Tag Archives: orchestra

#Auddev chat, June 28, 2013 at Noon ET – Twtr Symphony

#Auddev chat, June 28, 2013 at Noon ET – Twtr Symphony

A chat with Chip Michael, Artistic Director of the Twtr Symphony – an online symphony comprised of musicians from all over the world that connected on Twitter. This is one good example of how you can use social media to create for and with your audiences!

  1. Hello and welcome to #auddev chat. I’m your host, Shoshana from Audience Development Specialists.
  2. We will be chatting with @chipmichael the Artistic Director of the Twtr Symphony. Please use the hashtag #auddev to join the conversation!
  3. @chipmichael Good day to you, and thank you for chatting with us. Please do introduce yourself. #auddev
  4. I am a composer and Music Director for TwtrSymphony – an international orchestra made of people who’ve connected via twitter #auddev
  5. The concept of @TwtrSymphony started when a few of my twitter friends suggested I start an orchestra to help get my music performed #auddev
  6. @chipmichael Can you give us a basic history of the Twtr Symphony? How did you get the idea? How many musicians? Etc? #auddev
  7. However, the idea has grown to be much more than a vanity project for my music. We have over 100 musicians participating world wide #auddev
  8. The music has been listened to online thousands of times via our website twtrsymphony.instantencore.com or on Youtube #auddev
  9. Follow hashtag #auddev for a conversation about the Twtr Symphony. Using social media to create!
  10. We started @TwtrSymphony in March 2012 based a lark. I wanted a new composition performed but didn’t have an orchestra #auddev
  11. Can you fill us in on the process of building your Twitter Symphony? Twtr Symphony. #auddev
  12. By the end of March 2012 @TwtrSymphony had over 300 musicians wanting to audition. It was crazy (and exciting) #auddev
  13. @chipmichael So a group of twitter friends saying “let’s build a symphony!” #auddev
  14. The process of building the symphony was all about getting the word out on Twitter and inviting musicians to audition #auddev
  15. We are @twtrSymphony is a orchestra of musicians from around the world that play music together remotely #auddev @lynnekingsley
  16. Each musician gets their part and a click track, they record it, we put all the parts together 4 the final recording #auddev @lynnekingsley
  17. @chipmichael So there is no location where you all get together. You are putting together the piece with remote performances? #auddev
  18. If you’d like to hear some of our music (and see some of the musicians playing) 1st ‘symphony’ is here youtube.com/playlist?list=… #auddev
  19. Just clarifying for those people unfamiliar with this type of recording method. #auddev
  20. I’m curious, did you know these people before Twitter? #auddev
  21. That’s correct #auddev unlike most other orchestras, the musicians don’t physically meet. I’ve only met 3 of them in person.
  22. yet now, I consider many of them very good friends #auddev
  23. @chipmichael So you have built relationships with all of these people via Twitter and formed a symphony. Brilliant! #auddev
  24. I knew some of the musicians before we starterd, but the power of social media took it way beyond my ‘friend’ list #auddev
  25. @chipmichael Why did you decide to use Twitter versus any other method out there. #auddev
  26. Another aspect of TwtrSymphony is building these relationships and promoting what these musicians are doing outside TwtrSymphony #auddev
  27. @chipmichael Yes, it looks like a very supportive network for you and the musicians. #auddev
  28. One musician plays with @DetroitSymphony so we promote their dso.com/dsolive performances that include @garrettMcQueen #auddev
  29. Just a note to the normal symphony format – creating a supportive network for your musicians would be a great #auddev addition!
  30. We try to be supportive of music in general too, with a focus on what our musicians are doing #auddev
  31. I so agree! #auddev Other orchestras would find if they would promote their musicians, their musicians would reciprocate.
  32. @chipmichael So not only are you promoting the musicians, but also their regular gigs, which includes other symphonies. #auddev
  33. @chipmichael Have any orchestras approached you to collaborate directly? Do they know what you are doing to help them? #auddev
  34. Of course #auddev Music is not Me! Me! Me! – music is a shared experience. It needs musicians, but it needs an audience. They go handNHand
  35. By supporting our musicians (and other orchestras) we help promote music #auddev the more popular classical music is, the better for us too!
  36. Wondering if any musicians from @twtrsymphony are on Twitter right now to chat about what is like for them. #auddev
  37. We are ‘friends’ with numerous orchestras, and are supported (via tweets and promotion) by many, but no collaborations yet #auddev
  38. We are an orchestra of musicians spreading our music 140 secs at a time #auddev
  39. Twitter was the medium for @TwtrSymphony because of the ‘conversational’ nature of it #auddev
  40. @chipmichael Do you use other social media formats as well? Which ones? #auddev
  41. We wanted an orchestra connected like Twitter connects people – engaging around the world – interacting #auddev
  42. I agree how powerful Twitter can be if used in the social manner it was meant for. ;O) #auddev
  43. Yes – we are on Facebook, YouTube and Tumblr #auddev We have a website and eventually be on LinkedIn, Google … but managing an orchestra
  44. … takes time and energy as does each of these social media platforms and I only have so many hours in a day #auddev
  45. @chipmichael Very true. It does take time. Focusing on the format that works best for you is a good point. #auddev
  46. I really wish other orchestras understood the power of twitter. Some use it well, but most just hawk their performances. #auddev
  47. @chipmichael LOL at “hawk.” Speaking of interaction, what types of interaction do you have with your audiences? #auddev
  48. Exactly – to make social media work, you have to understand how it works and why it works to be effective. #auddev
  49. I’m also curious about who your audiences are and how you engage with them. #auddev
  50. Interaction with our audiences comes in tweets, comments and suggestions #auddev We try and respond to all comments personally…
  51. Our audience is the world on the web so engaging means getting them to be aware of us and sharing what we’ve done with their friends #auddev
  52. But it also means listening to what they’re saying, answering their suggestions for new ideas #auddev We don’t take them all; we do respond
  53. Our videos are a good example of spreading the word. Our symphony has been watched 4k times #auddev & still popular on several channels
  54. @chipmichael With this new format, are you seeing people that are new to classical music become your audience members? #auddev
  55. If you’re listening to what your audience is saying (or not saying) #auddev UR able to glean what direction you need to take.
  56. If anyone else has questions, please tweet and use the #auddev hashtag.
  57. I don’t to suggest @twtrSymphony succeeds all the time. We don’t – but we’re always trying, looking at ways to innovate, grow #auddev
  58. We did a piece last Dec “Raise Your Voice” for the people of #Newtown in response to the shooting #auddev
  59. Being playing with MediaLabs @screensinthewild if you @broadwaycinema give it a glance. #auddev bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/graduate/scree…
  60. “Raise Your Voice” wasn’t an anti-gun piece, but rather a ‘power of music to heal’ piece #auddev It STILL hasn’t released…
  61. No, it is going to be released free to download with the score available for performances. The point was to show community spirit #auddev
  62. @chipmichael Which is a great point. We can use the arts to participate in and show support for our communities. #auddev
  63. The problem in getting the music out is partly due to our process and we’re working on fixing that. #auddev
  64. @chipmichael Have you ever done a “live concert” format for a live audience? #auddev
  65. Yes – Artists need to show their passion for music, but also for the communities they live in. #auddev
  66. By the very nature of @TwtrSymphony a ‘live concert” isn’t possible. Trying 2get 6 musicians streaming over the internet live is…#auddev
  67. … technically impossible right now. We have some companies working on options, but the lag time from the connections prevents it. #auddev
  68. @chipmichael I was thinking more along the lines of creating YouTubes that people could watch together live & chat in live time. #auddev
  69. @chipmichael I understand lag times. Technology has not caught up yet. #auddev
  70. We are working on doing more interactive ‘live’ communication between groups of musicians, but that still won’t be live perfromances #auddev
  71. Hmmmm a concept we hadn’t talked about yet – maybe we should chat more about this later 😀 #auddev
  72. @chipmichael Yes, challenging for an actual live concert so I used air quotes. LOL! #auddev
  73. @chipmichael So what’s in store for future projects? Do you have any upcoming ones to share with us? #auddev
  74. We did get approached by an orchestra about developing a multi-orchestra piece with three live feeds – but again technology hindered #auddev
  75. We did a Kickstarter last Jan-Feb but it didn’t get funded. We have 20 scores of other composers we’d like to record. That’s NEXT #auddev
  76. @chipmichael I can’t wait for the tech to catch up. I have seen live with a recording of the other artist, but not both live. #auddev
  77. Unfortunately, no one at TwtrSymphony is paid (anything) so we have to work around day jobs – and recently mine has been HECTIC #auddev
  78. Wow, 20 scores. This is a great use for the @twtrsymphony. Helping other composers get out there! #auddev
  79. Multiple live performances is definitely where the tech is headed – but not there yet #auddev
  80. That’s right, using @TwtrSymphony to help other composers get exposure – again, we’re about sharing music, promoting music #auddev
  81. We believe in the power of music to change lives. It certainly has for us! #auddev@twtrsymphony
  82. @chipmichael Hmmm…that is along the lines that artists will create without being paid, topic came up again at latest conference. #auddev
  83. @chipmichael Were there any other projects that inspired you to create Twtr Symphony? #auddev
  84. In TedTalk @AmandaPalmer said it right: don’t ask the audience to pay for music, let them. If we do this right, the money will come #auddev
  85. I have to say that I’m very impressed with the networking, sharing, and promoting aspects of @twtrsymphony #auddev
  86. .@TwtrSymphony still has a long ways to go but the dedication of the musicians makes it worth the effort on my part #auddev
  87. I am seeing more artists/orgs attempting to use social media to create for and with their audiences. A trend that will expand! #auddev
  88. Are there any questions for Chip before going to last thoughts? #auddev #askaway
  89. I hope so #auddev @AudienceDevSpec Art needs to engage and social media is a great way to do it!
  90. Please don’t be shy and ask, especially if you are thinking of starting a project of this nature. #auddev
  91. We have 4 min. left. Do you @chipmichael have any last thoughts to share? #auddev
  92. For people who consider starting any project, don’t be daunted by the size, or disappointed by failures. Every project has hiccups #auddev
  93. The ones that succeed work through the hiccups and keep trying. Commit to the long haul. #auddev If U don’t try, you automatically #fail
  94. @chipmichael Experiment and share! There are so many great ideas floating around that are not attempted due to fear of failure. #auddev
  95. I want to take this moment to thank @chipmichael for chatting with us about @twtrsymphony. Can you share your links again? #auddev
  96. Our next #auddev chat will be in July, but might need to be rescheduled. Stay tuned! #auddev
  97. If you’d like to hear some of what we’ve done, the videos of our debut symphony are here: youtube.com/playlist?list=… #Auddev
  98. A transcript of this chat will be provided within a week. #auddev
  99. You can read more about @twtrSymphony here: twtrsymphony.instantencore.com/web/home.aspx #auddev
  100. Of course, we’re always open to chatting on twitter @TwtrSymphony or on Facebook facebook.com/TwtrSymphony #auddev let us know what U think.
  101. Thanks again to @chipmichael and thank you to everyone who was watching today. I now return the hashtag #auddev to its regular schedule!
  102. @Chipmichael I really enjoyed the conversation about @twittersymphony thanks for sharing that with us. Keep bringing us music! #Auddev

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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

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

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

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

My eBook

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Becoming aware: arts management, classical music, and arts audience development

Oh dear!  The headlines today were not very encouraging.  More orchestras are locked out, one opera company has to shut down until their bills are paid, and the woe is classical music stories keep popping up too.  Yes, we are in the midst of dealing with changes that have already happened, and the classical music world in general is scrambling to get back on track.

In my area, there have been cuts too.  Many of the organizations have downsized their concert schedules to deal with their funding cuts.  I know musicians across the country are not happy with all that is happening.  The musicians blame the management.  The management blames the musicians for not understanding.  It’s a vicious cycle of finger pointing.

I myself am wracking my brain to figure out how orchestras and classical music can start thriving again.  I have already chimed in with my suggested action points.

In the article about the Minnesota Orchestra, the management wants to cut musician salaries and at the same time they are raising money and spending money on a $52 million renovation.  The management views this as accessing support from big donors.  Wouldn’t the big donors rather donate to secure the best musicians for their orchestra instead?  I can see why the musicians are protesting this factor.  Unless the hall was in such a severe state that renovation was imperative, perhaps money that pays the musicians that create the “product” for the organization would have been better raised and spent.

I have been on both sides of this fence.  I have been a musician grumbling that I haven’t been paid enough, and I have been on the management team attempting to secure funding to keep the organization functioning.  An orchestra or opera is an expensive endeavor.  The economy and lowered demand due to the change in times are a downfall to these organizations, but these challenges can only account for part of the deficiency.

If it were up to me, I’d blame everyone!  Not that I want to blame anyone.  The real problem here, as I mentioned before, is the lack of team mentality and lack of functioning as a real nonprofit business.  In times of trouble, all line items need to be evaluated.  All salaries including the management, all fundraising, all audience development, outreach and marketing efforts, have to be looked at with honest eyes.  Priorities for the business need to be established.  For example, the $52 million dollars that was raised for renovations,  I do not see this as a bigger priority than making sure the musicians are paid fairly.  It’s a similar mentality that our country is going through. Our veteran soldiers are not being provided for fully after their duties have ended.  The musicians and soldiers are doing the work.  Are we taking care of them or are our priorities out of balance?  Are we are raising and spending money on the wrong types of initiatives?

I have witnessed some classical music organizations that have decided that one of the top priorities be keeping their musicians happy.  Without the musicians, they reason, there would be no music.  These organizations are still doing well.  The audience wants happy musicians.  Happy musicians provide the concert experience they desire and pay for.  Happy musicians perform better too.  The audience knows this.

I plea for organizations to start surveying their audiences if they don’t believe me.  I once structured a question on my survey to ask, “If you were king of the orchestra, what changes in management would you make?”  We had several come back commenting on how they would like the musicians to be paid fairly.   The audience knew what is going on as much as the supposed behind the scenes management.  In our world of further transparency, paying for $52 million worth of renovations is not going to delight your audiences as much as having top quality musicians to perform the music they love.

I will say this though, coming from the side of management, I feel the musicians now have to be part of the team for reaching new audiences.  Everyone needs to be a part of this initiative. We now need some support for outreach efforts, word of mouth marketing, and other audience development programs to increase audience and demand.  The management is not able to perform these outreach concerts for the musicians.  A management team can only spread the word so far.  It now requires more and more circles of people to spread the word.  The musicians need to step up too, and even volunteer in troubled times, to make the music for awareness of the music to happen.

It needs to be a team effort, all hands on deck, if you want to become a healthy nonprofit arts organization.

So, evaluation of budgets, prioritizing line items, and becoming a team to bring awareness to and further your mission is what it is going to take to be healthy again.  Good old fashioned hard work by everyone!  I hope more arts organizations become aware.

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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Good team arts management and audience development can turn it around

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, who can fix these messes?  Everyone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

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

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

My eBook

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

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Audience development for orchestras…younger audiences

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Random thoughts on current events: audience development for the arts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

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

My eBook

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

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Bigger arts organizations and audience development

I have seen two more news stories about symphony orchestras going bankrupt.  What in the world is happening?  We could say this is a case of audiences no longer relating to these bigger organizations and how they function and present their art.  Times are changing and the ways that audiences want to participate and become more a part of the arts could be a big piece of the puzzle.  I do not feel it is due to humans no longer relating to the art itself, which has been proven is not the case.

In my humble opinion, it is the fact that these bigger organizations are functioning using old school management and marketing, and they have yet to switch to a new audience development mentality.  I see that some of these organizations have 10-20 people on their marketing staff and on their development staff.  It is not the case that they do not have the capacity or people power.  I have seen organizations with less than 6 people on their staff use audience development effectively.  I believe the problem lies with the fact they refuse to shift and change with the times.

The other piece of this puzzle is the hush-hush nature of how these organizations are being run.  They refuse to be transparent, and when they are in the beginnings of needing help, they do not allow their audiences to be a part of the solution.  Instead they continue to hide behind the mask of “everything is fine” and continue to clunk along using the same old methods that they have been operating with for decades.

When it comes down to the wire, the last leg moments of functioning, this is when these organizations divulge the information that they are in serious trouble.  The media is more than happy to show how dire the situation is for these organizations, and there is hardly a positive leg to stand upon.  I admire the late turn-around spirit that some of these organizations are attempting to promote, but in many cases, it might be a little too late to get these massive ships to turn-around.  The iceberg was spotted long ago, but now they do not have enough time, and the impact sinks these organizations like the Titanic.

The good news is that like a phoenix, new organizations rise from the ashes, and hopefully with this renewal will come a new mentality, an audience development mentality of working with your audiences to build better arts organization.

We no longer can ignore our audiences or give them what we think they want.  They want to be included, and they want us to be more responsible and accountable when they do give us their support.  They provide us our livelihoods.  We owe them the best in return.  There should be no more excuses.  If you are a bigger organization, you have the capacity.  It is time to shift your presumptuous operations mentality to a mentality that builds relationships and partnerships with your audiences.  Please do so as soon as possible so you will not become another Titanic in the sea of dead arts organizations.

PS  This is a generalization.  There are bigger organizations that are doing well and have changed with the times.  They serve as wonderful examples for all of us.

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 management, arts marketing, Audience Development