Tag Archives: 4 C’s

A sick cat and audience development for the arts

CharliSome of you may know that one of my cats is very ill.  I have been back and forth to the vet many times in the past two weeks.  Both me and my cat are tired of the whole thing.  During the process, I realized that I am incorporating much of the advice I give to my clients for the 4th C of audience development, or the Care element of their plans.

  • I want to make my cat as comfortable as possible during this time.  I put an extra special soft blanket in her carrier to make the travels a little bit better for her.
    What are you doing to make your patrons more comfortable during their experience with you?
  • Her problem right now is not being able to keep food down. I am buying medicines and foods to help calm her stomach.
    What changes are you making to solve any problems your patrons are “ailing” from?
  • At the vet she sat in the corner, tired from the entire ordeal.  Today, I am “hearing” that she needs a little bit of time before another round of medications begin.
    Are you listening to what your audiences prefer?  What are you doing to accommodate their schedule, their needs? 
  • I was rewarded this morning when she began to eat a good breakfast.  After weeks of not being able to keep her food down, she seems to be doing a little better.  She purred when I pet her too.
    Caring for your audiences will have their rewards.  They will want to give back if you cater and care for them. 
  • I know that I will have to make decisions that will benefit her even if she doesn’t take to it from the start.  What makes this easier is her trust in me.
    If you care for your audiences, over time, they will start to trust your judgement even if they don’t completely agree with you. 
  • My cat has been with me for 14 years.  I couldn’t imagine my life without her.
    Just like a relationship with a pet, your relationships with your audiences can be loyal and long lasting if you keep caring for them throughout the relationship. 

Which brings me to the moral of this little cat tale (and tail).  If you care for your audiences through every experience with them, they will become happy and loyal audience members.  They will want to support you since they now know that you care for them too.  In the end, you can’t imagine your life without an audience, and when you care enough, they will not be able to imagine a life without you and your art.

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

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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Quick observation – Top 10 list of how to manage a successful arts organization

I have been reading several articles about arts organizations that are finishing in the black.  They have these top 10 management directives in common:

1. Their budgets are not overly extravagant.  They are making sure to cover costs and attempt to build a surplus.

2. They are investing in endowments.  All of the articles that I have viewed state that the organization has an endowment and that they attempt to add to this endowment each year.

3. They fundraise constantly and use audience development techniques to convert single buyers and donors into frequent buyers and donors.

4. There is a team of people working together to promote their events, raise the money they need, and to build relationships in their community.  They provide the energy to get this important work done!

5. They are using the 4 C’s of audience development.  They connect with people, become a part of their communities, they collaborate, and they show they care about their audiences.

6. They have an outreach plan and programs.  They get out of their boxes and share with their communities.

7. They have a strong volunteer program and work with volunteers to cut costs for what they need to get done.

8.  They are frugal where they can be – they turn off the lights and don’t overspend on supplies.

9. There is a good relationship between artists and administration/boards.

10. They produce quality art for their potential and existing audiences.

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

New eBook! The How of Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

Leave a comment

Filed under Arts, arts management, Audience Development, Fundraising, Volunteer Management

Good team arts management and audience development can turn it around

I remember going through one round of union negotiations that was as nail biting as the ones I am seeing in the news about the Atlanta Symphony.  We didn’t know if we would be able to have a full season.  Cuts were on the table.  And, this was during the season, not before it, so even more crucial that decisions be made.

I watched as the decisions to shut down the office for two weeks, to have a pay cut for the staff for a month, to scale back a full orchestra concert to a chamber concert, and to issue cuts to musicians’ pay were enacted.  I didn’t feel this was the right answer at the time, but at the time, it really was an emergency.  How did the orchestra get to this point?

In a polite way, it takes good team arts management to run an orchestra.  Good team arts management consists of everyone thinking about the delicate balance of revenue and expenses at all times, and not letting either side cave in.  Here’s the funny part about arts management of old. It is not a team mentality and instead it is run by groups of separate minds.

The revenue is comprised of money from the music or the product (and people believing in the product to invest donations).  This product is made by the orchestral employees of the business.  The employees rarely have a say in the product, with the exception of the music/artistic director.  The product of live music isn’t something manufactured and then placed on a shelf to sell.  The musicians have to create the product time and time again in a live fashion.  Without the musicians, you would not have a product!

The staff and board are responsible for obtaining extra revenue to keep the budget in balance and for selling the product.  The board and executive staff are responsible for the overall budget, expenses and revenue.   The musicians do not really have a hand in this side of the business, although they may have opinions that might be voiced in the form of an orchestral committee.

If the orchestra does not balance their expenses and revenues, they will be in big trouble, which is what we are seeing these days in the news.  Running an orchestra is costly.  Obtaining funds for an orchestra year after year can feel like a monumental task. The solution that the boards and executive staffs seem to  implement every time when times are tough is to start making cuts to the staff, the music and the musicians.  This means they are cutting into their product and making cuts to the people that can sell the product.  This does not make sense to me. I never see a company in trouble actually cut their product in half and place it back on the shelf to sell.  The marketing team would need to spin how fantastic the half of a product is while the consumers know full well they are getting half a product which is not valued as much.  Since it is likely that cuts are made to marketing/development/box office during this phase, it is less likely the orchestra will have a solid staff to carry out this impossible task anyway.

I do hear of talks about looking into raising more money.  However, it is rare when I see the boards and the executive staffs step up enough to make good on their words.

All of the above leaves the audiences feeling sad, angry, not very secure about their orchestra and how they handle their monetary support.  Many of the audience members will side with the musicians since they know that it takes musicians to create the enjoyable night they are paying to see.  The audiences will be less likely to want to donate or volunteer when it gets to this point.

So, who can fix these messes?  Everyone.

1.  The board and executive staff need to step up and secure donations, sponsorships, and stronger leadership. This means that they need to acknowledge that they may need extra help to get them out of this mess.

2. The executive staff needs to allocate some of the budget for audience development programs.  Audience development programs can create more audience and more donors and volunteers.  This also means having the money for outreach events and for paying the musicians for these events.  If there is no money to allocate (usually there is, but for devils advocate sake), the musicians would be wise to volunteer for a round of these outreach concerts until money will be set aside for their pay in the future.

3. Everyone needs to start connecting with people again and becoming part of the community.  More collaborations need to be made at this time.  More implementing of programs that show you care about your audience through this tough phase is crucial.

4. Everyone needs to start connecting with each other in order to run the business properly.  Since the musicians create the product, maybe they should have a little more say in this part of the  equation.  Since the board and staff are responsible for the budgets and for selling the organization and product, the musicians need to listen to them as well.  Everyone in a non-profit needs to step up, donate and volunteer at some point.  It takes a team to make a non-profit business successful.

5. If cuts are being made to musicians and staff pay, cuts should also be made to executive pay.  If you do not act as a team during this phase, people will simply remain resentful. Everyone should take the hit.  In our age of easy transparency, if someone catches wind that the executive staff is not taking any cuts, it will look bad for the organization.

6. The board needs to be responsible for the overall health of the organization.  If the organization isn’t healthy, then you need a different board or different board dynamic.  The challenge is that the board is in charge of themselves (similar to how our congress runs in America).  It will take a mighty strong leader to start implementing board evaluations and making changes that are necessary to get the board functioning properly again.

7. The organization needs to realize that every component is important for running an arts organization.  Cutting off one part will hurt the whole, which is why we see some of these organizations going into bankruptcy and closing their doors.  Until everyone works together and does their job to correct the imbalances, the organization will not be able to turn around.

8. The audiences need to learn that ticket prices only pay for 30-40% of the costs of the orchestra.  Audiences, if they want the orchestra to succeed, could volunteer their time to help bring others to the orchestra and donate monetary support above the cost of the tickets to increase the revenue stream.  However, audience development programs need to be ready and in place, and audiences need to be invited to participate and get more involved.  These programs will be seen as positive energy and will show that the orchestra is working toward a positive direction.

9.  In fact, everyone that is part of the organization should be responsible for “selling.”  Everyone can be an ambassador for the organization and  invite people to attend the various events.  Everyone can be more involved with connecting, collaborating, caring and becoming a part of the community on behalf of the orchestra.  The main problem with these old fashioned non-profits is all the “it’s not my job” that has been established.  A new team mentality needs to be born instead.

I have likened the bigger arts organization to a Titanic.  If something goes wrong, it will take different actions, not remaining the course, to turn the big ship around.  If you remain the course, your ship will hit the iceberg, and things will start sinking.

The audience of your product is also the audience of your business.  They will be the ones watching your ship sink.  Wouldn’t you rather have them watching and enjoying the music?

It takes a team to create an orchestra arts organization, and it will take a team to run it successfully as well. Everyone can roll up their sleeves and get to work to create a healthier organization.  Functioning as a team is good arts management and using audience development for a solution is too.

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

New eBook! The How of Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

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How to live an audience development for the arts life…

Happy Friday to all!  Today I have been thinking about the philosophy behind audience development, which is living a life of the 4 C’s: connecting with people, being a part of your community, collaborating with others, and showing you care about people.

You never know where people are going to be in the future.  The waiter that messed up accidentally while serving your order, the one that you yelled at in a fire alarm fashion, could be your boss in the future.  The driver that you curse at on the road could be a potential donor that you meet later down the road.  The customer that you snub during a busy time since they are not one of the top patrons (your rationale) could win the lottery next week.  Do you want to build good relationships or bad relationships?

Again, you never know where people are going to be in the future.  Circumstances change.  This means that applying the Golden Rule and being kind to all people could benefit you further down the line.  Also, if you do not act kindly, you are leaving a bad taste in someone’s mind which could haunt you later on. Let me give you another example.

Some of you may know that I am applying for a PT job to attempt to stay afloat.  I had applied for 3 promising jobs in the past month.  All three of these organizations are non-profits in our area.  Only one of these jobs has notified me about their final decision.  The one that notified me, I did not personally interview for the position.  In her email, she mentioned that 50 people had applied for the position.  She took the time to send a message to the other 49 people they did not select.  I actually emailed her a thank you since this is a rare thing to do these days.  I appreciated her taking the time to treat me like a fellow human that took time out of my life to apply for the position.  You bet that I will continue to rave about this non-profit organization!

The other 2 organizations, the ones I actually interviewed in person, I am still waiting for a reply, even after I had emailed them a thank you and a follow up email asking for an update on the positions.  I do feel this is a bad practice in terms of business relations and future audience development.  I may not have such a great opinion after being snubbed in this fashion.  I don’t think any non-profit can afford to create bad relations, then why are they doing so in this case?

Yes, perhaps I am feeling a little personal about this situation, but there is a grain of salt behind the story.  You see, I could have been a supporter to these organizations, regardless of whether or not I landed the job, but due to being ignored and unappreciated, I’m not feeling supportive feelings.

What you do today, how you care and support others in your life has an impact.  If you ignore, snub, or make people feel bad, that might be what you receive back in the future.  You could be supporting or hurting a future audience member, a donor or sponsor, or a volunteer or potential board member.  The choice is yours.

On the plus side, I received a hand written thank you note from an organization I volunteer and fundraise for.  They took the time to care and be supportive to me by thanking me personally.  Now that is how to live an audience development for the arts life!

What do you think?

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.

My eBook

New eBook!  The How of  Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

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Filed under Arts, arts management, Audience Development

Random thoughts on current events: audience development for the arts

Our next guest blog will be next Wednesday.  Today I have a few random thoughts due to current events this week.  This week we have seen the GM over at the Metropolitan Opera hiss at another review outlet, we have seen a major consultant for our industry disregard the rule of confidentiality when posting on Huffington Post, and there have been some wonderful audience development ideas floating around the country that were implemented.

  1. The Met reverses policy, will allow Opera News to review productions http://t.co/yn6TiJgf

Wow!  Talk about elitism at its worst.  “Allow” to review?  The GM has an issue with less than positive reviews, so he decides to axe a critic’s right to review if they do not meet his standards.  This is a poor choice of arts management on so many levels.  We need more journalism, not less for one.  If journalists continue to feel the wrath for simply doing their job, they do have the power to not cover you, period.  Plus, not having open opinions to our art work would actually harm us more in the end.  Let me expound quickly on this point.

Let’s say we do quality work for the most part, but we get a bad review on a particular performance or event.  We can use this review (with a grain of salt) to discover how we can become better for our next performance or event.  We need the feedback to continue to strive to be better.   Without this honest feedback, we are missing out on the complete artistic process.

Plus, you can honor the fact that any review is simply one person’s opinion and not the end all or be all for audience attendance.  Use the review to your advantage by getting a variety of opinions to create some buzz.  A controversial review could still catapult you to a bigger audience.  Be smart about working with journalists and critics.  Being demanding is only going to get you a bad reputation and more bad press.

2. Kaiser & the Cardinal Sin of Consultancy. http://t.co/4MExjM9L

My friend and colleague, Amy Wratchford wrote a blog for #2amt about Kaiser’s consultant faux pas.  I commented after this post to give my view of the situation.  These are my humble opinions.   Let me know your thoughts on this issue too.  For the record, I have always valued the arts commentary of Michael Kaiser, so I was very much surprised to view this particular post.

3. Foodies and music lovers unite! Listen to a Clip From Harvard’s Asparagus Opera http://t.co/6RbOgpYg

UK virtual orchestra puts you in conductor’s stand http://t.co/9C9Zy4NX

New outlet offers tickets, info on zoo, ASF, museum events in downtown Montgomery http://t.co/B567eBy0

These are three fantastic ideas that I have had in the past, but others beat me to it.  I now have positive evidence that ideas are floating all around us.  Some of us may be more in tune to these ideas than others, and it becomes a matter of who decides to implement these ideas for their benefit.  In all three of these cases, there are elements of all 4 C’s at hand, especially Collaboration.  In order to gain a better audience, a more fitting audience, it is best to collaborate with others and work on creative projects that will connect you to your community.

So there you have it – random thoughts on current events in our industry.  Please do feel free to reply if you have any random thoughts of your own.  A Wonderful Wednesday to you and yours!

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.

My eBook

New eBook!  The How of  Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

Leave a comment

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

Top 10 reasons why audience development for the arts might not work…

For today’s Monday Moment, I have been thinking about all the organizations and artists I have had the pleasure to work with.  Through many of these experiences, I have found what works and what doesn’t work regarding audience development.  The following is a quick list for why audience development may not work.

  1. There is no plan  – just like any other goal, you need a plan for your audience development goals.
  2. There is no budget – although many goals can be achieved with little to no money, audience development is worth investing in.
  3. You do not have a team – if you are still relying on your marketing director to do all the work when it comes to audience development, think again.  You need an entire team working together to make positive increases happen.
  4. You don’t do the work – I have seen some organizations have a plan, budget, a team in place, but they forget that they have to do the work to make the goals happen.  Sounds simple stupid, but I have seen standstills happen due to this problem.
  5. You don’t have all 4 C’s in place – if you are missing any of the 4 C’s in your plan, Connections,  Collaborations, Community, and Care, you are missing one of the big components of audience development.
  6. You are lacking the 5th C, Commitment – it takes time to fully implement an audience development plan which takes a full commitment from the entire team.
  7. You don’t have the patience – audience development, building relationships, takes time to occur.  Your goals need to be long term with patience to see your plan through.
  8. You are still viewing audience development as “butts seats” – this is a short term goal and does not guarantee a loyal, returning and supportive audience.
  9. You are not asking your audiences for support – you need to ask if you want the extra volunteer and monetary support.
  10. You are not treating your audiences as partners – the arts fell into centuries worth of not valuing their audiences’ input.   Audiences want to have input again.  Your audience can give you the feedback needed to make all your goals a success.  All you have to do is to give them the opportunity, start listening, and then implement some of the worthy suggestions.

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.

My eBook

New eBook!  The How of  Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

Leave a comment

Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development

Random audience development for the arts thoughts (and questions)

Today I do not have a guest blogger planned.  I thought I would fill in the gap with a variety of thoughts (and questions) that I have been thinking over the past week (in no particular order).  Let this serve as a summary of blog posts from past and future.

  • Audience development is hard work.  Are we ready to work?
  • Again, audience development is not “butts in seats” !!!  A butt doesn’t enjoy the show, people enjoy the show.
  • A team is needed for audience development.  Can we be team friendly people?
  • Should we appeal to audiences when programming is concerned?  Would we be letting them run our show?  More on this thought later.  This article spurred this thought.
  • We need to go beyond the discounts when it comes to building an audience or we serve to lose our bottom line.
  • Quality needs to be at the forefront for everything we do.
  • Why are board members so scared to ask for money?  They are passionate about their arts organization.  Aren’t they?
  • If I received a penny for “Something for everyone” and other inane marketing blurbs, I’d be rich! Maybe I should start an audience development fund this way?
  • Artists and arts organizations are supposed to be creative, right?
  • Social Media needs to be social.  It’s not termed Marketing Media.
  • If you don’t know your audience, you can’t develop your audience.
  • If you don’t know your audience, you won’t know what types of programs will be appealing and successful.
  • Ask them survey questions beyond the demographic questions.
  • Instead of targeting or segmenting – perhaps reaching out is a better term?
  • Numbers are not people.  You can data mine and analyze away, but this step will not build relationships with living people.
  • If something you are doing is not working, why are you continuing to do it?
  • Why spend money on something that is not working?  Because that’s the way you are supposed to spend your budget?
  • Audience development is a state of mind.  Everyone on your team can be a part of it.  Everywhere you go is an opportunity for it!
  • Learn to be a part of your community.  Use the other C’s to connect, collaborate and care.
  • If you have a big marketing staff, over 2 people, and you are still not getting an audience, either someone is not doing their job, or typical marketing is not working anymore.
  • Run your arts business as a business too.
  • Non-profits can be “profitable.”
  • If a certain business model isn’t working for you, explore a new model.
  • Your audience can be part of your team.
  • Ask your audience, they know what you don’t.
  • Treat your volunteers like royalty.
  • Treat your donors like royalty.
  • Thank your supporters often.
  • Be supportive and respectful of everyone on your team and learn to work together knowing that each part has an important role to play.
  • For gosh sakes, program new stuff too!
  • Be true to yourself and your mission.
  • Brand properly.
  • Be relatable.
  • Engage, but also get your audiences involved! There is a difference.
  • The arts matter, but only if you find out why they matter to your audiences.
  • Your thoughts here!  Feel free to comment below.

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.

My eBook

New eBook!  The How of  Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

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Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development, fund raising, Fundraising

How to deal with the dealings of 50% off – audience development for the arts

It is Wednesday, when I normally have a guest blog post for you, but I had something to say that just couldn’t wait.  I am working with a theatre company that is using one or more of the discount sites in order to attempt to fill the seats.  I have written a blog post about my feelings for these types of pricing- Dynamic, Groupon, Living Social, etc.  We also had an #auddev chat on this topic.  The feedback I have been receiving is that these sites do work in helping to fill the seats, but there are two major downsides.  One, it is difficult to follow up when people purchase at the other site, and two, you are helping to create a group of people that will only come to the show at these ridiculously low prices, meaning you devalue your ticket.

When talking with my new client, she admitted that it was rare when a “Saver” audience member followed up to buy tickets at the normal price.  The theatre’s pricing is actually quite reasonable too, so each time they use the discounts, they are undervaluing the cost of the theatre experience.  They are a newer company, which means that these discount sites could be a good introduction.  However, when arts companies keep using these discount sites on a regular basis, the entire industry is going to suffer.

The arts are valuable, and if we keep devaluing what the cost of a ticket should be, we are going to keep bringing in an audience that is fickle and does not see the true value of the arts.

So, what can you do?  You feel you need to use these sites to get new audiences, and it does work to fill the seats.  Here is my list of how to deal with the deals:

1. Create a follow up plan.  If the discount site does not offer you the information about the audience member (a big red flag for audience development), figure out a way you can get this information.  As an industry, I think we should start asking these companies to work with us on this one, but I see the legal issues they may have in terms of giving us the information.  There are ways to track who your discount audience members are, and then find a way to reach out to them so they can become a part of your database.  You can seat people in a certain section so you can follow up with them at an event.  Also, find a way to offer them, “if you purchase your next ticket with us at 50%, you will also get __________.”  This way, they are purchasing the ticket with you for this time, and you get their information.  Or, pass around a clip board one night to see if you can pick up a few more.

2. Once you have found a way to start the relationship with these people by obtaining their contact information.  Start building relationships with them.  For this step, stop using the discount services and instead give these people a special that is a little closer to the value of your ticket.  For example, send them an email saying, “We are not using Groupon for the following weeks, but you can still save with us at 30% off.”  It’s a matter of attempting to ween them off the 50% to value your ticket at a higher price.  You are still hooking with a discount, but you will find out among this group who is loyal to your company and who is only coming for the 50% discount deals.

3. Build stronger relationships with the 30% off crowd.  These are the people that are definitely worth your time and effort. This is the time to survey this group to find out more about them.  You can also figure out ways that they would be comfortable in paying closer and closer to the regular ticket price.

4. In any case, implement a donation campaign to help offset the 50% discount. Some of the discount sites do have the ability to add a donation.  Add a message that their extra dollar will add up to help your arts company.  Ask for only $1 (or less) specifically since they are on these sites to save money, but the specific ask is better than asking for a non-specific donation in this case.  Or, get creative and price the ticket where they have the option to round up to the next dollar.

5. Work on building your own list to keep the information in house. You can also implement your own discount programs to keep the purchase in house.  Use email trades with other companies, purchasing lists from newspapers in your area that have the people you are looking for, and joining any group databases that might be available to reach out to new people.

6. Design a program to obtain new audience by using old fashion audience development.  Build relationships with groups of people in your community and commit to a few outreach efforts that are available over your off/slow season.  Personally invite these groups and people to your next show.  Use a few of your comp tickets to build relationships with group leaders.  The 4 C’s of audience development can help you: Connect, Collaborate, become a part of your Community and show you Care to reach out to new audiences.

You see, the discount sites are claiming to do the work for you in terms of building a new audience, but without real control, you may only be left with discounting over and over to fill the seats (butts in seats – not loyal people in seats).  The arts industry as a whole complains about these disadvantages, but I’m not seeing much in the ways to change this system.

These sites promise the easy way to build audiences, but as you can now see, they have some bad side effects.  You can use these sites as an introductory reach out point, but good old fashion audience development solutions will always be better than the take a pill approach for the long run.

Plus, I would hate to have these discount sites “Wal-Mart” the value of the arts in general.  Tickets to an arts event has value, but they will only have value, if we value 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

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

My eBook

New eBook!  The How of  Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

2 Comments

Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development

Audience development and standing behind your services

This will be a quick one to chew on over the weekend.  I had an experience with a service today that completely let me down.  I asked for a small refund due to unsatisfactory services.  They simply stated that their policy is no refunds.

We in the arts tend to use this statement as well.  No refunds.   However, if someone truly is dissatisfied, and there is proof that the service provided was less than satisfactory, shouldn’t we be issuing refunds?  I am not speaking about the subjective opinions of whether or not someone liked your art.  I am speaking about the customer service that surrounds your art, the experiences that surround your art.  If someone is treated rudely or does not receive their services in the fashion they deserve, a refund is one way to apologize and let them know you want to make it up to them.

Well deserved refunds can actually help with audience development.  It shows that you are listening to your audience members and that you care to give them the best service possible.  Again, I am only speaking in terms of these special circumstances when you know that you have actually messed up or when your organization fails to deliver what is promised.  It takes a big person to fess up to their mistakes, and in being that person, your audience will appreciate that you are on their side. They will also see that you stand behind delivering good service.

Let me put it this way – it is the difference between gaining your audience members’ trust or losing audience members for good.  These little choices in our lives can make a big impact, especially when it comes to audience development.

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

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

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New eBook!  The How of  Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

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Audience development diversity, but at what cost?

Let’s pretend it is Welcome Wednesday just for this moment.  Due to my workload, I was not able to post my guest blog that was scheduled.

On Monday I found the following article:

Portland introduces new diversity goals for local arts and culture groups seeking public funds http://bit.ly/zgoefv.

This article has caused a bit of discussion.  Mainly, most of us are in favor of promoting diversity, but forcing diversity in this fashion might be a little too extreme.  My colleague Drew McManus over at his blog Adaptistration found a thoughtful comment on Joe Patti’s Butts in the Seats blog (love the blog, but hate the name).  Mainly Patti declares the need for the guidelines of this program to be more clearly stated, and that simply taking action for more inclusion may not transfer to true inclusion.  I recommend reading his thoughts.

Again, due to being busy this week, I have not been able to put my own thoughts into words, but my friend and colleague, Amy Wratchford did a fantastic job of formatting a very thorough rebuttal.  My thoughts echo this line of thinking.   Please welcome Amy as our guest blogger, and let us know what you think by replying.

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Amywratchford’s blog

Misguided Means to Unintended Ends: Portland’s arts diversification plan

This article came across my Twitter stream this afternoon and immediately piqued my interest.  On the surface, a city like Portland linking funding for arts organizations to racial diversification of their boards, staff, contractors, and eventually audience sounds like an innovative and progressive idea.  Diversification of voices around the table is a good thing and we should all invite a variety of voices to the conversation.  However, linking vital public funding to blanket benchmarks can’t be healthy.  While I understand this policy is still in its infancy and “years from completion,” the information covered in the article is plenty to make me wary.

Here are some of my concerns:

  • Arts organizations, their missions and their audiences, are as diverse as the city itself.  Suggesting that every organization should be striving for the same benchmarks goes against the very reason they are distinct organizations in the first place.
  • What about organizations that are not producing work that speaks to a large and diverse audience?  We, as an industry, have decried funders dictating programming for decades.  Is it OK here because diversity for diversity’s sake is seen as a good end result?  There should be room in a vibrant arts ecosystem for niche companies and each of those will serve a different audience.  You can’t force an audience to be interested in a type of programming and you shouldn’t force an organization serving a distinct audience to turn from its mission in order to secure public funds.
  • Requiring a certain level of spending (30% of their budget is the “ideal” mentioned in the article) on communities of color is misguided.  How would this play out?
    • Do the Mayor and City Commissioners understand that each dollar an arts organization spends is already stretched to the limit and that few companies can simply divert funds in this way?
    • Does this mean a forced quota for staff, artists, and contractors?  What happened to allowing companies to hire the best person for the job, regardless of ethnicity?
    • Throwing marketing money at underserved communities may be the antithesis of actual engagement of these communities
  • Why just enforce ethnic diversity?  I’m willing to bet that there isn’t a direct correlation between the gender split of the staff and boards of Portland’s arts organizations and the population of the city as a whole.  What about gay voices at the table?  The disabled community?  Religious beliefs?  Socio-economic status?  Diversity comes in all shapes and sizes and each organization daily contends with reaching out to those audiences who could be interested in their work.

Instead of making arts organizations jump through ever more hoops to reach benchmarks unrelated to their mission, how about some of these ideas:

  • Rewarding organizations for diving deep into the communities to which a company’s programming speaks?
  • Judge an organization on their dedication to fulfilling their mission and the steps they take to engage and broaden their audience in ways that make sense for them?
  • Celebrate diversity in all its forms within the arts community

I applaud the Portland city leadership for looking for ways to encourage diversity.  I just fear they are heading down a path that will be detrimental for all involved.  As always, I’d love to know what you think.  Please continue this conversation in the comments below. [:O)]

Amy Wratchford is managing director of the American Shakespeare Center.  As the company’s chief administrative and financial officer, Amy oversees finance, marketing, development, and other business management functions for the ASC.  Before joining the ASC, Amy served as managing director of Synchronicity Theatre in Atlanta, a theatre dedicated to supporting women artists, forging community partnerships, and developing new work.  Previously, she worked in a number of capacities in theatre in New York City, including producer, director, and actor.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in Acting from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and a master’s in fine arts degree in Performing Arts Management from Brooklyn College.

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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

Join us for our next webinar:
March 16th – Noon ET

Working with Mobile Technology to Develop Your Audience
With the rapid adoption of web-enabled cell phones, smartphones and tablet computers, what options are available to arts professionals who want to engage their audiences via mobile devices? How can artists and organizations implement these options cost effectively without taking focus away from the art?

        

Shoshana Fanizza, Audience Development Specialists
Co-hosted with David Dombrosky, Chief Marketing Officer, InstantEncore
Co-produced with David Weuste, Rosebrook Classical

To Register: Click Here! 

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

My eBook

New eBook!  The How of  Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

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Filed under Arts funding, arts management, Audience Development