Category Archives: arts marketing

Rebooting and gifting

I have been reading a book by Catherine Allen called Reboot Your Life.  Apparently, I am not taking time off the right way.  She suggests that we go through 4 phases in order to guarantee we gain from our sabbatical.  Here are the 4 phases:

Phase 1: Clearing out – Take time to clean your life from all the physical, mental and emotional clutter that has accumulated over the years.

Phase 2: Reconnecting – Reconnect with yourself and others to discover who you are at this moment in time.

Phase 3: Exploring – Take time to research and explore all the different possibilities for your next chapter in life.

Phase 4: Re-entering – This is the transition phase back into the mainstream.  Tasks like sprucing up your resume and focusing, planning your next goal to make it happen.

I have been officially off since April 13th.  In this time, I went from phase 1 to phase 2 and 3 and back again to phase 1 instead of allowing myself to naturally go through each phase.  I think I have flunked out of sabbatical school!  Seriously though, it has been challenging for me to let go in order to have the time needed to recharge and regroup.  I still feel a little burnt out despite my one month off, and probably because I’m not allowing enough time off before getting back to it.

Right now I am researching and exploring other business options, but after a conversation with my new friend, Ron Evans, I think I may need to start researching for what is going to make me happy and fulfilled.  I have been getting this piece of advice in different forms.  “Think of yourself first this time.” or “Think about what you want to have happen to make yourself happy.”  The advice is all coming from a place I am not very familiar with.  Most of my life has been spent helping others achieve their goals.  Taking time to explore what I want and need?  Well, easier said than done, but well worth shifting to this way of thinking if I can.

So, yes, this month I have discovered that I am a little out of balance at the moment.  There has been too much giving and not enough receiving.  The good news is that I have been working on the receiving part of the equation through a strangely, oddly, never would have thought about it exercise.  I have been reading the book 29 Gifts by Cami Walker and started my own round of giving for 29 Days.  For someone who naturally gives, I don’t have a problem with coming up with gifts.  Often, I can simply record what I already do during my normal days.  What this exercise is doing for me, it is making me focus on my gifts to acknowledge that what I give is a gift.  It is also teaching me gift giving boundaries.

GiftFlowersThe book mentions that the Universe will provide and you will start receiving during this process.  I can happily say that I have been receiving in weird and wonderful ways.  Gifts of advice from others have popped into my life.  We received a free dumping fee at the waste disposal depot since they forgot to weigh us at the initial weighing station (should have just said it was a free dump which I happily yelled during the fact, “We got a free dump!”).  I was gifted a free plant at my favorite garden nursery.  I also am realizing how much giving my friends and family naturally do too. I can’t wait to see what is in store for the rest of the month.  I am half way through this round.

What this all comes down to, after giving myself to the arts my entire life, maybe I need to focus on the arts giving back to me and take time to recharge through my own artistic goals and plans as well as partaking in arts events without any work objective.

I sometimes write about how we get hung up on the negatives and forget how lucky we are to have all the positives in our lives.  One post in particular comes to mind about losing and gaining our passion.  We can all stand to enjoy ourselves more and focus on the positives in our lives by stepping back and giving ourselves time to recharge, rethink and to find our current passions.

The one decision I have confirmed is I no longer want to be a consultant in the same sense as before.  This means that ADS will be different or replaced by another business, job, or path.  As I mentioned to Ron in my conversation, I will always be an advocate for the arts, but I now know that I have to be more of an advocate for myself.

Time off will continue with spotty posts for a little while longer.  I’m allowing everything to unfold in due time.  Thanks for listening, and I know you, dear reader, are a gift as well.

Shoshana

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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

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

Copy and pasting for arts audience development???

I hope you had a nice weekend!  I found this weekend to have a common theme that I wanted to share with you.  The concept of copy and paste and how it is affecting our artistry, audience development, and the future of arts administration.

I started off the weekend reading The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamine Zander.  I am about 2/3 into this book, and it offers a fresh perspective on how to relate to people with a broader mind and more creative agenda.  It starts out with an example of 9 dots in a box formation, and you are asked to connect all the dots in one line (without lifting your pen/pencil).  The solution is not forthcoming if you confine yourself to this box.  You have to go beyond the borders in order to accomplish the task, and the line (spoiler alert) does not form a box in the end, but a triangle.

I also went out to dinner to celebrate a friend’s birthday.  She is a professor at our local university.  She was mentioning the challenge of presenting her work without using a PowerPoint presentation and instead relaying the information in a more visual way.  She is a believer that her students will learn more with this visual aspect, that they will absorb more by really listening and paying attention.  She received complaints on her feedback from the students.  60% wanted her to go back to her typical PowerPoint.  They wanted everything point by point.  They wanted the .pdf of the presentation. They do not want to “waste time” listening and attempting to create the lesson in their own words.  They are afraid of missing what will be on future tests.

We had a big discussion about how education is becoming a copy and paste function instead of a creative learning process.  With all the standardized testing formats, the PowerPoint bullet presentations, there is no outlet for students to take a concept and run with it.  Instead, they feel uncomfortable going beyond the box and would rather copy and paste the content to get the grade.  Getting the grade and graduating is the objective, not learning and creating for themselves.

If graduate level education has resorted to this copy and paste mentality, we are certainly heading toward a slippery down slope for propagating the next generation of creative minds. This also will most certainly present problems for the up and coming arts administrators in our future.  We are already starting to see the Arts, in terms of audience development and marketing, falling into this same copy and paste mode, despite the fact that we are the creatives in our world.

There are still a few among us that are generating new content and new ways of outreaching to our audiences, but I see a great deal of “buzz words” and “buzz programs” being copied and pasted.  Despite the original idea being sound, this will not increase our audiences because one size does not fit all.  You can take a program from one area, and it may not work when recreating this same program for another area.  Copying and pasting will not work for us.  We all have different audiences, unique people that are attending our events.  We need to get beyond the copy and paste mentality to create our own specific programs in order to build our individual audiences.

To me, this is a slightly worse scenario than the templates I had mentioned before.  At least with a template, you can tweak it a bit to fit your own needs.  With copy and paste, there is no individuality at all.  Our audiences are being subjected to another audiences’ ideal, not their own.

So, yes, I am concerned about the future of arts and education if the copy and paste mentality becomes the norm.  The only way we can get out of this box is if the arts leaders of today start creating outside of this box themselves.  I do hope that they will!

Thoughts?

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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“Free” for arts audience development

Leave it to Seth Godin to send a whammy to my inbox this morning.  It was a real doozy for me since it hit too close to home for comfort.  As you know, dear reader, I have been contemplating how to get myself to the next level for some time now. I know what I do helps the common good.  I am fairly loud in pushing the audience development goodness forward. I absolutely love and believe in what I am doing, yet it has been challenging, especially when people want my services for free.  I know I am not the only one that feels this way.

I see it all the time in the “gigs” section of the job listings.  “We need an artist, band, graphic designer, insert other artist title here, in exchange for some publicity and food (well, maybe food if you’re lucky).  I hear artists grumbling about not getting fair pay for all the hard work that they are doing.  I discussed this with a photographer friend who always used the phrase, “you have to pay to play” in order to get his photography business off the ground, and he is one of the most talented photographers I have come across for his particular niche. He certainly deserved to be paid for those photos at that level of quality. They got his talent for free.

Free can be good and lead you to a better place, but sometimes free ends up being a vicious cycle that is difficult to get out of.

Is free really “free?”  Or, are we going in a negative direction?   Godin asks us to weigh the benefits against the free.  If it is worth it and will advance your career, help build your audiences, then by all means, take the free opportunity.  If free is selling yourself short and not adding to a positive outcome, stop and step away from the free.

I have many free services that I do for the public.  I blog, distribute articles, leave tip of the day and mini-podcast audio clips, give free talks/seminars/webinars at times, etc.  I absolutely love what I am doing.  The free is adding up though, and every time someone asks me “can I pick your brain?” a little piece of my dream of making a living doing what I enjoy dies.

In the meantime, I have seen nonprofit arts organizations and agencies with more resources go under.  It didn’t make sense to keep going when they weren’t able to pay their employees or foot their bills.

There are more people clamoring for the spotlight, more people starting new businesses hoping to make the big time.  In the five years I have been trucking along, I have seen consultants come and go depending on whether they land a full time job instead.  Meanwhile, I’ve been in it for the longer haul.  I have continued to take the free opportunities to put myself out there.

However, if I don’t do somethings for free, I may not be working at all.  I can recall certain gurus of our time going beyond and saying not to be stingy with your gifts and giving freely of yourself will reap positive benefits for all.  When I come across this line of thinking, I end up asking myself – maybe I am not doing enough for free?

I would love your thoughts on this one. As you can see, there is a back and forth in my mind about all this free business.   There must be a way for talented artists like you and me to make money from our businesses instead of dealing with too many free-doms.  So I ask you –   When does free start costing more than it’s worth?  How far should a small business entrepreneur go down the free path before it just doesn’t make sense any more?

In the end, as artists with valuable talents and gifts, we do need to ask ourselves these questions.  Putting in sweat equity makes sense, yet bleeding yourself dry really doesn’t.

To end on a positive note, I want to thank all the people that have paid for my services, donated money, bought my book, or offered me some well needed friendly advice.  I am so grateful for the people that valued what I do and want to see me succeed as well!  Without you, I would not be hopeful enough to keep going.  Huge thanks to you!
Please let me know your thoughts.

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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Add a splash of Energy and Passion for arts audience development!

Your mini-podcast for the week!  If you are an email subscriber, you will need to click on the link to take you to the web blog post.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana :O)

 

 

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The balancing act of artist vs audience development

Prayforthedonkey

Pray for the Donkey by Gerda Rovetch

Today I recognize how balance is an important undertaking.  If you feel off balance, it doesn’t feel very good.  Balancing budgets are necessary for grants.  Balance is crucial for dance.  I could go on and on.  What I am thinking about right now is the balance between artist and audience development (arts marketing in general).

I have read a few blog posts recently (and have written a few in the past) about the necessity of keeping your audience in mind in all aspects of creating art and promoting art.  What do your audiences want?  How are you reaching your audiences in ways they want to be reached?  Are you speaking your audiences’ language?  Etc.

There is a point, however, that we might be taking this level of engagement with our audiences a bit too far.  When our art simply becomes a template of what the audience says it wants (mainly based on historical perspectives – do you really know your current audiences?), we can lose our artistic edge, and the audience will lose out on being challenged.

Please do not misunderstand.  I am still a big advocate for working with your audiences and getting to know their wants and needs to help you to create art that will be relevant to them. Having your audiences as partners and getting them fully entrusted in you and your art work is extremely important.

What I am thinking out loud in this moment is the fact that you can take audience information and then stretch past their boundaries too.  It is part of our duty as artists, right?

In many of the survey reports I have been scanning through again, one of the biggest reasons people go to arts events is to be challenged, to experience something new.  If all we provide is a template of what we think they want and present in ways they say they want, we might be doing them a disservice.   Yes, audiences say they want A, but in fact they may want AB or AC, something that gives them A, but pushes them slowly toward Z.  I hope this is starting to make a little sense.

As mentioned in a past post, the arts are a living, breathing, organism.  For us to continue to work by a template is choking the living daylights out of art.  For us not to program new and exciting developments to challenge our audiences is showing severe consequences.  New audiences rather not be boxed into old templates and older audiences, even though they say they are comfortable with templates are also showing up less due to boredom of the same old programs.

It has been discussed as a delicate balancing act.  The integrity of the artist vs. what the audiences want.  Yet I don’t think we have to continue to view it this way.  We can allow ourselves to be creative again in consultation with our audiences.  We can reach them in ways they desire to be reached and then stretch both ourselves and our audiences to a new reaching point.  This will allow both us and our audiences to grow, end the cycle of templates and of stifling ourselves as artists.

So consider your audiences in all that you do, and also consider how you can take them to newer artistic heights.  I am sure your audiences will be very thankful to you.

Thoughts?

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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The changing face of classical music for arts audience development

Inspired by the article, The changing face of opera, posted in the Oxford University Press’ blog by Meghann Wilhoite, I give you my first mini-podcast for 2013.

Have a great weekend!

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

Although we are not a non-profit, if you would like to support ADS to continue our work, you can donate here.

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

My eBook

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Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development