Tag Archives: Audience Development

The disvalue of the arts…when did it occur?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Shoshana

7 Comments

Filed under Audience Development

“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

 

 

3 Comments

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

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

1 Comment

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

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

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Arts, Audience Development

Random thoughts on audience development for a wacky Wednesday!

Pictures from iPhoneCamera 130

It’s one of those days when I have too many different thoughts to process and am having a difficult time picking just one to focus on.  So, here is my next installment of random thoughts.  Let me know which ones you would like me to develop further!

  • Some organizations/artists have a catch-22 situation in terms of doing personal emails.  Personal emails have proven to be quite effective, and email is still the number one social media avenue. If you want to build your audience, this is an easy way to do it!  However, there might be a capacity issue that excuses attempting personal emails.  They do take time.  So, should an artist/organization make the time to build their audience or keep doing what they are doing due to time issues and have lower attendance?
  • I just took a survey regarding online art sales.  I prefer going to an artist’s studio and purchasing in person.  Seeing the art and the artist makes it more special than the online marketing formats.  Is this just me?  And, what would the art world look like if they focused on more in-person formats instead of the online marketing galleries?  Could they possibly use the new “Hangout” technologies to get the best of both worlds?
  • I have a presentation coming up for the Boulder County Arts Alliance – Audience Affairs: Audience Building for All and Your Top 20 Tips to increasing everything.  If you happen to know anyone in the Boulder/Denver area, please do invite them to join me.  We all need to build our audiences in one way or another.  It is good to go to events that give tips and education on audience building!
  • I love when people contact me, yet I wish some of them would contact me during times they do not need/want anything from me.  Are you doing your H.A.Y. (How are you) calls/emails?
  • Is it good to live in a society with social media everything?  It seems like every experience we have now is linking to a specific social media format.  New formats seem to be cropping up everyday.  Is this a good thing?
  •  I have seen the challenges that occur when a specific person leaves an organization, and then a big gaping hole is there until the position is filled again.  It’s the same issue when an organization or artist hires a consultant.  The consultant does a good job, yet when he/she leaves, the organization or artist falls back to the pre-consultant situation.  I’m thinking an educated, team mentality would be good to establish so these sink-holes do not gulp us up.  How can we achieve this?
  • Evolution in the arts is happening, slowly yet surely.  We can decide to join in on the fun or stick to our traditions.  Either choice could be the better choice.  It all depends on your mission and your passion.  There is a place for traditions as well as the new.  What audiences do you wish to serve and partner with?  This will lead you to your answer.
  • Why are CEO’s of organization that are in financial straights making the big bucks?  Are they cutting their salaries to be part of the solution?  Are they relying on cutting everything else instead of their salaries?  It is a shame when a non-profit organization starts behaving more like the United States Congress or the humungo over inflated corporations.  Great benefits and pay for us, cuts to programs, benefits and salaries for them.  How is this attitude helping the arts?
  • In the past week, two successful Kickstarters of people I know reached over $10,000 each.  Fundraising for your art and passion is possible, especially when you have connections with people and ask for help.  I received one of these notices from their mother.  Audience development works!
  • Let’s switch to a “What’s in it for us?” mentality.  The me, me, me is getting quite taxing. Even social media is being called out for its narcissistic tendencies.
  • We create our worlds.  If you want to get something accomplished, focusing on creating and implementing solutions is what we can do.  The solution doesn’t always have to fit into society’s neat little boxes.  Remember, those boxes were created by people too.  Who is to say what is best, especially if what is “best” is stalling our own progress.  As long as it doesn’t harm anyone, why not go for it?

Again, let me know which ones you would like me to develop further!

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 funding, arts management, Arts technology, Audience Development, Fundraising, Online fund raising, Online fundraising

How to make “free” work now and use the “it” factor later

It

There were two articles that have me thinking more this morning.  The first one, Hidden costs of free tickets by Deborah Stone.

Giving away freebies may not be the best way to grow your audiences but how do you set the right discount?

UK Arts economist Tim Baker told arts marketing professionals at the Australia Council Marketing Summit that they needed to be strategic about the incentives they offered.

Baker, who is Director of leading UK-based arts consultancy, Baker Richards, and Vice-President of its US sister company, The Pricing Institute, was speaking about pricing strategies for arts marketing.

He said free entry was often less valuable than strategic discounting because people took the freebies but didn’t come back. If they paid something –even very low – they were more likely to see the service as something worth paying for and would return and pay more.

Discounts and freebies do have to be handled carefully.  There is a chance that the audience will get too used to discounted prices and take your art for granted.  The fact that free does not guarantee that people will come back is also a consideration.  I recommend reading the entire article since it highlights some of the best ways to promote discounts.

My thoughts after reading this was the simple thought I have had before, free could work if you have a follow up program in place.  Free should not be just about getting people to come and sample, but also for you to build a relationship with them.  Make them feel important by following up and offering them a way to stay connected to you and your art.  I do not see the majority of artists and arts organizations using follow up programs to convert these free (or discounted) audience members into future loyal members.

Also, free could be a fabulous way (I agree with the 2-for-1 strategies) to get your current audience involved in bringing new audience members.  This works on so many levels since your audience becomes more involved (deepening their experience with you) and you end up broadening and potentially diversifying your audience as well (similar and different people will attend).

So, I agree that free can be undervaluing your worth, but if used in the right way, it could bring exactly what you were hoping it would.

The second article that caught my eye this morning was Jade Simmons: Elvis, Meryl & Michael at the Cliburn: The Intangibles of “It”.

The audience didn’t even know this kid, but they loved him, from his stride to his stringendos, even with only one prelim recital under his belt and a long grueling road ahead in the Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. So how come he made them swoon so? Because he had “it,” that thing that makes you like music you once ignored, that makes you cheer when that’s not usually your way of behaving.

She goes on to compare three different performers of the Cliburn Competition, their special qualities, to Elvis’, Meryl Streep’s and Michael Jordan’s “it” factors.

There are a couple reasons why her thoughts have sparked a few of my own.  First, I applaud her ability to connect the dots from pop culture to classical music.  We need more of this mentality to create the relevancy that is missing today.  Secondly, it made me consider the “it” factor further.  It’s not just about individuals with this special quality.  Organizations can also have an “it” factor that makes them hook you.  These organizations stand out from the crowd and apply their “it” to everything that they do.  You feel fantastic working with them!

Perhaps we need to consider what our “it” factor is or how to reveal the hidden “it” factors we possess, bring them out, and make them shine.

Once we are using our “it,” we might not need to discount or give tickets away any longer since we will attract the right people that love our “it.”   Free can open the door for them, and the “it” will have them coming back for more!

Feel “free” to comment about your “it” to share…

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

3 Comments

Filed under Audience Development

Hakuna Matata On A Sunday Afternoon

Well worth reading!  An audience member’s perspective at the autism-friendly performance of The Lion King.

Hakuna Matata On A Sunday Afternoon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Arts, Audience Development