To have a successful career in the arts you have to understand risk aversion.
Here's the best definition of risk aversion I have ever heard, it is particular to the performing arts:
Most people, when given the option to attend a performing arts event, are more scared that the performance is going to be disappointing then they are excited that the performance is going to be good.
When we approach the public with our work, they immediately ask themselves "is this worth my time and money?"
And the default answer to that question is "no" until we prove otherwise.
That means the burden of proof is on us.
Many of us don't understand this.
We think that simply coming out and declaring ourselves as artists automatically implies some sort of worth.
We think that if we just tell people what we are doing and when we are doing it that we have met our burden of proof.
But that isn't enough.
It isn't nearly enough.
This is the thing we have to remember:
We are in the trust business.
Not the theatre business.
Not the museum business.
The trust business.
When you are dealing with a risk averse public the only way to get them to do a risky thing is by earning their trust.
How do you earn their trust?
By building a relationship with them.
My observation is that most of us in the arts are very good at putting up programming, but we aren't good at building relationships.
We aren't transparent enough about our process or our motives. We struggle to get outside of ourselves and see the world from the perspective of those we would like to sit in our seats or stroll our galleries.
We continually talk to ourselves, about ourselves and then wonder why the other 95% of the world looks upon us with casual disinterest.
But this isn't about us.
Maybe, back when there wasn't 1,000 entertainment options, it could be about us.
But the world has shifted.
Now a huge part of our job is building relationship. Talking to people, sharing ourselves with people.
Getting people to take the risk.