Tag Archives: audience devlopment and artists

Volunteering for arts audience development?

I was watching “Secret Millionaire” with my 14 year old step daughter.  This show has millionaires hide their identity in order to volunteer in an impoverished area.  In the end, they donate some of their money to help the organizations they have chosen.  The particular episode we were watching had a millionaire and his 19 year old daughter volunteering.  Both the 19 year old and her father had never volunteered before, despite how fortunate they were.  Our 14 year old piped up and said, “How could they not have volunteered by now?”  This made me smile big time.  She has already volunteered and is eager to do more.

Her comment had me thinking about how some artists have difficulty volunteering.  Maybe it is the fact that many of us are struggling to get by with our art.  People should be supporting us, not the other way around, right?  Well, I’m starting to feel this is the wrong attitude.

What can volunteering do for you?  Volunteering your time and talent can open new doors to you.  You can get to know your community and the people of your community in a very intimate way.  This will help you to meet new people that will probably be open to your art in return.  I am a firm believer that when you figure out where you belong (where you would like to volunteer), the others that are already there will click with you too.  There is a reason you are all attracted to the same organization and mission.

Volunteering can also shift your energy from an “I need” energy to an “I have” energy.  All the gurus out there have pointed out that when you come from a place of abundance, this is when and how you will attract more abundance. You will also benefit from the warm fuzzies you will be feeling.  The feeling of love and warmth from volunteering can go a long way!

If you want more diversity, volunteering can be a great way to meet more diverse people.  Think about it.  If you are volunteering for an organization that helps the very people you hope to connect with, they will know that you care about them and a stronger connection will be made.

The last point I want to make is the fact that your giving is best from a place of giving and not a place of “what will I get in return.”  If you start feeling like you are giving too much away and not getting enough in return, this means you are not in the right mind set.  Volunteering is best when you are doing it for the sake of others, not for your own sake, and in return, you will see the benefits naturally when you don’t worry about the give/get scale in life.

I wanted to bring up a quick example.  Coming from the orchestra world, it is rare when orchestra musicians volunteer their time to the organizations that hired them.  Why is this?  Perhaps it is a matter of  union contracts?  I feel that these contracts need to change.  If the musicians really want to help turn things around in their favor, I do feel volunteering a little time and talent is one way to do it.  Orchestras are in need of musicians for outreach opportunities in order to build audience.  Building audiences will lead to more demand.  More demand means more services can be scheduled, which ultimately will benefit the musicians.  In order for this chain of reaction to happen, musicians may need to volunteer to help out.  With a bigger organization like an orchestra, the musicians can rotate their time.  This will create a team effort and no one musician will feel particularly put out (they can choose to continue volunteering).  Of course, if the orchestra has the funds, the musicians can be paid, but since this is a post about volunteering…

How long has it been since you have volunteered?  Have you used your time and talent recently to help your community?  I challenge you to do so in the near future, and please feel free to let me know what happens afterward.  I can’t wait to hear how many doors open to you for connecting to new audiences.

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

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Audience development for the arts end of year a-musings (Part 2)

In order to make my “Best of” list of advice a top 10 list, there are three more main points to make.  Drum roll please!

8.  Deliver impeccable customer service!  I wanted to remind you that when we have an extremely positive experience or when we have an extremely negative experience, most of us will tell 3-10 people.  Now that we have social media, these numbers are vastly larger.  For example, yesterday I read someone else’s blog about how poor the customer service was for a business he had to deal with.  He sent this blog to his list of Twitter Followers (around 450) and he probably sent it to his Facebook friends as well.  I bet he even sent out a few emails to his closest friends and family.  Some of his followers, family and friends probably forwarded to their circle of people. It would be fair to say that his bad experience with this company, his story was told to at least 1,000 people total.  Yowza!  Next, consider whose opinions we value the most – opinions from our friends and family.  Double yikes!

In this age of blazing fast communication, it is extremely important to give your patrons the best service possible, before, during, and after your event.  When the service is incredible, people will talk favorably about you and your art, and your wonderful story will spread across the land.  With our world becoming smaller and smaller due to social media, “the land” is bound to be international (more to think about).

9. Fast and friendly follow up, please!  I know I have blogged about this topic before too, but it needs to be mentioned again.  Many artists and organizations are not following up with their patrons.  Part of the reason may be lack of keeping good data so you can follow up.  Another factor is the old “I simply don’t have enough time” excuse.  If you are scratching your head wondering why your patrons are not following up with more purchases, it is probably due to the fact that you are not following up with them.  When you drop the ball, it sends a message to your patrons that you don’t need their patronage again.  Period.

I recently framed my Linus Maurer with the little message he sent to us.  If Linus can take time out of his busy schedule, I’m sure you can too.  Following up is more valuable than creating marketing for new purchasers so allocate a little of that time for following up.  Keeping a relationship with your existing patrons will reap you many benefits and it costs less to follow up (versus obtaining a new patron).  Remember the old adage:  Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold.  If you do not keep a good database so you can follow up, consider obtaining a better way to keep your records.  This investment is completely worth it.  After you have a good system in place, develop a program that creatively keeps you in touch with your patrons.  Above all, any reason to thank them is a good reason to get in touch.

In a nutshell, if you continue to spend your time obtaining new patrons (instead of following up with your existing patrons), that is all that you will ever have, new patrons.  It is more costly and a less effective way to run a business, and you will never achieve the loyal support your art needs and deserves.

10. Implement changes when needed.  The old excuse “that is how it has always been done” is simply, in a word, weak.  With our world changing at lightening speed, we as artists and arts organizations need to change too.  Traditions are only traditions because we have made them so.  Consider making new traditions.  Here is a list of items to consider changing:

  • Your Board (if you have one)  Are the right people on your board?  Are they doing their job of fundraising and strategic planning?  Are they advocates for your organization – do they build relationships in the community on your behalf?  If the answer is no to any of these questions – your board needs to change.
  • Is there something your patrons complain about?  Develop a solution and tell them about it – make the changes to make them happy!
  • Is your marketing/brand bland and like everyone else’s – refer back to beginning points in Part 1 and change!
  • Are the people who are volunteering or being paid to support you actually supporting you?  If not, make a change!
  • Are you getting to know your patrons as people?  If not, make a change and get to know them.
  • Are you taking time out to connect with people?  Coffee, lunch, dinner?  If not, go out there, connect, and change.
  • Are you thanking your patrons enough?  If you are not thanking them at least 3 times per transaction/donation – make a change!
  • Are you asking for support personally – again refer to Part 1 and change.
  • Is your business structure working for you?  If not, make a change.
  • Is your programming working for you? Ditto.
  • Are you engaging with your patrons?  No?  Change and engage!
  • Is your mission current?  If not, make a change.
  • Are you following up?  No?  Then change and begin to follow up.
  • Do you have a good database for keeping notes about your patrons?  No?  Take some of your change and make this change!
  • Are you collaborating and becoming a part of your community?

I think you get the idea.  Sometimes it takes action before your entire team can be motivated.  Someone needs to make a change so your world, your circumstances can change.

With 2010 coming to an end and 2011 beginning, take the time to breathe and to sort out what is working for you and what is not working for you.  Look around at all the new solutions that have occurred during the year.  Create solutions that are best for you and your patrons for a brighter new year.

One of the wisest men who ever graced our earth said:

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Gandhi

What do you want to see?

Happy New Year to you!  Cheers to a prosperous 2011 with an arts world that is supported by a plethora of happy and loyal patrons!

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedinE-News

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

Workshops are available!

Does your arts organization or artists group need some new energy?  Our workshops can generate enthusiasm for audience development.

Contact us for more information!

Hourly Phone Sessions – Do you have a question about audience development or need feedback or advice on a project or challenge?  ADS can help!

Donate to the Audience Development Specialists Grant Fund!

YouTube Gallery – Do you have an amazing way you use YouTube to promote your art?  Let ADS know, and you might see your YouTube highlighted on our new gallery!

Leave a comment

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Audience development for the arts end of year a-musings (Part I)

Today I have been thinking about the year 2010. With all the “Best in 2010” articles floating around, it can’t be helped.  In the near future, I will be sifting through my tweets to find the best tweets for the 2010 Audience Development Twitter Awards.  At this moment though, I have been giving much thought to New Year’s resolutions.

2010 is nearing the end and a bright and shiny 2011 is due any day now.  What would you do differently next year?  What new ideas, programs will you want to implement? In terms of audience development, here is my “best of” advice to my fellow artists and arts organizations:

  1. Find your niche!  I cannot stress this enough. With all the new artists and arts organizations popping up, it is extremely important now to differentiate yourself from everyone else.  If you have not discovered your niche, ask yourself the following questions. What do you do better than anyone else?  What is your main focus? If others have similar missions, what makes you different from them?  In a world of saturation, you need to define what makes you special.  This defining will help get you in touch with others that relate to your niche.
  2. Brand yourself correctly so the right audience can find you.  After discovering your niche, make sure your brand matches and helps promote your niche.  It is time to individualize your marketing.  In my humble opinion, the reason why some artists and arts organizations get overlooked is due to the fact that their branding is just like everyone else’s.  I see the same old types of photographs, messages, missions and programs that everyone else is doing.  No wonder people may think the arts are not new and exciting!  It is time to be the artists that we are, creative individuals that push beyond the status quo.  Let yourself be brilliant and brand yourself so there is no doubt as to who you really are.
  3. Put the passion back into everything you do.  It is such a buzz kill to hear artists belly aching about not being recognized, not being paid enough, not selling enough, not having enough gigs… Guess what?  The audience can pick up on these vibes.  We need to ask ourselves again – Why am I creating art in the first place?  We need to put the passion back into creating and enjoying our art.  This positive vibe will also be perceived by the audience and will translate into positive actions.  Let’s be completely honest.  Maybe the arts are suffering due to lackluster offerings.  Maybe we are lackluster since our passion has been replaced by righteousness or the “we deserve better” act.  Art comes from the soul.  Without passion, the soul cannot produce high quality art.  With passion, the soul will be joyful and create offerings that other souls will be drawn to.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for support.  All artists and arts organizations need support, but many of us are afraid to ask for it.  Why?  I had a discussion yesterday about this very point.  I came to the conclusion that the reason we may have trouble asking is that we do not define our art in terms of a tangible product.  Maybe this needs to change.  The arts (proven time and time again) have many beneficial gifts for our society.  They benefit the individual and our communities.   This means that the arts can be defined in a tangible sense.  The arts are worth supporting due to these benefits.  Do yourself a favor and get over being shy of asking for support.  You have a product that is worthy of support.  Define all the benefits of your art and make it easy for someone to relate to the reasons why your art is worth investing in.
  5. After you realize you are worthy of support, ask in a personal manner.  This is the other reason why people may not be supporting your art.  You need to ask personally!  We as individuals are inundated with donation requests.  Sending a form letter is going to end up with all the other form letters, “filed” in the trash mainly.  The reason people give to one particular cause over another is when they feel connected with the cause.  Connect with people again and ask them personally for support.  If you know so and so, don’t send them the same old form letter, write a personal ask to them or take them out for coffee.  Form letters are not working anymore, and we have been hiding behind them due to our fears of asking for support.  Get up the courage to relate personally again.  You will find all the support you need this way.
  6. Collaborate more! Due to the saturation point and the economy, we need to collaborate more, not less.  We need to get over the mentality that there is not enough to go around and instead share in the bounty that is here.  I want to challenge you to find at least one creative collaboration for 2011 and put your passion into it. Take the time to look around you and see how we can help support each other!
  7. Discover the talent that is in your own back yard to expand your resources.  I hear people talk about capacity issues, but there is an easy solution.  I could get in trouble for discussing this one, but I feel that we are too hung up on qualifications and letters after our names.  Of course, if you need to see a doctor you want a qualified one.  I myself am applying to an Arts Administration Master’s program next year to give myself a little more polish.  However, the talents of individuals can go unnoticed and unused due to this mentality.  For example, I was looking for a graphic design artist.  I interviewed several for the job.  There were some that had the fancier degrees and some that didn’t.  I actually ended up hiring a person that was intelligent and talented, someone without the fancier degree.  You see, education is important, but so are the individual gifts, talents and experiences that we have.  Do not overlook someone simply based on credentials.  Do not place someone strictly based on credentials either.  Instead, take the time to discover that person’s individual gifts and how they can be useful.

To be continued tomorrow…

 

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedinE-News

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

Workshops are available!

Does your arts organization or artists group need some new energy?  Our workshops can generate enthusiasm for audience development.

Contact us for more information!

Hourly Phone Sessions – Do you have a question about audience development or need feedback or advice on a project or challenge?  ADS can help!

Donate to the Audience Development Specialists Grant Fund!

YouTube Gallery – Do you have an amazing way you use YouTube to promote your art?  Let ADS know, and you might see your YouTube highlighted on our new gallery!

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Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development, Volunteer Management

Audience development and the big D – Diversity

Diversifying your audience: Reaching out to new and different groups of people that would enjoy your art and building relationships that would result in them becoming a regular part of your audience.

It’s been a while since I have written about diversity.  I have been seeing some discussion on this topic lately.  It seems that everyone wants to find the magic solution for creating a diverse audience, but many of us are not sure where to find this solution.  Would we even know how to apply the solution once we have found it?

The problem with many of the current suggested solutions such as special programming, hiring a more diverse staff, creating a more diverse board, and employing artists of various backgrounds, is that they may lack  follow through with the new audience.  For instance, you may recruit someone to be on your staff or board that is of color or of a younger generation or from a particular geographic location, but are you having this person reach out and build relationships or are you hoping the mere fact of having a “token” member on your staff  (yes, I went there) will work wonders?  If the latter, then people will see right through your “token” efforts.

Hiring artists of various backgrounds as well as scheduling special programming can help to begin your efforts.   Notice how I mention this will “begin your efforts.”  There needs to be follow up and follow through to build relationships so your new found audience will keep coming back and know that your efforts are not a one-time event.

From what I see, if you are not willing to put the time and effort that is needed for true audience development, your diversity efforts will continue to have touch and go results. Let’s get real!  If you are not even remotely thinking that such and such art is for you, would one special art event get you hooked?    Can you blame them if they don’t come back with a one-time effort?  The organizations and artists that are creating more diverse audiences have been doing the work that relationship building requires.

It also needs to be mentioned that if you are simply attempting diversity for the grant dollars, you have lost the meaning and the beauty of diversity.   We need to stop treating our audiences as numbers and start treating them as people.

In order to make this a more solution oriented blog post, I present you with a random list of dos and don’ts in terms of diversifying your audience:

  • Do your homework and find out if your potential audience would enjoy your art.
  • Do format a three to five year plan in which you reach out and build relationships with new groups of people.
  • Do stick with the plan over the years and tweak as necessary.
  • Do create programming that is enticing for your potential audience.
  • Don’t expect them to understand your art right away.  Don’t expect them not to understand your art right away.
  • Do educate about your art if necessary.
  • Don’t create one-time programming and expect this will do the trick.
  • Do follow up with your new audience and start a conversation with them.
  • Do continue to build relationships through more programs of interest.
  • Do set up a task force or committee to help outreach to your potential audience.
  • Do diversify your own life by building relationships with people of various backgrounds, attending new and different events, etc.
  • Do learn what it is like to be different.
  • Do learn their language.
  • Don’t expect “token” recruits to diversify your audience.
  • Don’t expect them to come to you.  You may have to  go to them.
  • Do understand that people of a different background may need to learn to trust you as people before investing their money in your art.
  • Don’t simply translate your marketing and expect this to return big results.  It’s not the language that brings them in, it is how you understand them as people that will start the relationship.
  • Do realize that they may purchase differently or have different preferences than what you have in place. If you have done your relationship building, you will know what you need to implement to make them more comfortable.
  • Do find opportunities to collaborate with a variety of organizations and groups.
  • Do personally invite people that may be interested in helping you build relationships with their communities.
  • Do keep the conversation going.
  • Do learn to brand your marketing so all diverse groups involved will appreciate you.

With well thought out audience development planning and a good helping of time and effort, you can build a more diverse audience.  Do understand that despite our differences, we can all enjoy high quality art!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
http://www.buildmyaudience.com
Facebook/twitter /E-mazing Newsletter /Blog

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

New Services!

Hourly Phone Sessions – Do you have a question about audience development or need feedback or advice on a project or challenge?  ADS can help!

Donate to the Audience Development Specialists Grant Fund!

YouTube Gallery – Do you have an amazing way you use YouTube to promote your art?  Let ADS know, and you might see your YouTube highlighted on our new gallery!

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Top 3 excuses I hear for not attempting audience development

I have been hearing a variety of excuses why some organizations and artists are not using audience development.   In this blog, I would like to take the time to provide answers for the top three excuses.

1. I am an individual artist so I do not need audience development.
Audience development is for anyone and everyone that needs support.  If you need a fan base, volunteers, donors, patrons, board members, people to help spread the word, you need audience development.  Audience development is about building relationships with people that will want to support your art.  It is about building positive people energy, or a community, that will surround your art to help you build more support.

2. I do not have the money or capacity to implement an audience development plan.
Most people do not realize that audience development helps build funding and capacity to support your art form.  The real problem here is that there is a need of shifting from old methods to newer methods.  If you were to take a look at what you are spending your time and money on, I am willing to bet that you will find old methods that are not worth funding or spending time on anymore.  Then you can shift these resources to an audience development plan that will build more support and start you on a more successful path.

3.  I already have marketing, why do I need audience development?
If you are in need of a bigger and better audience, then perhaps marketing alone is not working.  Marketing is about hoping to target individuals that will want to take part in your art.  Audience development is about learning who these individuals are, reaching out to them, and building relationships with these people that you know will want to take part in your art.  I hope you see the difference.

I see there is a need for education, so I am attempting to complete my book by this December.  I am also available for workshops, seminars and phone sessions.  Please feel free to get in touch with me when you are ready to take the audience development plunge!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
http://www.buildmyaudience.com
Facebook/twitter /E-mazing Newsletter /Blog

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

New Services!

Hourly Phone Sessions – Do you have a question about audience development or need feedback or advice on a project or challenge?  ADS can help!

Donate to the Audience Development Specialists Grant Fund!

YouTube Gallery – Do you have an amazing way you use YouTube to promote your art?  Let ADS know, and you might see your YouTube highlighted on our new gallery!

Leave a comment

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

Audience development for the arts community – time to open up and share

I’m working on a juicy blog for the future.  In the meantime, I have been thinking about how challenging it is to get people to talk about audience development, yet everyone seems to have questions.  So why is the arts community as a group shying away from major audience development discussion?  Here are my thoughts:

  1. People are afraid to speak up.  One reason may be that they do not want to appear like they have any issues.  Another reason may be that they are afraid their idea will be stolen.   I believe that if you are too closed to sharing, you won’t be open enough to receiving.  Also, if the idea is truly yours, only you will be able to establish it with your own style, which will make it unique no matter who tries to implement it.  Remember, we have nothing to fear but fear itself (thank you Roosevelt and Thoreau)!
  2. Maybe we do not know as a group where to go to discuss these issues.  I at times get DM’d on twitter asking a specific question about audience development.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an entire community helping each other out with these problems?  Here are a few places you can ask our community:
    • On twitter, I am attempting to use the hashtag #auddev to post great articles and to share fabulous ideas.  Maybe we could use this hashtag to ask and answer questions about audience development.  Then we would have a place to not only centrally ask a question, but to find some amazing answers.
    • I have started a LinkedIn Group, for the same reasons, and you have more characters to use for your post.  Please feel free to join the group and post your questions and advice for others.  This board can accommodate numerous discussions at once.
    • If you are located in Chicago, there is a group called Arts Engagement Exchange – A Network To Build Chicago Arts Audiences. They have included a discussion board on various audience development topics, an easy way to work with your peers on new ideas.
    • Your local arts alliance may have discussion groups to join.
    • I will post more as I find them.  Please comment if you know of an arts group discussing audience development.
  3. We do not collectively have the perception that everyone can be successful and instead have a competition mentality.  This might fall into the fear category, but I feel it is a point that needs to be addressed separately.  I see groups afraid to collaborate due to this mentality.  We can keep viewing each other as dog eat dog, but wouldn’t it be better to view each other as resources for support?   The choice is ours.
  4. We don’t have time to talk about audience development since we are busy people.  This seems like a catch-22.  We don’t have time to discuss audience development which is an important issue to each and every one of us?  Maybe we need to make some time or look at our priorities so we can find this new support for the arts, our very own arts community.
  5. This point could get me in trouble personally, but in general, we need to stop attempting to rely on experts for all the answers. Audience development is about building support through relationships.  This means as an arts community, the biggest audience development ideal is to communicate and support each other.
  6. We aren’t used to looking wide and far enough. It would be good to start viewing the world as our oyster.  In terms of the next best audience development idea, this idea can come from anyone, anywhere!  Of course you need to evaluate every idea with a grain of salt.  What may work for you and your audiences may not work for someone else and their audiences.  But just think, we would all have a better chance of finding what is best for us if we are all willing to keep our eyes open and share ideas, drawbacks and successes.
  7. Last point, maybe some people in our group do not know what audience development really is.  If you have questions, please remember that there are no stupid questions, only people too dumb not to ask (is there a softer way to put this?).

We can learn from each other the best practices for audience development.  I am a firm believer in you get what you give too.  If you are in need of advice, perhaps it is time for you to help someone else to get the ball rolling.  So, go out there and share! I am here and hear to help.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
http://www.buildmyaudience.com
Facebook/twitter /E-mazing Newsletter /Blog

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

New Services!

Hourly Phone Sessions – Do you have a question about audience development or need feedback or advice on a project or challenge?  ADS can help!

Donate to the Audience Development Specialists Grant Fund!

YouTube Gallery – Do you have an amazing way you use YouTube to promote your art?  Let ADS know, and you might see your YouTube highlighted on our new gallery!

Leave a comment

Filed under arts advocacy, arts management, Audience Development

Arts saturation point and audience development

I had been reading the article in the Ottawa Citizen:  Where have all the theatregoers gone?

The article takes on the question after a theater run that was supposed to run 5 weeks closed one week early due to not enough audience.

The problem seems to be that while Ottawa theatre companies have been springing up faster than revelations about wannabe lobbyists, there aren’t enough audience members, and especially new ones, to go around. Blame whatever you want — competing entertainment, a citizenry too pooped at the end of the day to go anywhere — we don’t attend theatre in the numbers needed to sustain what could be a defining aspect of Ottawa life.

I have been seeing this phenomenon happen right here in Boulder, CO.  Have we hit the saturation point of the arts in ratio to the amount of audience members?

According to the 2000 Census, Boulder County has 291,288 people.  Currently I am counting:

  • Around 10 dance organizations
  • Around 20 music organizations
  • Around 13 theatre organizations
  • Around 18 art/museum organizations and galleries

This is not including individual artists or bands or art venues and associations which have their own events.

Now how many people out of our population actually attends arts events?  The average around the  U.S. has been about 29% according to NEA’s
State and Regional Differences in Arts Participation: A Geographic Analysis of the 2008 SPPA

We need to break it down further.  Average percentages for these individual disciplines in Colorado:

  • 3% for dance (average ballet and other)
  • 8% for music
  • 12-13% theater (average musical/non-musical)
  • 22% art museums and galleries

So for theatre in our area, if we do the math, we have close to 37,000 people that would enjoy seeing a theatre event.  We have 13 theatre organizations competing for those 37,000 people.  If all were to get a fair share of this segment, there would be a little over 3,000 people per theatre company and most companies average 5 shows per season with 3-6 runs per show.  A further complication is the fact that someone who enjoys the theatre might also enjoy dance or music events.  Now imagine the scheduling problems in our county.  You could end up with a weekend that has 3 or 4 theater productions, 2 or 3 dance productions, 3 major benefit events, and 2 or 3 big music events.  Visual art events seem to pop up all year round, and they are plentiful!  Suddenly 3,000 people (assuming you are getting your full fair share, wink, wink) are not enough to fill houses.

So do you think that the arts may have a saturation problem where arts are a-plenty?  How do we deal with this growing problem?  We have come into the day and age that people want to put on their own show and start their own arts company.  Many people want to be the creator!

I feel that audience development is the answer to this challenge.  Remember the 4 C’s of audience development:

  1. Connection – you need to get connected to the people that would enjoy your event/art.  Make the extra efforts to build relationships!
  2. Collaboration – maybe it is time to consider bigger projects by collaborating.  These projects will attract a larger audience that will benefit all involved.
  3. Community – the arts need to begin acting like a community.  Perhaps a community calendar could be set up so it helps alleviate the problem of too many art events scheduled at one time.
  4. Caring – since there is a competition factor, wouldn’t it make sense to care a little more about your audience and your art?  Implement ways that show that you care: create high quality art and engage with your audience regularly.

If an artist or organization takes the time and effort for audience development, the saturation problem won’t be as much of a factor.  Audience development is about building relationships with people, not numbers.  It is about creating a happy and loyal community around your art.  With audience development, you can thrive in any condition or situation that you come up against!

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

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