrons), the ego of being better than the audience and choosing for them (instead of working with them), the refusal to engage instead of being engaging like we once were in our communities. Perhaps the light bulb changed the value of the arts due to all of these other changes that came with it. 

What really happened is, we disvalued our audiences during this transition.  We disvalued our audiences when we forgot to price for all types of people like we once did.  We disvalued our audiences when we told them to shut up and become secondary to our art.  We disvalued our audiences when we no longer asked for their feedback.  We disvalued our audiences when we no longer provided them with the customer service that they deserved.  We disvalued them as we went into the light and shut them out into the dark. 

Like all products and services though, when more competition comes into play, and technology changes our society and how people experience their lives, the value of the original product and service (the arts) can change.  The audiences with all the choices they have now , and the ability to use technology to speak their own mind and create their own arts, they have come out of the darkness into the light again. They now have an equal value that they haven’t had in a long time.

Yet, we in the arts industry failed to keep up with this change.  We instead attempted to treat the audiences like we always have, like they were in the dark, and the audiences have retaliated by disvaluing us. 

This doesn’t mean that we can’t get audiences to value the arts again, but it is going to take more than simply the talking points we have created to fight the dis-ease.  It is going to take valuing our audiences again, like we used to before the light bulb.

If you take a good look at the artists and organizations that are healthy and thriving, you will see that this is what they are doing.  The audiences are a part of the picture, not simply told to look at the picture.

This is why audience development is probably the most crucial tool that we have at this time.  Getting the audiences involved again in every aspect of our arts, knowing that they deserve to be in the light as much as we do, this just might be the answer to the puzzle. 

I once read a statement – “The arts are not meant for everyone, but they are meant for anyone.”   I now add, this was our doing, yet we can make the arts meant for everyone again if we can learn to share the light. 



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