As we at the day job proceed with the marketing of our next production, I must admit that I am pretty excited.
I'm excited not just about the show but because of the new marketing tactics we plan on executing. A bit more online advertising, using street team marketing and a few other things designed to move this 50+ year old institution forward.
I was sharing my excitement with a colleague. She mentioned that she would love to try a few of the things we are doing at her place, but instead her leaders seem stuck in the old school mentality that the only way to see art is by buying mass medium ads (i.e. newspaper ads, radio)
"This sucks" she told me "Why do the artists get to have all the fun?"
One of the sad side effects of the seperation of "art" and "business" is that it creates the impression that only artistic people are supposed to be creative.
The truth is that fundraising, marketing, administration, et. al are fields that require a high degree of creativity and innovation if they are going to be done well.
So when administrators are stopped from trying new ideas, it has the same impact as when an artist's creative freedom is limited . . . it holds the entire organization back.
1. Subscribe to "You Cott Mail". Thomas Cott, the marketing director of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company has a profoundly useful service where we emails you the day's top arts related stories. It's a great way to stay informed. Click here to go his site and look for the link on the left side of the page.
2. Take thirty minute out your weekend to watch this fantastic videoof Benjamin Zander, head of the Boston Philharmonic. He's a fantastic presenter and as the video shows, a dynamic teacher.
If you are in the process of sending out year end appeals for people to donate please remember the following:
1. You're not the only one doing so, expect that your target audience has received at least 5 other appeals from different groups.
2. People know the economy sucks, but that isn't a reason to give to you.
3. That fact you may have to close your doors, or not do your next scheduled event, isn't a reason to give to you.
4. Actually, I would avoid saying point 3 entirely, even if it was true, people don't like desperate appeals.
5. What is a reason to give is the impact your art is having on the community you serve. Any impact you can actually measure is best, but even if you can't . . . that impact is what your year end fundraising appeal should cover.
6. If you haven't done of these yet, it isn't too late. A lot of people decide to give the last week of the year, so you still have an opportunity to at least make a request via email.
What I found interesting was that the two shows were Caroline, or Change and Titus.
On a purely financially perspective there is no comparison between the two. Caroline generated seven times as much single ticket revenue revenue as Titus.
From an artistic perspective, however, I could make a case that the big, messy, deeply interesting, Titus did as much to advance the reputation of the theatre as the grand ol' musical Caroline did.
I talk a lot about money on this blog and I don't want to minimize the importance of using marketing to draw resources (financial and otherwise) to your work.
But this is still the art business we are in and it was nice to see a show that was really good but didn't make the cash register hum get the praise it deserved.
I also think having those two shows as a contrast makes a tiny bit of the case why artists should have some sort of infrastructure (i.e. a well built nonprofit org, a smart and fast for-profit) to work within.
Having a strong infrastructure allows you to do the edgy work and manage the consequences of that. It also allows you to build a bit of a legacy, so that your work as an artist can be considered over time versus just being judged one piece of art at a time.