Blog Posts for Salon Oct 10

Thank you to the many people who have been blog contributors to, and readers of ArtsBlog over the years. ArtsBlog has long been a space where we uplifted stories from the field that demonstrated how the arts strengthen our communities socially, educationally, and economically; where trends and issues and controversies were called out; and advocacy tools were provided to help you make the case for more arts funding and favorable arts policies.

As part of Americans for the Arts’ recent Strategic Realignment Process, we were asked to evaluate our storytelling communications platforms and evolve the way we share content. As a result, we launched the Designing Our Destiny portal to explore new ways of telling stories and sharing information, one that is consistent with our longtime practice of, “No numbers without a story, and no stories without a number.”

As we put our energy into developing this platform and reevaluate our communications strategies, we have put ArtsBlog on hold. That is, you can read past blog posts, but we are not posting new ones. You can look to the Designing Our Destiny portal and our news items feed on the Americans for the Arts website for stories you would have seen in ArtsBlog in the past.

ArtsBlog will remain online through this year as we determine the best way to archive this valuable resource and the knowledge you’ve shared here.

As ever, we are grateful for your participation in ArtsBlog and thank you for your work in advancing the arts. It is important, and you are important for doing it.

What's Your Motivation?

Posted by Mr. David M. Dombrosky, Oct 05, 2010 3 comments

David Dombrosky

In a world where we are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages every day, our society has grown hyper-aware (and hyper-wary) of advertising in all its mutated forms – from magazine ads to product placement in television shows, from celebrities dropping brand names during interviews to Facebook pages used solely to increase ticket sales.  When it comes to using social media, motivation is a key factor in forecasting whether an organization’s efforts will succeed or fail. 

With motivation, I’m talking about the “why” not the “what.”  Often we confuse the question “why are you using social media” with “what do you hope to achieve with social media.”  Our answers tend to revolve around increases in attendance, ticket sales, registrations, donations, etc.  Many of us mistakenly perceive our desired outcomes as the reasons motivating our social media participation.

I say “mistakenly,” but for some people there is no motivation for using social media beyond increasing the bottom line.  Now, I know it is counterintuitive for me to proclaim this in an arts marketing blog salon, but here goes.  Social media sites are not marketing tools, they are engagement tools.  (Wait!  Don’t call me a heretic yet.)  When social media sites are used with a motivation for engagement rather than self-promotion, they often lead to those desired marketing outcomes of increased sales and brand awareness.

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Constantly Increasing the Sum of Our Arts

Posted by Mr. Clayton W. Lord, Oct 07, 2010 0 comments

Recently, I did a big set of interviews for a series of articles that I was writing for Theatre Bay Area magazine on the intersection of mission, community and art.  In the course of these interviews, I often asked questions about the demographics of the particular theatre companies I was speaking to, and in most cases they didn’t have a clear idea of anything more than the most basic stats in terms of butts in seats, percent of house full etc.  What surprised me here is that this wasn’t just with the small companies, which here in the Bay Area make up about 75% of the 300-400 company members we have at any given time.  This was with big companies, very big companies, the biggest companies.  When I asked, the answer that came back was, “well, we use the Big List for those numbers.”

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A Picture IS 1,000 Words: Design Matters

Posted by K.E. Semmel, Oct 12, 2010 0 comments

Kyle Semmel

Ben Burdick’s take on design in arts organizations is apt. As someone who has worked in marketing at such an organization—and as someone who, somewhat grudgingly, has also done some (rather embarrassing) design work out of necessity—I couldn’t agree more. I can’t improve on his suggested steps, especially the part about getting beyond emotional responses, but I can write about just how vital strong design is for an arts organization (or come to think, any organization).

Objectives are important, and good design is essential to fulfilling them. Whether you want it to or not, your graphic design is part of your message. Every time you put marketing materials out into the world, you reflect on who your organization is and what it does. A well thought out design—one that speaks to what you do—becomes the shorthand for how people remember you.

I write the above paragraph while thinking specifically about our own case. Last year we were lucky enough to be selected for a special branding initiative with the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington, one of DC’s pre-eminent arts organizations, in its Business Volunteers for the Arts program. That program helps smaller organizations like ours reach objectives in areas like financial planning, marketing, and strategic planning, among others, by connecting them with professional volunteers.

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Questions of Musical Engagement

Posted by Susannah Greenwood, Oct 05, 2010 2 comments has a somewhat unique charge in their local community that involves two very distinct groups of folks; Arts Organizations and Audiences. Collaboration and technology are key parts of our mission and we’re always looking for ways to creatively bring artists together with other artists as well as lead audiences to artists/arts organizations. We are constantly asking ourselves “Is there any group or groups of artists that we aren’t reaching?”

Susannah Greenwood

Due to their large numbers, the short “shelf-life” of a gig (as opposed to say a four week run for a theatre) and the one-man-show-type setup of their marketing efforts, local independent musicians are where we saw a consistent gap in our communication and representation.  So, then we asked “what would a musician want that they don’t already have, that could help them to market themselves appropriately within this community?” The answer came back as… another question, “what if we had a vehicle for listening to mp3’s from local bands and linked that “player” directly to the existing events calendar? What if I could listen to a bunch of bands and when I heard one I liked, I could see who it was and search immediately when they were playing? And what if it was free to post the songs and free to listen to them? How awesome would that be? (We ask a lot of questions over here.)

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DIGITAL EXTRAS #2: Arts Organizations Need to Shift & Reset

Posted by Brian Reich, Oct 06, 2010 1 comment

Brian Reich

Information moves faster. People are more closely connected. The expectations we all have for what we want to see and hear have changed. The kinds of relationships and the levels of support we want from organizations have been redefined. Our connection to the issues and events that define our world has been transformed.

The ubiquity of technology and the reach of the Internet make it possible to spread a message farther and have it be embraced by more people than ever before. The rise of social platforms leaves no doubt that we are one global, interconnected community and capable of taking action on issues we passionately share. The available tools make it possible for everyone to have a platform from which to speak, and anyone to spark a bottom-up, grassroots-fueled revolution that has power no individual or entity could generate. However, the tools alone will not ensure that an arts organization, or any organization, is successful in communicating with, and engaging, audiences.

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What should we adopt? How can we adapt?

Posted by , Oct 12, 2010 0 comments

Amelia Northrup

Reading over the blog entries this week, particularly David Dombrosky's entry on the rise of the citizen critic and Ron Evans' post on online reviews, I was reminded of an experience I had a few years ago when our local paper cut its classical music and dance critic.  I had a meeting with many of the marketing directors in the city, who were understandably upset about the firing and convinced that their success was inextricably linked with newspaper coverage.

Many of these people had been in marketing for 30 years. When they first started out in the business, the primary marketing channels were TV, radio, and newspaper (and maybe billboard, telemarketing, or fax.) When a new medium was introduced, it might take a while to master, but that was fine.  The learning curve was viewed as an investment because you knew that medium would still be around in five years.

Compare that to now.  We have new, “must-have” technology platforms coming out nearly every 6 months to a year.  Today, we are being pushed toward mobile apps for phones and iPads, geolocation social media like Foursquare, and more.  We are not sure if these technologies will still be popular in three months, let alone five yea

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