Getting your Priorities Straight
Every new season at a performing arts organization is like a road trip to a new destination. We’re experienced enough after taking these trips for years to know how to prepare and what to pack. But since the trip changes every year, there are still plenty of adventures (and challenges) to be had.
The Room Where It Happens
The individuals who are in the room when decisions are made can make all the difference to the following weeks and months of labor to build brand, engage the community, and develop future audiences. Here are a few helpful hints for you to make the case why marketing should be “in the room” to influence positive outcomes.
The More Arts Marketing Changes, The More it Stays the Same
While the arts marketing landscape changes, and the methods are changing with them, some things will stay the same. This week, read tips, thought-provoking questions, and “lessons learned” from a broad range of professionals in our arts marketing blog salon.
The Power of Storytelling for Women Leaders
Every woman has a story, and the world needs to see and hear your story and your perspective as a woman leader—and, more critically, as a woman of color. Storytelling is rooted in our cultures and has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to not only share with the world who you are, but open people’s minds in a way that simply telling a set of regurgitated data or facts cannot. Over the past few weeks we have seen the power of storytelling play out in one of the largest stages for women that we have ever seen. The Kavanagh hearing allowed each party to tell their story in a historical setting like no other, but the stories that captured our attention, the stories that had the most impact, the ones that moved and changed people’s hearts and minds in that hearing, across the country and perhaps the world, were told in an elevator.
Equipping Artists to be Community Leaders
I joined our new staff member in a meeting last week with a prospective grant applicant. We were discussing his interest and desire to get a new keyboard for his work as a musician. This young man humbly presented himself as he shared his professional and educational background that more than qualified him to apply for the developing artist grant we administer. Our new staff member did an excellent job reviewing the grant guidelines and preparing him for the process, but as the meeting was wrapping up, I saw that something was still missing.
“May I share an observation with you before you go?” I asked. “Sure,” the artist quietly replied.
It’s Time for the Arts to Rally Around Standardized Outcomes
Like many social areas, the arts have struggled to reach consensus on impact measurement metrics. Certainly, considerable progress has been made in terms of measuring economic impact as a result of the arts, led by Americans for the Arts and its Arts and Economic Prosperity series of research reports. But, as Business Contributions to the Arts: 2018 Edition reiterates, most companies are not measuring a standard set of social outcomes when it comes to the arts—and that could be holding the sector back. Our data also show that corporate funding for the arts is in a strong position. That means that now is the time to take on the challenge of being more rigorous in the measurement of arts programs to help ensure sustained contributions over the long term. Companies would benefit from stepping up to the plate.
What is our impact?
Impact. That is what every arts educator hopes for when they greet a new crop of students. To impact their lives through the art form they love. Whether a student develops an appreciation and love for the arts, decides to pursue it as a career, or just discovers something within themselves they may not have known without experiencing the arts, it all comes down to impact. A few weeks ago, we had an opportunity to see this impact on a national level as people all over the world told their stories during National Arts in Education Week. The #BecauseOfArtsEd hashtag gave us a chance to reflect on our story and how it was shaped by the arts. Like many of you, I was excited to post stories about the educators we work with and add to the tapestry of stories across the country. The response to our educators was overwhelming.
Arts & Business Partnerships Continue to Strengthen Both Sectors, Research Finds
Last week, we celebrated arts and business partnerships at our annual BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts gala. We heard inspiring stories about why businesses value the arts. BCA Leadership Award winner Chandrika Tandon shared how her passion for music provided passion and engagement at her job. Fifth Third Bank spoke about how the arts helped them heal and respond after a mass shooting at their headquarters. Phillips66 shared how the arts create a strong company culture. These stories align with the data from the just released Business Contributions to the Arts survey, which found, among other positive results, that business support for the arts is on the rise.
My healing process occurred alongside my career in the arts—first as a student and volunteer; then as an artist and a teaching artist; and now as an arts administrator and leader. The transformation happened over the past 25 years. While the trauma is no longer debilitating, it is never forgotten. And, while the arts didn’t heal the trauma alone, theater was instrumental in helping me build the language and my own awareness of the trauma, and in seeking additional outside assistance. It is impossible for me to separate these narratives. I fervently believe that at its core, our work in the cultural sector is to build a more inclusive, empathetic, and humane society. As leaders we must recognize that many of the people we interact with on a daily basis have experienced some sort of trauma, bias, or oppression based on gender, sexual orientation, or race. It is not that hard to accomplish—just use the tools acquired through the arts themselves.
Introducing the Arts + Social Impact Explorer
To improve the perceived public value of the arts, we must connect into the places where people find value. To get members of our community to stand up and say, “We want more,” we have to tell them why “more” matters. If we’re trying to create advocates for arts and culture among the members of communities, we need to increase the occasions where thinking about the arts makes sense. Because the truth is, the arts make more things possible, from better education to greater health outcomes to a more civically-engaged citizenry—it’s just that people don’t always see the connection to the arts when change happens. Knowing people prioritize core issue areas like education, job security, housing, public safety, and health and wellness, how do we show the important ways the arts intersect with their day-to-day lives? At Americans for the Arts, our answer is the Arts + Social Impact Explorer.
The Art of Gifting: Celebrating our culture with Shop Local Artists Week
In cities and towns around the United States, people frequently are encouraged to “Shop Local” to support the many businesses that are such a critical part of their communities’ identities, with much of that focus targeted in November during “Small Business Week.” As of 2017 in Louisiana, the rally for support has been extended to the first full week of December, which is now an annual, statewide celebration known as Shop Local Artists Week (SLAW). We have a responsibility to ensure that our creative culture can continue to grow and flourish—especially since our state is among the most celebrated cultural destinations in the world. So another key focus is the development of partnerships between businesses and artists. Merchants throughout the parish are encouraged to consider adopting one or more local artists or authors during Shop Local Artists Week, and to consider hosting cultural events featuring those artists, including meet and greets, book signings and musical performances.