Tag Archives: Change

Laziness will not build an audience

This week has made many of us grumpy.  There have been so many shutdowns and mismanagement highlights in the news.  During a conversation with an arts colleague, I posed the question, why do these management mishaps happen?  Is it laziness?

We talked about how many of us keep on keeping on, but perhaps without thought to why we are keeping on if what we are doing is not working.  Is this due to laziness?

I know ego could be an answer as well, but let’s not go there and assume it is laziness.  We have become too lazy to do what we need to do to get out of our ruts, and most of us are in a rut.  It takes time and effort to get out of this rut.  We need to be willing to put this sweat equity in or we are not going to be as successful as we hope to be.

Here is a list of reasons why we have become lazy in managing our arts businesses:

  • We don’t evaluate what we are doing enough – I went to a workshop about evaluation.  Evaluation should happen before, during and after an event or program.  We need to know what is working and what is not.  We also need to ask ourselves if what we are doing is necessary and if it fits with our missions. Otherwise, we are wasting a lot of time, effort, money and other resources on something that may not be producing results.  When’s the last time you evaluated what you are doing?
  • We don’t prioritize – After evaluation and getting rid of what doesn’t work, it is good to prioritize what is left on our plates. What really matters?  What needs to get done first?  This takes some thought, time and effort, but it is worth it to know that your energy is going to what is going to matter the most for you and your audiences.
  • We don’t slow down to get it right the first time – Yes, I need to work on this one.  We are all rushing around trying to get millions of things done in a short amount of time.  Many of us wear a multitude of hats.  Evaluating and prioritizing can help, but we also need to slow down to make sure we are working effectively.  My friend said she forgot to sign a thank you letter, and this letter went to someone she knew.  Did her friend call her on it?  Big YES!  It made her friend feel badly that not only was the letter not signed, but there wasn’t even a quick note to say hello.  Admit it, how many times have you sent an email out with a mistake you could have caught if you slowed down by a few seconds.  This is happening more and more these days due to all the hectic, hyper communication we are doing.  Think about slowing down.  It will help with your sanity too.  ;O)
  • We don’t follow through – From signing our full names at the end of emails to providing links and other helpful information where it counts, we are not following through to give our audiences the necessary information to take the next step.  There have been many times I have received emails that did not have proper contact information.  I couldn’t call them even if I wanted to, which in some cases, I did want to call.  When we send out social media without the extra links, it becomes a wasted effort.  Your audiences can’t buy tickets or get more information without these links.  Let’s start following through!
  • We don’t follow up and build relationships – So many times I see programs initiated, but after it is all said and done, we don’t follow up with these audiences.  We are not building relationships with people.  Instead, we stick with sending out more mass marketing messages and doing programming and business practices we feel is best, because that’s the rut we are in.
  • We keep thinking in terms of, this is the way it is has always been – Is it working?  Have you filled the house and sold your art shows out?  Time to rethink and put energy toward new ways of doing business.
  • We don’t have the time to deal with something new – Go back to evaluation and prioritizing and you will find the time and resources you need.
  • We don’t know how to change – This one is interesting since there are consultants, workshops, seminars, webinars, etc. that are attempting to teach us how to make thoughtful changes.  People are not showing up even when they declare they need this type of education.  ?!

For someone that has been advocating for audience development, which is a new way of managing an arts business, all of the mentioned above does make me and my fellow colleagues a little grumpy.  We are sad to see so many shutdowns.  The “laziness” will lead to more shutdowns.

Is it laziness?  Or is it an unwillingness to change? 

Let me know your thoughts. 

PS Yesterday, I did a shout out for Thomas Cott and his You’ve Cott Mail for my Giving Program month. Sign up with him for themed arts news.  I am still thinking about today’s gift.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

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

Please consider supporting ADS so we can continue our work.  Donate here! 

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

My eBook

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Going in circles or Artsitis

Artsitis – Will you work for the cure?

I feel the arts are a bit dis-eased.  Budget cuts, shrinking audiences, and other gloom and doom that hits the news regularly are casting a murky illness over what we could be doing to better the situation.  I have good news and bad news.  Which would you like first?  The bad news?

The bad news is that the majority in our industry have Artsitis with the nasty symptoms of going in circles, feelings of paralysis, and whoa as me pox.  The symptoms worsen with each focus on the negative and each complaint about what is going wrong, which leads to migraines and nervous breakdowns.  This group of arts folks keep bashing out the what is wrong scenario.  They hire expensive research teams to calculate and articulate what is wrong and what should be done, over and over again.  They attempt to paint a different picture to funders while doing the same clunky, tired out programs.  The puss builds and oozes, the germs spread, the infection infects, particularly in bigger gathering places, where frequent Artsitis outbreaks have been documented.  You see, the shoulds and all the talk about the problems add up to more dis-ease.

This dis-ease makes my skin itch and my brain twitch.  I am sick with concern that as an industry, we are heading in the wrong direction and/or moving at such a snail pace that life will run us over and bury us in its dust.

The good news, which is desperately needed to ease the pain, there is a cure for Artsitis and some artists and arts organizations have already been applying the dosage.  It’s called audience development in all its varying forms:

  • Research that focuses on solutions that turns into programs for building your audience
  • Technology formats that engage, educate and inform your audiences
  • Outreach projects with the intention of starting relationships with people that are not attending
  • Social media which is social
  • Diversity programs that bring people of varying cultures together
  • Fundraising projects that get the audiences involved

I could go on and on.  In order to be effective, what do all of these audience development points have in common?  Focused planning and committed action.  Instead of contracting Artsitis, going in circles, and applying bandages of conversation, action (the antidote) is being taken. There are examples out there of people experimenting with their dosage in order to get to what works to cure their dis-ease.

Artsitis is making us turn blue (and green with envy of those already working toward their cure), and making us feel blue about our industry.  We feel panicked and out of control.  We feel fear that we don’t have enough time to turn things around.  Misery loves company, so we talk and talk and talk about what needs to happen, what needs to shift, instead of actually doing something about it.

Maybe we all (myself included) need to take a big dose of reality medicine and realize that if we don’t start taking action to make the changes, Artsitis will eventually kill us.  Strikes and bankruptcies galore.  This is not the arts world I would like to envision.

Aren’t you tired of going in circles or moving at a speed that is easily passed by?  I know I am.  So, I will be taking a huge dose in the coming month of April.  I am taking time to evaluate, research and plan for the next phase, and then action will happen at an experimental speed!  We all can take this dose of medicine any time we want.  There is no shame in taking the time out to mentally and physically prepare for action. In May, I will shift to action.  I admit that I have contracted a little bit of Artsitis, and now it is time to cure what is ailing me.

It’s the action, in the end, that will cure Artsitis after all.   Will you help me work for the cure?

What action are you taking to build relationships with your audiences?  Let’s talk about solutions!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

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

Please consider supporting ADS so we can continue our work.  Donate here! 

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

My eBook

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9 simple arts advocacy actions for daily life

Iheartarts

It’s that time of the year again when arts advocacy days start popping up all over the country.  The official National Arts Advocacy Day is April 8-9. If you want to know your state’s official day, get in touch with a state captain.

I have mentioned in the past that everyday should be an arts advocacy day.  Here are 9 simple ways you can be an arts advocate in your daily life:

  1. Wear an arts t-shirt or button to show your support of the arts.  This will likely start some conversations too.
  2. Point out to the people you are with (or stop a moment to recognize for yourself) when you spot arts in your daily lives.
  3. Post arts events on your Facebook feed and tweet on Twitter with the hashtag #arts to help promote the arts events and arts organizations that you love.
  4. Use your social media to shout out for the arts whenever you appreciate the arts.  For example, while you are watching Downton Abbey, include the #arts tag in your post to show your appreciation!
  5. Write a letter to the editor/producer to say thank you when you see a news story about an arts event.
  6. Buy tickets to arts events to give as gifts to your loved ones when special occasions arise.
  7. Set aside 10 minutes a week to look at your local events calendars and go to an arts event at least once a month.
  8. Bring your kids to an arts event at least once a month.
  9. Do arts “projects” daily – sing, dance, doodle, work on a project with your kids and appreciate the arts and what they do for your daily life!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

Please consider supporting ADS so we can continue our work.  Donate here! 

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

My eBook

 

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“Free” for arts audience development

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

Please consider supporting ADS so we can continue our work.  Donate here! 

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

My eBook

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Excuses for arts audience development?

Excuses, excuses. We may want to accomplish something, however, as humans, we also tend to make excuses.  We want to grow as individuals and artists, to better our art and organizations, yet we ourselves build road blocks to our success.  Silly humans!  So, I wanted to talk about two of the biggest excuses for why people do not start audience development planning and programs.  For my email subscribers, you will need to click on the web link to take you to the page to listen.

Any comments and feedback are appreciated.  Happy Monday to you too!

PS We are getting very close to announcing all of the 2013 offerings – stay tuned!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

Please consider supporting ADS so we can continue our work.  Donate here! 

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

My eBook

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The changing face of classical music for arts audience development

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

Have a great weekend!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

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

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

My eBook

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Resolution vs Commitment for arts audience development

I wanted to share a quick thought that has been on my mind lately.  There is a big difference between a resolution and a commitment.  I have mentioned this thought in passing, but now I want to expand upon it.

You may desire to build your audience.  You might also have a resolution this year, “I will build my audience by x% in 2013.”  However, if you do not make a commitment to take the actions necessary, the resolution will only be a desire, a want.

I view desires or wants as the seed for change, but without water and sunlight and a plan that you put into action to provide everything for that seed to grow, nothing will change.

For 2013, let’s you and I make commitments to take actions for the changes we desire and want.  Let’s create a plan and commit to bigger and better audiences.  Let’s commit to finding you the best audiences for you.

After all, commitment could be the 5th C of audience development, if you commit to it!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

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

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

My eBook

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The Knights Who Say Niche for arts audience development

niche

noun

1. an ornamental recess in a wall or the like, usually semicircular in plan and arched, as for a statue or other decorative object.
2. a place or position suitable or appropriate for a person or thing: to find one’s niche in the business world.
3. a distinct segment of a market.
4. Ecology . the position or function of an organism in a community of plants and animals.
adjective5. pertaining to or intended for a market niche; having specific appeal: niche advertising.

All Monty Python kidding aside, I would like to see more artists and arts organizations say niche.  I was looking at a theatre organization’s website yesterday, and despite the photos and marketing jargon being of a unique quality, the description and the overall look and feel of the organization did not separate them from everyone else.  In a time where it seems like there is an arts organization born every minute and a deep ended pool of individual artists of all kinds, having a niche should be mandatory.What makes you unique or different could make the difference in obtaining the right audiences for you and your art.  Taking the time, money and energy to create your niche brand is the best way to put your money and hard work to good use.  You can still be a theatre, orchestra, dance company, visual artist, film organization, etc., etc., without being exactly like another.  People will still recognize the type of art that you do, and they will also recognize why you are special in our world of art.

Take a look around you.  What arts brands stand out for you?  What arts organizations and artists grab the spotlight and are gaining the best audiences for themselves?  I assure you that these are the organizations and artists that are part of the fantastic group of The Knights Who Say Niche!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

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

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

My eBook

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Guest Post: Are artists involved in your audience development planning? They should be.

I have a guest blog post today for you.  I met Samantha at the 2012 National Arts Marketing Project Conference, and we had a good time talking about audience development and arts shenanigans in general.  I recently came across her current blog post and thought it would be fantastic to cross post it here.  Are your artists involved in your audience development planning?  I agree – the should be.  Only disagreement is her “butts in seats” comment, as you know that drives me crazy.  If you have a comment, please feel free to share in the reply box below.  Enjoy!************************************************

Are artists involved in your audience development planning? They should be.

December 4, 2012 · by · Bookmark the permalink. ·

Having worked for several years in the Symphony world, I have experienced firsthand the ‘us vs. them’ mentality between artists and management. The Symphony world is well-known for its labor disputes, musician strikes, management lockouts and general distrust of each other. But I often find it odd that performers and management have such distaste for each other when we should all be working toward the same goal – keeping our arts organizations sustainable in our communities. Some of it may be attributed to the right-brained artist mentality not understanding the left-brained business mind and vice versa, but I think there’s a lot of commonality that artists and management share that is often overlooked.  While finances are certainly at the core of this, not to be ignored are the ideas needed to continue introducing new audiences to our art form. And this is where both artists and management need to work together. So let’s take contract negotiations and budgets out of the mix for a moment and just talk about idea creation.

While I would never expect the concertmaster to write the season’s marketing plan, just as I shouldn’t be expected to play first trumpet, the two sides can work together using our own expertise on finding ways to reach untapped audiences in new and exciting ways. In my years in symphony marketing (or any marketing, for that matter), I find that there is never a lack of new ideas. Someone at least once a week says to me, “You know what you oughta do…” Most times I listen, smile, and either file the idea away or dismiss it. But here’s where I really think both sides of the organization can work together and come up with some really fabulous ways to spread the joy of our artform. I have talked with musicians who’ve said that they don’t feel like anyone listens to their ideas. And I know many staff members who feel totally cut off from having access to the musicians, even in an informal manner. Bridging the two sides can help morale all around, as well as build the opportunity to work together towards a common cause.

As stated in an earlier post, new audiences are key to keeping the relevancy and vitality of classical music alive in the 21st century. Our marketing and development teams (another key relationship in any non-profit) are focused on identifying and cultivating these soon-to-be patrons and donors. What the management side can bring to the table is doing the research to find out who these new audiences are, how and where to market to them, and how to sell them a ticket. What musicians can do is tell their story. Make themselves available to the public. Be the face of the artform that we’re promoting.They are the ones to create the relationships that are KEY in this day and age of the arts. No one really cares what the Director of Marketing says. I have a small enough ego to know that what I say isn’t worth a hill of beans (is that still a phrase?). But when a musician makes a phone call, or appears in a video, or does a radio interview? That’s when ears perk up. That’s what makes a potential audience member interested in attending the Symphony. I can send postcards and record TV spots and place newspaper ads and I’ll get a few bites. Traditional media isn’t dead. But when the artist making the art becomes involved, and perhaps makes a personal invitation, I think we’ll see a much more significant response.

As we work on our new audience initiative, I plan to involve as many musicians as I can (and who are willing) in the planning and implementation process. It can be so much more effective if I ask the musicians up front, “Hey, what kind of program should we create to attract a younger audience?” than it will if I say, “You’re doing this service on this date and time and wear this.” Get them involved in the planning by serving on task forces. Ask them to invite their yoga class or book club or softball team to a concert. Invite them to participate in pre- or post-concert discussions with patrons. The participating musicians may feel a sense of ownership if they helped create something from the ground up instead of just showing up for a performance without having any idea on how the audience got there. I have found that if you just ask the artists for input, you’ll hear back, “How can we help?” We all want more butts in seats. Let’s work together on finding effective ways to do it. [:O)]

Samantha Teter is an arts marketing professional with over six years of experience as Director of Marketing in the Symphony field and four years of experience as Director of Marketing and Events in a performing arts venue. She holds a BA in Radio-TV Broadcasting and an MBA with a marketing emphasis. She is also an actor and singer and a patron of the performing arts.

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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

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

Leave a comment

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Random thoughts from fiscal cliffs and landfills to donation asks for arts audience development

What do fiscal cliffs and landfills have to do with audience development for the arts?  Quite a lot actually.  Allow me to explain.

The priorities in America and possibly the world are all mixed up these days.  When countries are being run by greed for power and money, what is really important in life is not being funded.  The arts, in my opinion, are important to our lives.  We would be living life in the dark without the arts.  There would be no color in our world, no design,creative sciences or inventiveness, no music, no plays, movies and television shows, no historical reference, no spark to our lives.  How am I certain that the arts are one of the vital ingredients for humanity?  Because of the Landfill Harmonic:

Landfill Harmonic film teaser from Landfill Harmonic on Vimeo.

A country that has no means, but has the human spirit to create is making instruments out of remnants from the landfill.  The arts are a basic need, a basic desire that has to be filled.  This video showcases that the arts are a priority in our lives.

If the arts were to be a part of the fall off due to the fiscal cliff, we would still find a way to create and perform.  However, think about what we could do if we finally got our priorities in life straight.  What would the world look like if the greed for power and money were gone?  There wouldn’t be a fiscal cliff and there probably would be the means for funding of the arts more fully.  We as a human race tend to take the arts for granted.  It’s only when the arts are gone from our lives that we find that we need to sift through the rubble, the garbage, to find a way to express ourselves again.

This taking the arts for granted can be flipped on its head too.  We as artists tend to take our audiences for granted.  I hope non-profits of all kinds will take a moment to ponder this point too.

We are taking our audiences for granted.  We assume that if we create, the audiences will be there.  You can call this the Field of Dreams Syndrome.  We take it for granted that the right people will show up and start to support us, and then we fall flat with doing the work to build the relationships to create the support that we need.

For example, I receive donation asks from a variety of organizations.  I might have given in the past, I might not have.  The organizations that are targeting me based on who I have given to in the past have not started a relationship with me.  They are asking without knowing who I really am as a person.  I rarely give to these random asks.  The ones I have given to the past are organizations that caught my attention through a variety of avenues, such as tabling at an outreach event.  I have at least spoken to a representative, gone to a show, or volunteered for their cause.  I gave to these organizations since a relation has been established.

I only choose to continue to give if the relationship continues.  Many organizations at this point will take me for granted and continue to ask without any personal contact with me.  The only organizations I continue to give to at this point are the ones that treat me like an individual person and not just a number on their mailing list.  They make sure to thank me and contact me to keep me in the loop before asking for another donation.  They send me updates on how my money is being used.  They may call me to thank me personally.  I did receive a call from a board member on one of these organizations.  I only gave $25 that year too. Wow!

To tie this random post up into a nice gift with a big red bow for the holidays, you can trace back to the initial thought.  We have our priorities mixed up.  Instead of taking the road of hard work and thoughtfulness for others, we are taking the path of laziness and greed for money and power.  People will not see the value of our art and organizations until we start valuing people as individuals.  The world will not see the arts as a priority until they see the arts become more a part of the world in ways that are helpful and supportive to their communities.  Perhaps if we started acting as individuals and support the people in our lives through solid two-way relationships, we can start adding a positive voice to the collective for a better, common sensed, prioritized world.

If you ever wondered why getting the arts funded has been so darn challenging, now you know.

PS  These thoughts are my own humble opinion.  Feel free to challenge, add, and consider your own thoughts and post as a reply!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

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

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

My eBook

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Filed under Arts, arts advocacy, arts management, Audience Development, fund raising, Fundraising