Category Archives: Arts

Whose fault is it if there is no audience?

Happy Friday to you and happy first day of November.  I hope you had a fun Halloween.  I ended up dressing in my devil horns and going to our local Mexican restaurant that we love.  They were all dressed in costumes to the nines!  It was a fun evening.

Yesterday, I also had a conversation with a visual artist and an email from a storyteller.  The visual artist has published books about marketing art, yet despite blogging and putting some links online, he is not getting much of an audience (yes, I see the irony too).  He mentioned that he did go with a publisher, but they are not doing much for him.

The storyteller had a gig on Halloween at a local library.  It was a cold, wet, windy night, and no one showed up for the event. She ended up doing her stories for 3 librarians since she was already contracted.

So, in these two scenarios, whose fault is it that they didn’t have an audience, or a bigger audience?  You can blame the publisher and the library.  Right?  They were supposed to do the marketing for you, especially if it is a part of your contract with them.  You can blame the weather, although if it is cold, wet and windy, an inside gig would be a good thing, and it was free to the public.

I hope you don’t get too ruffled, but it is also the artists’ fault.  In this day and age, you can’t rely on someone else to do the work of audience building for you.  They simply do not care as much as you, even if they are being paid.  You are the one that wants an audience.  An audience or bigger audience will help them, but you are the one that really, really wants that audience!

Many individual artists mention that they don’t have the time.  However, I see many artists on social media networks just as much as the next person.  They also say they don’t think doing it on their own would work, yet they could build a team of people to support their efforts in spreading the word, just like anybody else.  I also hear they don’t have the money to hire someone to help them with audience development work.  I found out that a few resourceful artists have built a team of interns to help them get done what they need to do.  I do want to point out that some of these artists are paying for marketing ads and other services (such as online galleries that claim they will help sell your art).  If those avenues are not working for you, why not use those monetary resources for someone to help you with audience development instead?

The main point is, individual artists can build a team of support to do audience development, and for good effective audience development, you need a team.  And again, artists can reallocate the funds that they do have to be earmarked instead for audience development help.

No wonder the efforts of the publisher and library may have fallen flat. They most certainly didn’t have you 100% on their team, and you are needed as the number one team member.

Here’s what I am thinking.  When there is a will, there is a way.  And, whatever you focus on is what is going to happen.  If you focus on blaming the other person for not building you an audience, you are going to get more of this.  If you focus on figuring out ways within your means (and you do have means) to help build your audience, you will get an audience.  You, despite wanting to give this work to someone else, do need to be a big part of the team.

So decide what you really want to have happen and go for it.  The blame game will not get you an audience, but action on your part will.

Thoughts?  Cheers? Tomatoes? 

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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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:

Visit our YouTube Channel!

-Shoshana

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Apathy will not help audience development

I hope you had a nice weekend!  I ended up participating in the Open Studios tour and scored some really great gifts for myself and my family.  One of the artists said to me, “I’m so grateful when people like you will come and pay for art right away.”  I know it sometimes takes time to decide on purchasing a piece of art, however, I think artists these days are seeing more lookers instead of buyers.  Even the people that like art are not valuing art enough to buy from artists.  Buying a print at a big box store is not going to help your local artist.  This story brings me to my main objective:

ap·a·thy (from Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

noun \ˈa-pə-thē\

: the feeling of not having much emotion or interest : an apathetic state

 Full Definition of APATHY
1
:  lack of feeling or emotion :  impassiveness
2
:  lack of interest or concern:indifference
I think people still feel something for the arts.  The reason we are having such a challenging time is the number two definition of lack of interest or concern.


Apathy is becoming a concern for a slew of social issues, not just the arts.  People are not speaking up and spreading the word about what they care about.  Consider the U.S. government shutdown.  If the majority of Americans wanted healthcare, why have we allowed the minority to shutdown the government?


I had mentioned before how a small percentage of arts folks wrote to Congress regarding the NEA cuts that were on the table.  If we want the arts to thrive, instead of merely survive, we are going to have to address this apathy.


Not having time is an excuse.  With social media’s ability to share something within seconds, that is no longer a factor.  Writing a letter to the editor does take time, but writing a quick email does not.  Technology has made it easy to speak your mind and share information that will advocate for the arts.  Why are the #arts not trending on Twitter?  Why isn’t #artsadvoc?  Mainly due to apathy.


I will say that apathy may not be preconceived.  I don’t think people set out to be apathetic when it comes to the arts.  We simply are going about our lives.  For any issue that matters, it will take people to come out of this state of mind, this state of not minding.


I hear so many complaints.  Not enough funding.  People not understanding the value of the arts.  The fact that grantors continue to ask us to prove ourselves.  Well, we might have created this for ourselves do to our apathetic state.  If we had continued to promote, advocate, spread the word, speak our minds about the arts, we probably would not have such a big uphill battle to deal with now.


We talk about how challenging it is, yet, I am not seeing enough action.  The other “A” word, “action,” is what will get rid of apathy.  It will only work if the majority decides to take action.


Again, a quick, short list of what you can do:
  1. Retweet arts education, arts advocacy and arts news that matters.
  2. Share pro-arts stories on Facebook and other social media outlets.
  3. Send a quick email to your favorite media outlets.
  4. Tweet at your congress representatives about the arts.
  5. Buy from artists you know (or local artists) instead of big box for gifts.
  6. Join arts advocacy organizations like Americans for the Arts and add your voice during calls for action!
  7. Sign up and go to local business of arts workshops.
  8. Become more involved with your arts council or alliance.
  9. Wear arts gear to start conversations with people.
  10. Be a verb!

We can get the arts trending again.  We can put to bed this apathetic state.  It will take a big wave of action.  The bigger picture is worth working on.  It will make the smaller day to day a great deal easier.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Ideas?

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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“People don’t come because they don’t care.”

An article hit me in the face this morning.  Wham!

Arts: Misreading the declining audience problem

I needed it too.  Despite all the attempts to change the experiences to fit new audiences’ preferences, we do have an underlying problem that we should be focusing on.  Here are a few quotes from this article:

With the turning of the calendar now to September, orchestras and opera companies begin their new seasons and a simmering anxiety about declining audiences bedevils executives and their boards.

Inevitably some organizations act on the widespread but generally erroneous assumption that people don’t attend orchestra concerts because of the formalities of the concert hall, the ways in which patrons dress or behave or because the concert experience itself isn’t “diverse” enough.

Change of attitude

It’s not, however, the experience of attending an orchestra concert that needs modification, as if encouraging patrons to cheer and whistle between the movements of a symphony is all that’s needed for sell-outs. Rather, it’s the public attitude toward orchestral music that needs to be cultivated.

The decline comes not from the formalities of the concert hall experience, but from the erosion of the idea that classical music is worth knowing. People don’t come because they don’t care.

…It will require much more [than pop cross-overs and informal dress and presentation]. It will take a strong conviction that the effort is worth it and the courage to explain the ways in which orchestral music is more richly rewarding than some other musical forms. Such conviction however, is increasingly difficult in today’s egalitarian culture that insists all art forms are of equal value.

Absent that conviction, only the music that’s most aggressively and shamelessly marketed will get into the ears of children. And then not only orchestras will be the losers.

The article sites two instances of audience development efforts being executed successfully to outreach and connect with potential, new audience members.

The underlying issue is that people do not have the benchmark arts as part of their everyday lives anymore, and this is why they don’t care about us.  In order to get people to care, we need to care about taking the time and effort to outreach and show them why our arts matter, and why the arts would matter to them personally.

I have always felt that shifting the experiences and experimenting with new presentations can be used as a gateway to an art form.  As mentioned before, it could be time to evolve in several ways since our world is changing.  I do agree though that informal this and that may not do the trick if the underlying problem of apathy is still there.

This is one of the many reasons why audience development is crucial for today.  It’s not about the spin, it’s about getting people to care again, to realize that the arts can open them to a knew way of thinking and feeling.  It’s about the good stuff of why we are artists in the first place.  Sharing what really matters and outreaching to people that are ripe for this sharing is the way to go.

It’s about getting to know people again, building relationships, and sharing what truly matters, the arts!  So, although I feel it is time to experiment and potentially find some new rhythms of producing arts, it is more crucially important to reach and connect with people again.  This will make all the difference in the world because these efforts will bring care back into the equation.  We certainly want people to care about the arts again.  Right?

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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Our arts begin to end

Ourlives

Today is the 5oth anniversary of the famous Martin Luther King, Jr. speech, “I have a dream...”  One of the quotes that is being distributed is “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  This quote literally woke me up this morning, well, enough for me to begin writing to you.  I feel this quote matters to me personally. Lately, I can’t seem to get myself started.  After a week off, and considering just fading into the woodwork, my work of bringing awareness for change to an audience development mentality keeps getting harder and harder.

Don’t worry, this blog is not going to be a big complain fest.  I am through with that type of festival.  However, I will say that getting people to take action, discuss, and congregate for arts advocacy is a big challenge.

When I saw this quote, it rang true for the translation for the arts.  Our arts begin to end the day we become silent.  The fact that we have to justify how valuable the arts are means to me that we have been silent far too long.

Right now, people are going about their arts businesses mainly focusing on what they need to get done in the moment to keep going.  The vision isn’t extending much past this day to day business.  There hasn’t been enough thought that if we collectively were giving some time to a bigger movement that the day to day may not be so challenging and get easier.

I often think of this line of thought in terms of using audience development.  If more people were to shift to audience development, there would be bigger audiences and more support for the arts already.  Yet, I digress.

When there was a cry out for supporting the arts during the time the NEA budget was on the chopping block, again, this time for 49% of slashing, only around 2,800 ( I think that was the number) people responded through Americans for the Arts.  There are 313.9 million people (2012 figure), in the U.S.A. today.  You can do the math to come up with a really low percentage of people that were not silent.

I feel like we keep wishing for someone else to save us.  In reality, we need to save ourselves.  Our arts begin to end, unless we collectively have a voice.

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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ADS News

Happy Friday – we made it! It’s been a crazy week.  Today, I would like to catch you up to speed on what is happening behind the ADS scenes:

  • We are working on a new website with Rosebrook Classical, and it is coming along nicely!
  • I received a Getty Images unauthorized use notice letter.  I sent them an email explaining the image came from an RSS Feed I had on the site.  I have yet to hear back from them.  More soon.
  • I presented for the Boulder County Arts Alliance, and it was so well received, I made a recorded webinar for the Top 20 Tips for Increasing Everything portion. It’s only $5.
    Here is my YouTube invitation: http://youtu.be/VY9lrSZQj3w
    To register and view the presentation: http://bit.ly/ADStips
  • My book is 20% off right now!

    Coupon code: ARDENS20

    One use per account. Offer expires Aug 9 at 11:59 PM. Cannot be combined with other offers, not valid on paid services.

    Head to: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/audiencedevelopmentspecialists

  • Top Blog posts this week were:
  1. Be the change you want to see
  2. The uncomfortableness of old and new side by side?
  3. Non-traditional fundraising ideas for audience development

I’m thinking about new ways I can create content and value for you.  If you have any suggestions, please do feel free to share. Thank you all, and enjoy your 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

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2 ways to skin a cat, but please don’t skin a cat!

There seems to be a rumbling about arts marketing lately.  There are people that believe that artists and arts organizations need to step up their game or hire someone else that has more experience.

Here is the latest of the rumblings:

Cincinnati Art Museum makes cuts

The Cincinnati Art Museum recently eliminated its design team, instead opting to use a Cincinnati marketing and design company to complete its projects.

Yes, this is one way to change and step up in the game of arts marketing, that is if the company that is hired is truly a player.  However, there is another way that will allow arts folks to keep their jobs.  It’s called education!

There are many ways an arts administrator, arts marketer, etc., can obtain education.  I see a variety of workshops, classes, and seminars that are being offered to get you started.  I also know of some fantastic consultants (wink) that can teach you how to build your audiences and market more effectively.

It saddens me that the people that are truly dedicated to the arts are being cut in favor of bigger corporate companies that are paid well to get the job done.  Except in cases where the employee is a complete yahoo, there seems to be a disconnect between wanting results and being loyal to the people that you employ.  You can have both.

Wouldn’t it be better if education was supplied to help these dedicated individuals flourish and get them up to speed instead of skinning a bunch of cats in favor of spending more money with a big corporate firm?

You may get results going with those big corporate firms, yet you might be hurting our industry by not investing those dollars in the people that care more about the arts in the first place.  Remember, these are the people that took the jobs despite the decreased nonprofit salaries.

You would also be helping all the educators, consultants and arts agencies that are supplying this form of education.  It’s time to start helping the people in our own industry to get the results we want.  Wouldn’t it be best to support our own while we help ourselves?

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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Be the change you want to see

Change2

As some of you may know, I am in the midst of a legal challenge with Getty Images.  I will write more about this in the future, since the knowledge will help others.

Today though, I have been thinking about all the support requests I receive.  There are so many crowd-fundraisers happening and so many requests to spread the word for an event, that I am starting to have my head spin.  Maybe I need an exorcist, but what I really would love to see happen is more collaborative efforts for helping each other out.

If you want more support for your art projects, it would be good if you helped others as well.  Here is a list of easy things you can do to be the change you want to see:

  • I follow a give 10% away rule for events and personal donations.  I feel it is good karma, and you become part of the community with this effort.
  • Help spread the word of other peoples’ events.  This will show the other people that you are a team player in your community!
  • Buy another artist’s art or go see a show that is not put on by your organization.  We all need audiences.  Being a part of their community will likely see a return that they will become one of yours.
  • Purchase books, webinars, and other educational resources from your respected consultants.  The consultants are here to lend everyone a hand, but will only remain helpful and in business if you help them too.
  • Donate to other art projects when you can.  I understand budgets are tight, but again, being the change and distributing the change you want to see will come back to you.
  • Be part of an arts solution team for your community.  If you want the community to help the artists, the artists can continue to be creative in helping the community.  They will sit up and take notice!

All of us need support.  In a world where more individuals are clamoring for attention and support, this being the change you want to see happen to you can cut through all the noise and make a huge difference!

If you have any other ideas, please feel free to post in the reply section for all to see.

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 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

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 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

3 Comments

Filed under Arts, arts management, Audience Development